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Wings douse Flames for perfect trip

by John Kreiser
Chris Osgood made 26 saves to improve to 7-0-0 for the season and is 14-0-5 in his last 19 decisions.
The Detroit Red Wings are the NHL’s hottest team, and Henrik Zetterberg is a big reason why.

Hours after being named the NHL’s top player in October, Zetterberg got a head start on winning the honor in November by scoring twice as the Wings completed a three-game sweep through Western Canada with a 4-1 victory over the Flames in Calgary ( 700K ).

Zetterberg scored twice as Detroit completed its first 3-0 swing through Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary in 21 tries since the Flames moved to Alberta from Atlanta in 1980.

“We have such a great team and the whole team is playing really good right now,” said Zetterberg, who leads the NHL with 24 points and has at least one point in each of the Wings’ 14 games this season.

Zetterberg put the Red Wings ahead to stay at 10:44 of the first period after Jiri Hudler tied it at 9:11.

With Detroit leading 3-1 in the third period, Zetterberg connected again on a power play at 10:44 to put the game away after the Flames had dominated the first half of the period.

"It was one of those games when we got the puck, we got the puck in the net,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "They had a good push in the third period, but I thought we were pretty good in the first two and then we capitalized on the power play.”

Alex Tanguay had the only goal for Calgary, which ended its season-long seven-game homestand at 4-2-1.

“Detroit's a good team, but all of us in here would agree we didn't play our best game – and when you don't do that, you don't give yourself a chance at winning,” Tanguay said.

Chris Osgood made 26 saves to improve to 7-0-0 for the season and is 14-0-5 in his last 19 decisions.

“I’m confident and I’m feeling good when I'm playing,” Osgood said. “I’ve had some breaks along the way, too, but you have to get to that kind of record.”

Islanders 4, Lightning 0 | Video
Rick DiPietro rebounded from one of the worst games of his career with one of his best, stopping 28 shots as the Islanders kept Tampa Bay winless on the road.

DiPietro stopped just eight of 14 shots last Saturday in the Isles’ 8-3 home loss to Carolina. This time, he stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first period and allowed the Islanders to skate off with a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes despite being outplayed.

“We had a lot of days off, and we put up a stinker,” DiPietro said of the blowout loss to Carolina, which followed six off days. “We wanted to rectify the situation.”

Bill Guerin scored in the first period on assist from Mike Sillinger, who played in his 1,000th NHL game, and DiPietro. Josef Vasicek and ex-Bolt Ruslan Fedotenko added second-period goals and Trent Hunter scored during a delayed penalty in the third.

“Our best player was Ricky,” coach Ted Nolan said. “He made some big saves early, and we got better as the game went on.”

Sillinger became the 223rd player to reach the 1,000-game mark and was honored before the game.

“It’s an honor to be in that 200-plus guys who have played 1,000 games,” Sillinger said. “It's quite an accomplishment. Knock on wood, I've been healthy and played roughly 70 games a year, carrying into my 17th season. I've always stayed in shape.”

Tampa Bay had beaten the Islanders in their last eight regular-season meetings and 11 in a row overall, dating back to the 2004 playoffs. But the Lightning have lost all six road games this season, allowing 28 goals. That includes an 0-for-3 trip through the New York area this week in which Tampa Bay was outscored 13-2.

“Our first period was better for us offensively than the rest of this trip combined," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "That was our best period of the trip. DiPietro was the difference, and that was the difference in the game.”

Center Vincent Lecavalier agreed.

“We had some great chances in the first period,” Lecavalier said. “We just can't seem to get a lead on the road. We're skating well. It's just not going our way.”

Rangers 2, Capitals 0 | Video
The Rangers still aren’t scoring many goals, but they’re giving up even fewer. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots for his third shutout this season as the Rangers won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Lundqvist has allowed just 20 goals while playing all 12 games for the Rangers, who’ve scored a league-low 21 goals – so he’s used to working with little support.

Brendan Shanahan congratulates Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist after completing a 2-0 shutout of the Washington Capitals.

“Another night at the office,” Lundqvist said. “It was an intense game. It felt like they were all over us a little bit.”

Lundqvist says he has no interest in taking a night off anytime soon. He looks like the goalie who carried the Rangers down the stretch last season, when he went 16-4-6 down the stretch and had a 1.89 goals-against average in his final 44 games.

“You have to give all the credit to Hank,” forward Brendan Shanahan said. “He kept us in the game the first period. He was great throughout, but in the first period it was really just him.”

Washington had 10 shots while dominating the opening period but couldn’t beat Lundqvist.

“He's definitely on his game," said Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig, who made 26 saves. “He’s the reason the Rangers have won five games. They'll be scary if they ever get their offense together.”

Chris Drury, one of the Rangers’ two big free-agent signings, scored his first goal since opening night to open the scoring at 6:45 of the second period, getting the shaft of his stick on rookie Mark Staal’s shot and deflecting it past Olaf Kolzig.

“I've been getting a lot of good chances,” Drury said. “I knew if I kept playing hard and kept working at it, I had a feeling that things would happen.”

Michal Rozsival added a power-play goal midway through the third period.

The Capitals lost for the seventh time in nine games since starting the season with three straight wins.

“We didn’t capitalize in the first period when we had lots of chances,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “I was asked before the game who the top goalies in the league were, and I said there are lots of them and you were going to watch two of them.”

Bruins 4, Sabres 3, OT | Video
Maybe it was the presence of the 2004 and 2007 World Series trophies at center ice before the game that inspired the Bruins to a rare home victory over the Sabres.

Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner gave Boston fans a chance to cheer when they brought the trophies onto the ice before the game. Marco Sturm sent them home happy when he beat Ryan Miller with 52.3 seconds left in overtime, redirecting Aaron Ward’s shot into the net. It was just the third home win for Boston in the Sabres’ last 11 visits to TD Banknorth Garden.

“I was standing in front of the net and got a lucky tip,” Sturm said. “We have a lot of big division games coming up so this was a good start.”

The Bruins took a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals by Glen Metropolit and Phil Kessel. Buffalo’s Maxim Afinogenov cut the lead in half before the end of the period, and Brian Campbell tied it 2:09 into the third period. Marc Savard put Boston back in front 59 seconds later, but Paul Gaustad’s tip-in on a power play sent the game into OT.

"It seemed like it took a while until we got going," Campbell said. "The winner was a fluky goal and they had some bounces on that play."

Senators 6, Thrashers 4 | Video
There are nights when a win can feel like a loss. The Ottawa Senators had that feeling after nearly blowing a five-goal lead to the visiting Thrashers.

Ottawa's Chris Neil, left, hits Atlanta's Garnet Exelby during the Senators' 6-4 win.

“For us, it feels like a loss,” Senators coach John Paddock said. “It’s just a good lesson. You win the game, but it still feels like a loss. You don’t let up. You just can never let up because something can go wrong.”

The Senators led 5-0 after two periods, but Ilya Kovalchuk scored three times in Atlanta’s four-goal third period. Kovalchuk cut the margin to 5-4 when he completed his hat trick with 2:33 left in regulation, but Daniel Alfredsson hit the empty net with 22 seconds left to assure the Senators of their fifth straight win and 10th in 11 games this season. Alfredsson had two goals and two assists and newcomer Randy Robitaille scored twice before leaving with a facial injury.

The Thrashers had just six shots in the first two periods before making a game of it in the third.

“You play for pride,” Thrashers general manager and interim coach Don Waddell said. “We talked about it between the periods. We play for pride or we pack up and head for Tampa.”

Ducks 2, Blue Jackets 1, SO | Video
While Paddock said the Senators’ win felt like a loss, Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock was all smiles even though his team lost a shootout at Anaheim.

“We knew it would be hard,” said Hitchcock, whose team won 4-1 in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. “They had a little more energy than we did, but we fought like crazy. Three out of four (points) on the road – you have to be real happy with that.”

Defenseman Mathieu Schneider, making his debut as a Duck after breaking his ankle in training camp and missing 13 games, had the only goal of the shootout. He drove a shot through Fredrik Norrena’s pads in the second round in the first shootout attempt of his career.

“I thought we could have won it a lot sooner – we played well enough,” he said after snapping Anaheim’s four-game losing streak. Columbus had won four in a row.

Rob Niedermayer broke a scoreless tie 13 seconds into the third period with his first goal of the season, poking his own rebound past Norrena. But Nikolai Zherdev tied the score at 3:46 when he banged the rebound of Ron Hainsey’s shot behind Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Giguere, who has struggled in shootouts, stopped all three Columbus shooters – but couldn’t dampen the Jackets’ enthusiasm.

“This was very positive,” captain Adam Foote said. “Anaheim played their ‘A’ game – the best they can play. We should be proud of ourselves – we’re playing good team hockey. Anything can happen in a shootout.”

Blues 3, Wild 2 | Video
Minnesota was the last team to lose in regulation. Since then, losing is all the Wild has done.

Jay McKee, Brad Boyes and Bryce Salvador of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Boyes' ninth goal of the season.

Jay McKee’s first goal in 34 games, a slap shot with 12:14 remaining in regulation, extended the Wild’s losing streak to five games after a 7-0-1 start. It’s heir longest slide since a seven-game streak Feb. 22-March 7, 2004.

“We got six, seven guys that could play better, if not 10,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said.

McKee, better known for blocking shots than scoring goals, came down the slot and fired a pass from Ryan Johnson behind Josh Harding to break a 2-2 tie.

“It was a perfect pass. One-timer passes, if they come too fast, I can't handle it,” said McKee, who has missed most of the last two seasons with injuries after leading the NHL in blocked shots in 2005-06. “He laid it out there just perfectly. With a pass like that you've got to finish.”

Not even the return of injured snipers Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik, who each had a goal and an assist while playing with Mikko Koivu, could help the Wild.

“It was the best line, there's no doubt, by a mile,” Lemaire said. “They were both skating well; they felt good.”

Canadiens 5, Flyers 2 | Video
Montreal courted free-agent center Daniel Briere this summer before he signed with Philadelphia. The Canadiens seem to be doing just fine without him.

Briere’s first visit to the Bell Centre as a Flyer turned into Philadelphia’s third loss in four games as Saku Koivu had a goal and an assist for Montreal.

Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau was pleased with the job Koivu and his wing, Chris Higgins and Michael Ryder, did in matching up against Briere’s line. Higgins also scored a goal as the Canadiens improved to 5-0-1 in their last six games.

“Knowing Saku, Chris and Michael, they wanted that challenge and they did really well against him,” Carbonneau said.

Mike Richards and Scottie Upshall scored for the Flyers, who are halfway through an eight-game road trip.

The Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 let Briere know right away what they thought about his decision to sign with Philadelphia – they booed him on his first shift, a minute into the game, and any time he touched the puck the rest of the night.

“They’re fans who are loyal to their team,” Briere said. “I can’t get caught up in that. I’m sure they were waiting for this, and I was ready for it. I had fun with it, and I just wish that we had come out with a better game, but you have to give the Canadiens credit – they played well.”

Predators 3, Canucks 0 | Video
The NHL’s worst road team found the answer to its problems – a team that can’t seem to win at home.
Dan Ellis is congratulated by teammate Greg Zanon after recording a shutout against the the Vancouver Canucks.

Nashville won its first road game of the season after five straight losses as David Legwand and Martin Erat scored on the Predators’ first two shots of the game. Dan Ellis made 29 saves as the Canucks fell to 1-6-0 at GM Place and 1-5-0 in their last six games overall.

Legwand gave the Predators their first road lead of the season at 6:16 of the first period when he beat Roberto Luongo through the legs with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle. Erat connected on a breakaway two minutes later after taking a pass from J.P. Dumont.

“We caught a couple of breaks, got some good goaltending, and came out of the first period with a lead which is a novelty on the road,” coach Barry Trotz said.

Ellis did the rest as the Canucks dominated play. His best stop came with less than three minutes left, when he stopped Brendan Morrison point-blank on a power play. Jason Arnott added a power-play goal for Nashville with 8.6 seconds remaining as the Predators matched their goal total for their first five road games.

“We expect them to forecheck hard, which they did, and we were able to create the chances that we did from that,” Erat said.

The Canucks lost the two points – and two defensemen. Kevin Bieksa left late in the second period, bleeding from what appeared to be a skate cut across the back of his right calf. Sami Salo was hit flush in the face by teammate Alexander Edler’s clearing attempt with four minutes to play and was also bleeding as he was taken off the ice.

Material from wire services and team media were used in this report.

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