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Wilson gets 600th coaching win as Leafs top Sharks

by John Kreiser
Ron Wilson became the newest member of the 600-win club in the same building where he won a lot of the first 599.

Carl Gunnarsson scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 on Tuesday night, making Wilson only the seventh coach to reach 600 victories -- 206 of which came in his five-plus seasons behind the Sharks' bench. The last 82 have come with the Leafs. GM Brian Burke, who hired Wilson after the Sharks fired him in May 2008, shook hands with him in the hallway on the way to the locker room.

It was Wilson's first win in bis old home with his new team, which has now won four in a row.

"It's pretty special," he said. "Only six other guys have done it. You don't see it very often.
The best thing is that we managed to find a way to do it here.

Wilson is 10 wins ahead of Jacques Lemaire and 20 behind sixth-place Bryan Murray, now the general manager of the Ottawa Senators.

Clarke MacArthur scored twice and Phil Kessel once as the Leafs got all of their goals in the third period to overcome a 1-0 deficit after 40 minutes and win for the second time in as many nights.

Patrick Marleau had both goals for the Sharks, who pelted rookie goaltender James Reimer with 40  shots but lost their fifth in a row. The win was the Leafs' fifth in a row on the road, their longest winning streak away from Toronto in nearly three years.

"Tonight we took advantage of a team that's squeezing their sticks right now," Wilson said. "We got great goaltending from Reimer -- he was unbelievable when we needed him -- great penalty-killing and timely goals.

Marleau drove a shot from the slot through Reimer's pads at 10:12 of the first period to open the scoring, but Reimer kept the Leafs in the game by stopping all 21 shots he faced in the second period, helping the Leafs kill off all four San Jose power plays.

Kessel tied it 3:27 into the third period when he took a pass from Tyler Bozak, swung wide around goalie Antti Niemi and buried a 10-footer. MacArthur put Toronto ahead at 7:30 with a backhander from the slot that beat Niemi.

Marleau batted in his own rebound at 8:35 to get the Sharks even, but Gunnarsson's tip of Dion Phaneuf's shot beat Niemi at 10:10 to put the Leafs ahead.

"I saw it the whole way," Gunnarson said. "I just put my stick out there. I got lucky and got a piece of it."

Niemi kept the Sharks close by stopping Kessel on a breakaway, but MacArthur blocked a shot and broke in alone before hitting the empty net with 39 seconds remaining, triggering a celebration on the Leafs' bench.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan was in anything but a celebratory mood.

"We've been whining about our offense lately," he said. "But tonight it was our defense commitment that let us down."

The win lifted the Leafs into 12th place in the East with 41 points -- though they're still 11 out of the last playoff berth even with their recent hot streak, and Wilson said making up that kind of ground won't be easy.

"We've got to win two out of three the rest of the way just to get close," Wilson said.

Flyers 5, Sabres 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Danny Briere says being left off the All-Star roster wasn't the motivating factor in his big night against his former team.

Hours after being snubbed, Briere scored his team-leading 22nd goal and added three assists in helping Philadelphia overcome a two-goal deficit in a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on Tuesday night.

"I don't think it had too much to do with that," Briere chuckled when asked whether being left off the All-Star list was motivation for his four-point night. "It's out of my control. There's not much I can do about it."

Teammate Scott Hartnell wasn't so politically correct.

"Danny B's having a heck of a season, and it gives him motivation to shove it up whoever didn't pick him," said Hartnell, who scored twice, including an empty-netter in a game that saw the Flyers score the final five goals after Buffalo took a 2-0 lead.

Ville Leino scored the go-ahead goal 2:17 into the third period by having a rebound go in off his skate after Ryan Miller stopped Briere's initial shot from the left circle on a 2-on-1 break. Though Leino moved his right skate in an attempt to kick the puck in, the puck glanced in off his left skate. The goal was reviewed and allowed to stand.

Mike Richards also scored as the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers (27-10-5) won their fourth straight and improved to 12-3-1 in their last 16.

Cody McCormick and Paul Gaustad scored for Buffalo (18-19-5), which led 2-0 before the first period was 10 minutes old. The Sabres lost in regulation for the first time in six games (4-1-1), and just the second time this season when leading by two goals.

It wasn't the way the Sabres had planned to start the second half as they try to make a playoff push after a slow start.

"It's definitely disappointing," said goalie Ryan Miller, who stopped 28 shots. "If we're going to compete with the top teams and win the necessary amount of games to make the playoffs, we have to be better in certain areas."

Coyotes 4, Blue Jackets 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

When you're struggling the way Columbus is struggling, goals like the one Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris scored happen -- and always at the wrong time.

Morris' slap shot hit goalie Mathieu Garon's blocker, popped up in the air, hit him in the back and rolled into the net with 9:16 remaining in regulation, giving the Coyotes a comeback victory and handing the Jackets their fifth consecutive loss.

"It's one of those plays that you do all the time," Morris said. "The power forward makes a good play from the corner up, Marty (Hanzal) did a great job going to the net, somehow -- I think Garon reached out to block it before Marty got there -- and it just squirted up.

"You'll take any goals you can get."

The Jackets looked like they were on their way to breaking their losing streak when Jared Boll and Rostislav Klesla scored in the first 5:54. Vernon Fiddler got one goal back 2:14 into the second, but Kristian Huselius' power-play goal 60 seconds later restored their two-goal lead.

But the Coyotes, who were greeted by a snowstorm when they arrived in Columbus after a win in St. Louis on Monday, wouldn't quit. Eric Belanger made it 3-2 just 27 seconds after Huselius scored, and Radim Vrbata tied it 36 seconds into the third period, one-timing a pass by Ray Whitney into a wide-open net.

Morris' goal put Phoenix ahead, and the Jackets couldn't convert despite spending most of the last 2:55 of regulation on the power play. Instead, it  ended up as just another frustrating night for a club that is 6-14-3 since Nov. 24.

"That goal at the end, obviously when you lose four in a row that is the type of goal that goes in," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "When you are on winning streaks, those stay out."

Bruins 6, Senators 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

It took two tries, but the sellout crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden finally got to celebrate Patrice Bergeron's first NHL hat trick as the Bruins dismantled the Senators.

Bergeron had unassisted goals at 2:50 of the first period and 3:33 of the second. Hats cascaded to the ice when Brad Marchand threw a pass from the corner for Bergeron, who was tangled up with Sergei Gonchar in front and was originally credited with the goal after the puck went into the net at 14:07 to give Boston a 4-0 lead. However, the goal was changed to Marchand.

But Bergeron wound up getting the hat trick anyway -- he poked the puck away from Chris Campoli to Marchand, then took a return pass and beat Mike Brodeur with a high wrister, triggering another outburst of hats.

"Everyone is leaving the building with no hats on," Bergeron said. "I guess I wanted to get it because everyone threw their hats on the ice."

Added coach Claude Julien: "We didn't know if we had to give the hats back the first time. It was nice to see. He had a really good game."

Tyler Seguin and Blake Wheeler also scored for Boston, and Tim Thomas stopped 31 shots for his League-high sixth shutout as the Bruins picked up where they left off Monday, when they scored four goals in the final 3:23 at Pittsburgh to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 victory.

"I just think our forecheck's been a lot better and we're in sync as a line a little bit more," said Bergeron, who has 13 goals. "I thought we were doing good things also before but the puck wasn't going in and now it is, so obviously you have to take it and go with it."

It was the sixth loss in a row for the Senators, who are in danger of dropping out of the playoff picture in the East.

"Not a lot of good out of that game," coach Cory Clouston said. "We turned the puck over too many times, hit a crossbar and a post and they came back on us, both times, and scored. When he had out chances we missed nets, we hit posts. We had too many errors against a very good team that capitalized on its chances."

Predators 5, Wild 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Nick Spaling doubled his season output by scoring a pair of goals in the third period as the Predators polished off the visiting Wild for their sixth win in a row.

Spaling, who entered the night having scored just twice, had two of Nashville's three goals in the third period. Nashville coach Barry Trotz knows how his Predators would have celebrated if Spaling had somehow got No. 3.

"I think we would've left the bench and took the two-minute penalty," Trotz said.

Joel Ward had a goal and an assist, Marcel Goc added an unassisted goal in the third period, David Legwand also had a goal and goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 25 shots.

But Spaling was the star of the night.

"It was nice for him tonight to bury a couple and maybe get some confidence. We've got some big road games coming up here, and we'll build off those," center Jerred Smithson said.

The Predators scored so fast in the third they chased Jose Theodore after Spaling's second goal at 10:39 of the third. Theodore had been the NHL's Third Star last week after going 3-1 with a .946 save percentage.

Minnesota coach Todd Richards said he thought the difference was goaltending, especially on the first two goals allowed.

"Those were the ones he was gobbling up," Richards said of Theodore. "We went all last week, and he had about 100 of those that either hit him, or he caught it and the play was done."

Mikko Koivu scored a goal for Minnesota, which now has lost two straight after a four-game winning streak of its own. The Wild also lost on the road in regulation for the first time since a 6-2 loss Dec. 12 at Anaheim.

Ward put Nashville ahead to stay at 2-1 just 62 seconds into the second period. Theodore had just stopped a shot when Ward backhanded the puck underneath the goalie's outstretched glove for his fifth this season off an assist from Kevin Klein.

"It's all about momentum and confidence," Ward said. "We're just playing with a lot of confidence. We know we had a good trip, but we won't dwell on that. We just think about what's going on right now, and we take it period by period. We're kind of staying focused within ourselves and the task at hand. Tonight was a good game for us and good execution."

Theodore said he made a couple of mistakes that turned into goals, especially on Ward's shot.

"It was a bad rebound, and I tried to clear it right to their guy. Those are the kind of plays I can't make," Theodore said.

Stars 3, Oilers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

The Stars finally remembered how to win at home, but it wasn't easy.

Dallas blew a 2-0 lead in the third period as Edmonton scored twice in less than two minutes, then got the winner at 8:51 on a shot by James Neal that was originally ruled no goal. Neal was knocked down by Jean-Francois Jacques, and the whistle still hadn't blown when he got back to his feet. Play continued until the whistle finally blew for an apparent penalty. Officials then looked at a video replay and awarded the goal.

"As soon as I got hit, I didn't see where it ended up," Neal said. "And there was no reaction from everybody, so we weren't sure."

The shot went off the back bar of the net and came out so quickly even Stars coach Marc Crawford wasn't sure.

"It was difficult to see whether it was in. Half the guys on the bench said it was, and half of us thought it wasn't," Crawford said. "Thankfully, there was video review because it was in the back of the net."

A view from overhead showed clearly that it was a goal.

"It was such a great shot," said Oilers coach Tom Renney, who also thought the puck had hit the crossbar before seeing the replay.

The Stars, the leaders in the Pacific Division, had been 0-3-2 at home since beating Montreal on Dec. 21 -- but are riding a franchise-record seven-game road winning streak, including a 4-0 win Sunday at Minnesota when Benn scored twice.

Edmonton, which fell to 1-7-2 in its last 10 games, took a season-high 41 shots. Kari Lehtonen stopped 39 of them.

"We continue to battle and show character," said Ryan Jones, who tied the game at 2-2. "That's one thing I love about this team, that we play together and stick up for each other and battle for 60 minutes. At some point, this has to turn around."

Jamie Langenbrunner, acquired from New Jersey last week, didn't have a point in his debut for the Stars but did get into a fight with Edmonton's Kurtis Foster.

Canucks 4, Islanders 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Vancouver, the NHL's best team, got all it could handle from the 29th-place Islanders before Ryan Kesler won the game in the shootout, extending the Canucks' non-losing streak in regulation to 17 games.

For's complete game story, click here
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