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Wings edge Predators for seventh straight win

by Brian Compton
Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom and the Red Wings extended their winning streak to seven games with a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Monday night. 
Even when they look exhausted, the Detroit Red Wings still find ways to win.
Chris Osgood stopped all 13 shots he faced in the third period and made a 2-1 lead stand up as the Wings extended their winning streak to seven games with a victory over the Nashville Predators at the Sommet Center on Monday night.

It marks the second time this season that Detroit has won seven games in a row. Special teams played a huge role for the Red Wings, as they killed off seven Nashville power plays.
“The bottom line our specialty teams have been real good for us,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. We’re real confident in them.”
The Red Wings (22-6-2) must also be real confident in Osgood, who improved to 14-1-1 with the victory. His play in the third period was certainly for a Detroit team that was fatigued after having defeated Carolina at Joe Louis Arena only 24 hours earlier.

''We ran out of gas a little bit in the third,'' Osgood said. ''We didn't possess the puck as much as we usually do and that was forcing us to be in our end a lot.''
The Red Wings did spend a lot of time in their own zone, but the penalty killing came up huge time and time again. Combine that with the superb goaltending Osgood has provided all season long, and you’ve got just a couple of reasons why Detroit boasts the best record in the NHL.
''The No. 1 thing for us was our penalty kill was great,'' Osgood said. ''We got in a lot of shooting lanes and pushed them to the outside. Nashville tried a few cross-ice passes and we were there to deflect them away or get a stick on them. We did a good job with our sticks in blocking shots.''
The Red Wings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Tomas Kopecky ( 700K ) and Valtteri Filppula. The latter was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped by Nashville’s Jerred Smithson at the 15:06 mark ( 700K ). On the free breakaway, Filppula skated in on Dan Ellis and flipped a shot over the Nashville netminder to give the Wings a two-goal lead.
''I'm glad that was called,'' Filppula said. ''I could not get a shot off after that. I think that is the biggest reason the penalty shot was called.”
The Predators (14-12-2) cut the deficit in half in the second period, when Martin Gelinas poked a loose puck past Osgood with 24 seconds remaining ( 700K ). The goal came shorthanded, as David Legwand came in on a breakaway before losing control of the puck. Gelinas bailed him out.
''We had a little bit of a rough start and it made it tough to come back,'' Gelinas said. ''They play the puck well and don't give you too much. We got the short-handed goal, and we got a lot of chances, but we couldn't buy another goal.''
With their tank on empty, the Red Wings certainly are grinning ear to ear about the fact they have a couple of days off before returning to action. Detroit will host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
“We need a day off,” Babcock said. “It was a good win for us. We really gave them some life with that shorthanded goal.”
Bruins 4, Sabres 1 | Video
Looks like Alex Auld has found a home in Boston.
Making his second start in a Bruins’ uniform, Auld made 44 saves to lead Boston to a victory at Buffalo.
Marc Savard chipped in with a goal and an assist for the Bruins, but it was Auld who stole the show. Auld -- who was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday -- was simply sensational in the second period, making several spectacular saves to prevent the Sabres from chipping away from a 3-1 deficit.
''When he played for Florida last year he had our number, so I knew he was a good goaltender,'' Savard said. ''Phoenix had a lot of goalies, so their loss is our gain right now for sure.''
Boston scored three times on its first five shots. Savard ( 700K ) and Per Johan Axelsson ( 700K ) gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead with tallies just 44 seconds apart. It was a nice change of pace for Boston, which had only scored five times in its last 11 games.
Jaroslav Spacek made it 2-1 ( 700K ) with a power play goal at the 16:01 mark of the opening period, as he was able to redirect a shot from Tim Connolly past Auld for his seventh goal of the season. But Peter Schaefer quickly regained Boston’s two-goal lead when his shot from the right circle beat Ryan Miller just 70 seconds later ( 700K ).
The Sabres recorded 20 shots on goal in the second period, and Auld stopped all of them.

The Bruins were outshot by a margin of 33-15 over the final two frames, but Auld saw to it that
Boston left with two points in the standings.
''I have a lot of confidence in what I can do, but at the same time you don't want to get too ahead of yourself,'' Auld said. ''I feel I can play in this league and I feel it's where I belong.''
Glen Metropolit rounded out the scoring when he potted his seventh goal of the season 10:08 into the third period ( 700K ), when he was able to put home a rebound after Miller had made an initial save on a shot from Milan Lucic.
''Auld played a strong game, but I need to make some plays,'' Miller said. ''You can't start a game with three quick goals. I have to do better.''
Boston coach Claude Julien wasn’t exactly happy about the way the Bruins played over the last two periods, knowing full well the outcome could have been much different if not for Auld’s performance.
''It's nice to have a situation where you can depend on who you are going to put in there,'' Julien said. ''It was a solid performance on his part. The outcome could have been a lot different, especially if he hadn't bailed us out there in the second period.''
Capitals 3, Devils 2 | Video
Nicklas Backstrom congratulates goaltender Olaf Kolzig after the Washington Capitals held on to defeat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 at the Verizon Center. 
New Jersey didn’t play well in the first period, yet managed to escape the opening 20 minutes in a 1-1 tie.
The Devils were worse in the second, and paid for it severely.
Jeff Schultz ( 700K ) and Quintin Laing ( 700K ) beat Kevin Weekes in a frame that saw Washington outshoot New Jersey by a 10-2 margin, as the Capitals skated past the Devils at the Verizon Center.
New Jersey coach Brent Sutter was none too pleased with his team’s performance in the middle frame.

“Our second period was brutal,” Sutter said. “We had 18 brutal players in the second period. We left our goalie hung out.”
It was a special night for Laing, whose goal in the second period was the first of his NHL career.
''I won't let it out of my sight,'' Laing said. ''It was kind of a harmless shot. ... I would have liked it to have been the insurance goal, but the game-winner I'll take.''
Washington interim coach Bruce Boudreau coached Laing in Hershey in the American Hockey League, and was happy to see his player get rewarded with such a big tally.
''That's a guy who's toiled for most of his life (in) the low minors. To score the winning goal in an important game for us, that's a really cool thing,'' Boudreau said.
The Devils actually had an early lead, as John Madden broke a scoreless tie 5:56 into the game ( 700K ). But Nicklas Backstrom tied things up on the power play when he got around two New Jersey defenders before firing a shot between the pads of Weekes to make it 1-1 ( 700K ).
It was the first time Weekes received the starting nod since Nov. 12, but the Devils’ backup netminder could hardly be blamed for what transpired in the second period, when New Jersey was badly outplayed.
“We came out a little flat in the first, but we were able to come out with a 1-1 tie,” Madden said.

“The second period was just awful. We probably didn’t have one player that played well in the
second. It cost us the game. We decided to come out and play in the third, but it was just too late.”
David Clarkson got the Devils within one when he beat Olaf Kolzig just 2:18 into the third ( 700K ). But the Devils failed to notch the equalizer, as their horrid second period was simply too much to overcome.
Granted, New Jersey had played 24 hours earlier against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. But Sutter quickly erased any hope of using fatigue as an excuse for the way the Devils played in the middle frame.
“How can you be tired when you play a third period like we played?,” Sutter said. “We lost our focus in the second and just doing things we’re not supposed to be doing. We got outworked in the second. They played with a higher work ethic and a higher sense of urgency, and it showed. We played the whole period in our end.”
Maple Leafs 6, Lightning 1 | Video
Nothing like gaining a little bit of momentum before a long trip.
Toronto scored four times in the second period and Chad Kilger had a pair of goals as the Leafs pummeled Tampa Bay at Air Canada Centre. It’s the last home game for Toronto until Dec. 29, as the Leafs are about to embark on a seven-game road trip.
Toronto has also improved to 5-1-1 since that 5-1 loss at Phoenix on Nov. 24, which sparked outrage from Leafs’ fans who were demanding changes.
''Sometimes you need an absurd amount of pressure to get things going,'' Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. ''So absurd that you think the entire game of hockey will be called off based on the way the Leafs are playing. It helps put things in perspective.''
No matter how you slice it, Toronto is suddenly on a roll. The turnovers have decreased, the lines are clicking and Vesa Toskala is providing the goaltending the Leafs were banking on when they acquired him over the summer.

''The confidence level on this team is high,'' said Leafs forward Kyle Wellwood, who had two assists.
Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier failed to notch a point for the first time since Nov. 29 against Detroit. With the loss, the Lightning fell to 2-11-1 on the road.
''It's very disappointing … not the game we wanted to play,'' said Lecavalier. ''We played well in the first period but after that we couldn't keep the play in their zone.''
The second period was all Leafs, as Jason Blake ( 700K ), Mats Sundin ( 700K ), Nik Antropov ( 700K ) and Kilger ( 700K ) all scored in a span of 4:32, just moments after Tampa Bay lost center Brad Richards to what appears to be a minor leg injury. Lightning coach John Tortorella pulled goaltender Johan Holmqvist after Kilger’s goal in favor of Marc Denis. Holmqvist allowed four goals on 21 shots.
“We keep doing a lot of good things,” Sundin said. “We’re playing better defensively. We’ve done a lot of things better the last two or three weeks. It seems like we’re more consistent with our defensive play. That’s a pretty good offensive team, and we didn’t give them a lot of room.”
Stars 5, Oilers 4, OT | Video
Dallas captain Brenden Morrow netted the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Dallas Stars to a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night.
There’s nothing like getting a second chance.
Moments after Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov missed chances to win the game, Morrow redirected Zubov’s feed past Mathieu Garon as Dallas edged Edmonton at the American Airlines Center.
With the Stars on a 4-on-3 power play in the extra session, Morrow capitalized on Jarret Stoll’s holding penalty when he took a pass from Zubov and lifted it over Garon for his 10th goal of the season. The Oilers are now 3-17-1 in Dallas since 1996.
The win gave the Stars sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division, as they moved two points ahead of the idle San Jose Sharks.
''We tried the same play 30 seconds before and I flubbed it,'' Morrow said. ''We talked it over a little during a timeout. He made the pass crisp and where it had to be.''
Zubov scored in the second period ( 700K ) and added three assists as the Stars improved to 16-11-4. The Russian veteran leads all NHL defensemen with 28 points this season.
''Zubov had an amazing game and he makes it look easy sometimes,'' said Stars; forward Mike Ribeiro, who had a goal and an assist. ''He sees things before they happen and is so patient with the puck.''
Dwayne Roloson was chased from the Oilers’ net in this one, as Dallas peppered him for three goals in the game’s first 9:06. After Mike Modano gave the Stars a 3-2 lead ( 700K ), Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish opted to pull Roloson in favor of Garon.
''Three goals in 10 minutes is too much,'' MacTavish said. ''I can't say exactly what the problem was, but it was time for a change.''
Sam Gagner ( 700K ), Dustin Penner ( 700K ), Tom Gilbert ( 700K ) and Shawn Horcoff ( 700K ) scored for the struggling Oilers (13-16-2), who lost their third in a row. Gagner’s father, Dave Gagner, played for the Stars from 1987-96.
''Points are valuable home or away, and against a young, hungry team, it makes them bigger,'' Dallas coach Dave Tippett said.

Kings 4, Canucks 2 | Video
Dustin Brown and Derek Armstrong each had a goal and an assist, as Los Angeles gave veteran defenseman Rob Blake a victory on his 38th birthday.
It was an impressive win over the Canucks, who lead the Northwest Division with 35 points and were on the first of a five-game road trip. Taylor Pyatt and Alexander Edler scored for Vancouver, which lost in regulation for only the third time in 17 games.
Curtis Sanford got the starting nod in goal for the Canucks after Roberto Luongo suffered an undisclosed injury during warmups. Sanford allowed two goals in the opening period, as the Kings took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission thanks to tallies from Brad Stuart and Anze Kopitar.
"It's a little tougher to get in there last minute," Sanford said. "You always prepare yourself to play, whether you're playing or backing up. I know I was prepared to get in there and it was nice to get the start tonight. I work hard in practice to be prepared for situations like this."
Armstrong made it 3-1 at the 4:49 mark of the second period with his second goal in three games. It was a textbook case of being in the right place at the right time, as Jack Johnson’s shot from the point hit Blake’s stick before going right to Armstrong, who flipped the puck over Sanford for the easy tally.
“My line did a great job,” said Armstrong, who also scored in last Thursday’s 8-2 win over Buffalo. “I just kind of went to the net and had my eyes closed like the other night, and it went in.”
Brown potted his 14th goal of the season with 8:19 left in the third period, when he redirected a cross-ice feed from Armstrong from the left circle past Sanford to make it 4-1. Edler scored on the power play with 2:30 to play to round out the scoring.
“We came out there in the third period with a 3-1 lead and played exactly how we needed to,” Brown said. “We didn’t give up many shots. They didn’t have much of an offensive threat in the third.”

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