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Wings top Blue Jackets in shootout

by Brian Compton
Red Wings' goaltender Chris Osgood made 36 stops as Detroit snapped a three-game losing skid with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets
Mired in a season-long scoring drought, Detroit Red Wings left wing Johan Franzen admittedly was gripping his stick a little tighter than usual.
But when the 220-pound forward was called upon by coach Mike Babcock in the fifth round of a shootout on Sunday, Franzen did not disappoint, as his tally against Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire gave the Red Wings a 5-4 win over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

While Franzen won’t be credited with a goal on the scoresheet, it certainly should provide some confidence, knowing he finally found the back of the net at a time when Detroit needed him the most. Sunday’s win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Red Wings (14-5-1).
“It felt great to get this goal,” Franzen said. “I’ve been struggling a little bit lately. It felt real good.”
Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom enjoyed a solid game, tallying a goal and two assists to help his team improve to 7-3-1 on the road. The Red Wings – who allowed three power play goals to a team that scored just three times in its last 44 opportunities with the man advantage -- needed a tally from Pavel Datsyuk with 4:50 remaining to erase a 4-3 deficit. Lidstrom has 18 points in 21 games. ( 700K )
''They scored three power play goals and kept us on our heels,'' Lidstrom said. ''We battled through that and even in the third period we were down a goal and we still came back.''
Chris Osgood made 36 saves and stopped former teammate Sergei Fedorov to keep his team alive in the shootout and made a glove save on David Vyborny’s chance after Franzen gave the Red Wings the lead.
''I just tried to stay out and big, make them make a great shot to score,'' Osgood said.
Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev each had a goal and two assists for the Blue Jackets, who dropped to 0-4 in shootouts this season. Columbus has now dropped six of its last seven games.
Zherdev broke a 3-3 tie with 6:09 to play in regulation when he jammed Nash’s rebound past Osgood to give the Blue Jackets the lead. But Detroit stormed back just 79 seconds later, when Datsyuk put his own rebound past Leclaire to make it 4-4. ( 700K )
''They're the best team in the Western Conference, but we should have a lot of confidence from this,'' Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''We pushed them to the brink.''
Indeed they did, but the Red Wings found a way to come away with two points. In the long run, Babcock believes Detroit’s three-game skid will make it a better club.
“Anytime you lose a few in a row, I really believe it’s gut-check time,” Babcock said. “If it gets to four or five, sometimes that picks up speed. This was good to put a stop to it now. We’ve got to get back to playing with energy and playing smart.”

Canucks 4, Flames 1 | Video
Another division game, another win for Vancouver.
Markus Naslund and Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist each, and Roberto Luongo turned aside 29 shots as the Canucks won for the fifth time in six games with a victory over Calgary at GM Place.
''The boys beared down,'' Luongo said. ''Guys just picked up the pace again and it was a really good effort from our group, especially in our own zone.''
The Vancouver Canucks won for the fifth time in six contests with a 4-1 win over the Northwest Division rival Calgary Flames.
While Vancouver (10-8-1, 5-0-1 since Nov. 1) is firing on all cylinders, the Flames are slumping. Granted, they entered Sunday with back-to-back victories, but this loss was their sixth in eight games. Miikka Kiprusoff, who was between the pipes for Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers and has started every game for Calgary this season, made 17 saves in the loss.
With the teams tied 1-1 after the first period, Vancouver gained control in the middle frame thanks to a pair of goals on just four shots. After killing off two separate 5-on-3 man advantages that lasted 30 seconds, Willie Mitchell scored his first goal in 46 games at the 9:52 mark on a feed from Naslund. Exactly eight minutes later, Naslund gave Vancouver a 3-1 lead on a power play tally for his sixth goal of the season.
''Systematically, we're much more sound, it's night and day,'' said Mitchell, a stay-at-home defenseman who also helped kill three straight penalties. ''Passes are there, support is there and coverage is there. We were forced into that with all the injuries.''
''We're not going to see that every day,'' Luongo said of Mitchell’s tally. ''You appreciate what he does in your own zone, and when he gets a bonus like that it's nice to see.''
Brad Isbister ended a 33-game scoring drought on the Canucks’ first shot of the third period. The power forward capitalized on a turnover in the Flames’ zone, as he fired a shot past a surprised Kiprusoff to make it 4-1. The loss was Calgary’s sixth in 10 division games this season (4-5-1). Adrian Aucoin scored the lone goal for the Flames in the opening period.
''The word to use would be inconsistency,'' Flames coach Mike Keenan said. ''We have a good power-play night and a bad penalty-killing night and we flip flop, or great goaltending and then not the best.''
Material from wire services was used in this report.
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