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Wings soar to 4-2 win over Avalanche

by John Kreiser
With Thursday's 402 win over Colorado, the Detroit Red Wings won their second game in two nights, improved to an NHL-best 28-7-3 for the season and have lost just once in regulation since Nov. 22.
The Detroit Red Wings are playing so well that not even a terrific performance by a well-rested opponent was good enough to beat them.

Valtteri Filppula scored two goals for the second straight game and Dominik Hasek made 22 saves in the Red Wings' 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. It was Detroit’s 11th win in 13 games this month and their 13th victory in 15 games.

''I thought we played a great game. It's disappointing, certainly,'' Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. ''We did everything we wanted to do except win the game.''

Winning is something the Wings are good at. They won their second game in two nights, improved to an NHL-best 28-7-3 for the season and have lost just once in regulation since Nov. 22.

''We're playing really good team defense,'' captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. ''We are limiting scoring chances, and our goaltending has been solid. We are playing so well defensively that we can be patient on the other end.''

A little good fortune doesn’t hurt. Filppula, who had two goals in Detroit's 5-0 win over St. Louis on Wednesday, got his first goal when Colorado defenseman Brett Clark knocked in the rebound of his shot as he tried to clear the puck.

''You get goals like that when things are going well,'' said Filppula, who has 13 goals this season and eight in 10 games. ''The last two nights I got some pretty good goals. The puck is going in right now.''

The Avs, who hadn’t played since Sunday, matched the Red Wings for the first half of the game. After Filppula made it 2-0 with 2:55 left in the first period, Cody McLeod scored his first NHL goal 92 seconds later and Marek Svatos tied it 5:56 into the second period.

''We hung in there,'' Colorado forward Andrew Brunette said. ''We started slow, but as the game progressed we had some opportunities.''

Jiri Hudler broke a 2-2 tie with 9 minutes left in the second period when his slap shot from the right circle beat Peter Budaj over his left shoulder.

The Avalanche had chances to get the equalizer in the final five minutes. Lidstrom went off for tripping with 3:58 left but Colorado couldn't score on the power play. The Avalanche pulled Budaj with 1:10 left and nearly tied it when defenseman Kyle Cumiskey broke in alone but was stopped by Hasek. A minute later, Mikael Samuelsson scored into an empty net to seal the win.

''I thought if we played like that we'd have better results,'' Quenneville said. ''They're a dangerous team.''

The Avs had won five straight at the Pepsi Center and were 15-3-0 at home before the loss.

''We found a way to win the game,'' Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. ''We didn't have nearly the energy we normally have. We played a good team that is very comfortable at home.''

The Avs played their first game after finding out that captain Joe Sakic is likely to miss most of the rest of the regular season. He’s been out all month and will undergo hernia surgery.

“We can’t replace Joe Sakic,” forward Ryan Smyth said. “Everyone has to step up. Collectively we can pull through it.”

Flyers 4, Maple Leafs 1 | Video
Philadelphia finally finished off an opponent, scoring twice in the third period to put away Toronto and snap a six-game home losing streak.

"When we got the lead we didn't sit back at all. We went out there and finished," said forward Joffrey Lupul, who scored twice. "We've had some leads, especially at home, and we've let teams back in the game. Tonight, even when they made it 2-1 we still played as a confident team."

Jeff Carter and Daniel Briere also scored as the Flyers won for only the second time in 11 home games after opening the season 6-0 in Philadelphia. The victory washed away some of the bad taste of back-to-back weekend losses to Buffalo in which the Flyers blew third-period leads.

"After a while you forget what it is to win," Briere said. "It tastes a lot better than losing, the way we were lately, especially the way we were finding ways to lose. That was frustrating."

Carter scored with 35 seconds left in the opening period ( 700K ) and Lupul got his first during a power play at 17:23 of the second ( 700K ). Toronto got one back on Mats Sundin’s power-play goal with 27 seconds left in the period ( 700K ), but Briere ( 700K ) and Lupul ( 700K ) scored in the first 7:56 of the third period to put the game away.

The Leafs finished 2-3-2 on their seven-game road trip, though the loss was their fifth in six games.

"We've played far better for the majority of the trip," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. "We're just showing the result of not putting pucks in the net."

Ducks 2, Oilers 1 | Video
The return of Scott Niedermayer has the Anaheim Ducks looking more like the team that won the Stanley Cup last spring. The addition of Doug Weight is also starting to pay dividends. Weight scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:39 left in regulation as the Ducks improved to 4-0-1 since Niedermayer’s return after he decided to put off retirement.

Doug Weight celebrates his game-winning goal against the Edmonton Oilers.

''We're playing much better than we were at the beginning of the season,'' Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said after Anaheim improved to 19-15-5. ''I think we finally have our game together and have figured out what we need to win. Having Scott back really helps and you add a guy like Doug Weight and that makes for a strong team. We needed to get our game back if we wanted to be part of the playoffs and be successful again.''

Weight took a pass from Bobby Ryan and beat Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon for the game-winner. Corey Perry also scored for the Ducks while Marty Reasoner had Edmonton’s goal.

''Obviously since Dougie came over and Scotty came back it's been really good,'' Ducks captain Chris Pronger said. ''The distraction of what Scotty was going to do and what he wasn't going to do isn't there any more. Having a guy like that back and then adding Dougie for that second line as well, it certainly gave us a center who has been able to produce all throughout his career.''

Reasoner’s tip-in at 4:32 of the second period gave the Oilers the lead, but Perry converted Todd Bertuzzi’s pass about eight minutes later to tie the game.

The Oilers fell to 16-19-3 after their fourth straight loss. Edmonton has struggled at home this season, going 8-11-1 at Rexall Place.

''It's the thing that is keeping us out of the mix right now,'' Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. ''Our inability to have success at home.''

Canadiens 5, Lightning 2 | Video
Has Tampa Bay hit bottom? The Lightning dropped into Eastern Conference cellar after being routed at home by Montreal. The loss left the Bolts with 33 points, tied with Washington for last place in the East.

''We have zip for confidence,'' Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said after his team’s eighth loss in 10 games. ''We can't give our problems to someone else. We need to mentally, first of all, start thinking, 'I need to make a difference. I need to regain my confidence here.' Hopefully a few guys start doing that, and maybe a good thing happens.''

Andrei Markov ( 700K ) and Andrei Kastsitsyn ( 700K ) scored 24 seconds apart early in the third period, putting the Canadiens ahead 5-0. Maxim Lapierre ( 700K ), Guillaume Latendresse ( 700K ) and Alex Kovalev ( 700K ) also scored for Montreal, which had lost two in a row. The Canadiens are 12-6-2 away from home.

''On the road, we seem to play more relaxed and kind of play the game with nothing to lose,'' Kovalev said. ''When we come back home, we try to overdue things. We try to do a little bit extra because family is in the building, and friends and all of our fans.''

Vinny Prospal ( 700K ) and Jan Hlavac ( 700K ) scored third-period goals for the Lightning, which has scored two goals or fewer in regulation in 10 of their last 11 games.

''This is pretty low,'' forward Martin St. Louis said. ''This is as low as we've hit for a long time. It happens. You don't like it when it happens. You grow from it, and you battle though it. There's no doubt in my mind we'll come out of this.”

Predators 4, Blue Jackets 3 | Video
Columbus just can’t find a way to beat Nashville. The Blue Jackets took a 3-2 lead with 5:33 remaining in regulation on a goal by Jiri Novotny, but Jordin Tootoo tied the game 56 seconds later and Ville Koistinen’s first NHL goal with 1:45 left in regulation ( 700K ) gave the Predators their 12th straight win over Columbus.

Radek Bonk celebrates a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets with Ville Koistinen and forward David Legwand.

It was the 300th win for both the Predators and Trotz, marking the 18th time a coach has won 300 games with an NHL team. Scotty Bowman did it with Montreal and Detroit. Lindy Ruff, who has 377 wins with Buffalo, is the only other coach who has reached the milestone with his current team.

''It's great for the franchise,'' said Trotz, the only coach the Preds have ever had. ''It says we have been around for a while. It is big for the organization in our 10th year. Every win is a part of Predators history. It is a milestone, but we hope we can carry on and have even bigger milestones.'' Trotz said he has no explanation for his team’s success against the Jackets.

''There is no secret to beating Columbus,'' Trotz said. ''And if there was I wouldn't tell you. They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us.''

Predators goalie Chris Mason improved to 4-0 against the Blue Jackets by stopping 36 shots.

''We don't like them and they surely don't like us,'' Mason said. ''Every game is a one-goal game. We have had to scrap for every point.''

Jason Arnott ( 700K ) and Alexander Radulov ( 700K ) also scored for Nashville. Kris Beech ( 700K ) and David Vyborny ( 700K ) had power-play goals for the Blue Jackets.

Novotny jammed the rebound of Nikolai Zherdev’s shot behind Mason to put the Jackets ahead ( 700K ). But Tootoo tied it less than a minute later when he scored from the right circle ( 700K ), and Koistinen scored the winning goal with 1:45 left when he fired a loose puck between the left post and Fredrik Norrena's stick ( 700K ).

''We spit the bit in the final five minutes,'' Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Canucks 5, Flames 3 | Video
Vancouver couldn’t win at GM Place for the first month of the season. Now the Canucks can’t lose there. Five Canucks had goals in a rare offensive outburst as Vancouver improved to 9-0-2 in its last 11 home games.

Henrik Sedin broke a 3-3 tie with a goal at 17:05 of the second period and Taylor Pyatt jammed in a rebound after Mason Raymond was stopped on a breakaway. “We don’t score five goals very often,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “We don’t give up three goals very often. I don’t know if we had an offensive outburst of if their goalie had a tough night.”

Miikka Kiprusoff was pulled after Pyatt’s goal. He allowed five goals on 20 shots.

“I try not to think about it. Usually when you get pulled, you haven't done your job," said Kiprusoff. "Like I said, I can't be happy with that. Nothing I can do now."

Calgary appeared to close the gap three minutes later, when Cory Sarich’s point shot was knocked out of the air and past Luongo, but the goal was waved off because it was ruled that Mark Smith tipped it with a high stick.

After Jarome Iginla put the Flames ahead 5:52 into the game, Vancouver jumped to a 3-1 lead after the first 20 minutes on goals by Raymond, Daniel Sedin and Sami Salo. But Calgary tied it on goals 1:54 apart in the second by Craig Conroy and Matthew Lombardi.

Roberto Luongo made 29 saves for the Canucks, who have won all four games against Calgary this season and moved five points ahead of them atop the Northwest Division.

The Flames lost for the first time in regulation in December, falling to 7-1-4 this month. Their six-game road winning streak also ended.

Senators 5, Islanders 2 | Video
Ottawa’s speed and skill were too much for the visiting Islanders, especially with starting goalie Rick DiPietro sidelined with a knee injury. Jason Spezza’s power-play goal — his 300th career point — triggered a three-goal second period as the Senators improved to 9-1-1 in their last 11 games.

New York's Brendan Witt skates away as Daniel Alfresson, Wade Redden and Dany Heatley congratulate teammate Jason Spezza on his goal during second period.

"I made sure I got the puck for him," Spezza said of the milestone point, which came in his 277th NHL game. "It's obviously something that's important, but it's not that important. It's just one of those things you want to get out of the way."

After Spezza scored 61 seconds into the second period ( 700K ), Daniel Alfredsson got his 22nd goal of the season at 2:44 ( 700K ). Antoine Vermette added a shorthanded goal late in the second period ( 700K ) and Nick Foligno ( 700K ) and Mike Fisher ( 700K ) added third-period goals in Ottawa’s third consecutive win.

"The bottom line is we're back to playing well," said Dany Heatley, who had two assists to reach the 50-point mark for the season. "I thought we played pretty solid tonight. Three in a row, you know, that's the most important thing."

Martin Gerber made 25 saves for the Senators, who lost to DiPietro and the Islanders in a shootout in late November, when they were slumping. Bill Guerin had two third-period goals for the Islanders ( 700K, 700K ), who got 32 saves from backup Wade Dubielewicz, who got the win in relief against Toronto on Wednesday after DiPietro left with a knee sprain.

“I think he understands the position he's in," Guerin said of Dubielewicz, who is 0-3 as a starter but has won twice in relief. "Ricky's going to play 95 percent of the games and that's just where it is but he came in last night and played great for us. He came in tonight and played really solid for us, so we have to be as good in front of Dubie as we are in front of Ricky, and as confident. We have to show Dubie that we're willing to play as hard in front of him."

Wild 3, Coyotes 2 | Video
One night after being riddled for eight goals in Dallas, Minnesota surrendered 48 shots in Phoenix — but coach Jacques Lemaire was happy with his team after Nicklas Backstrom’s 46-save performance helped the Wild hold off the Coyotes.

“We were better tonight than last night, even though they had 48 shots,” Lemaire said. “It was hard for us after we got beat like that, and it was probably the best thing for us to play the next night.”

The Wild got a power-play goal in each period and went 3-for-4 with the man advantage. Erik Belanger scored 2:08 into the game, Mark Parrish scored his first goal since Nov. 15 and 200th in the NHL on a backhander midway through the second period and Brian Rolston fired a screened slap shot past Ilya Bryzgalov 3:51 into the third period.

Joel Perrault tied the game at 1-1 with a power-play goal early in the second period and recently recalled Enver Lisin cut the deficit to one with 2:27 to play.

Lemaire said Belanger’s goal was important after the debacle in Dallas.

“We were a little fragile in the first period,” he said. “Getting the first goal meant a lot for the team. Getting that goal made the team feel better.”

Though the Coyotes had 48 shots, they didn’t get many rebounds and second chances — which didn’t please coach Wayne Gretzky.

''We're not scoring enough on the power play,'' he said. ''I mean, 14 percent is just not good enough. We had too many guys on the power play who turned pucks over and giving pucks away. Our power play was horrendous.''

The Coyotes fell to 5-9-1 at Arena, the worst home mark in the NHL.

''On the road, we're finding ways to win. And home, we're finding ways to come up short,'' captain Shane Doan said. ''It comes down to being ready to start, and bearing down on our opportunities.''

Panthers 5, Thrashers 3 | Video
Nathan Horton’s first two-goal game since last March 27 helped Florida do something it hadn’t done since November 2004 — win at Atlanta.

The Panthers had been 0-10-1 in their last 11 visits to Philips Arena, but first-period goals by Horton and Radek Dvorak put Florida ahead 2-0 and the Panthers staved off a third-period rally by the Thrashers for the win.

Florida defenseman Ruslan Salei celebrates his goal with teammates against the Atlanta Thrashers.

''We hadn't won here for I don't know how long,'' Horton said. ''That's why it was so good to win here tonight.''

The Panthers held Ilya Kovalchuk scoreless through two periods, but he had two goals ( 700K, 700K ) and an assist on Mark Recchi’s tally in a wild third period ( 700K ). Goals by Ruslan Salei ( 700K ) and Horton ( 700K ) kept the Panthers ahead by two until Kovalchuk’s shorthanded goal with 5:27 remaining cut the margin to 4-3.

''He's a great player,'' said Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun, who finished with 38 saves. ''His goals are not by accident. He's smart and he has speed.''

Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester iced the win when he hit the empty net with 56 seconds remaining ( 700K ).

''We hadn't won here,'' Panthers captain Olli Jokinen said. ''We've been missing the playoffs by four or six points, and Atlanta's been taking those points away.''

Recchi said the Thrashers got themselves into too big a hole.

''Any time you get down in this league, it's so hard to come back,'' Recchi said. ''We battled hard and kept trying to do the right things. Tonight was one of those nights you deserve better.''

Florida coach Martin won his 497th game, putting him in 10th place and one ahead of Glen Sather on the NHL career list. In his third season with Florida, Martin has 90 victories. He also coached 8 1/2 years in Ottawa and two in St. Louis.

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

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