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Wings top Wild 4-3 in eight-round shootout

by John Kreiser and Brian Hunter
The Detroit Red Wings saw a two-goal lead disappear in 60 seconds late in the third period. Thanks to Drew Miller, the win they had in their grasp didn't vanish.

Miller scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Wings a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday. Miller beat Niklas Backstrom with a wrist shot for the first shootout goal of his career.

"You've got to get your first one sometime, and it feels pretty good," Miller said.

Jimmy Howard stopped six of eight attempts in the shootout, including Eric Belanger's wrist shot in the first half of the eighth round before Miller's game-winner.

The Wings hadn't expected to have to go to a shootout after third-period goals by Patrick Eaves and Miller gave them a 3-1 lead with 10:57 remaining. But the Wild, who've been resilient in the third period at home in the last couple of weeks, tied the game on goals by Havlat at 13:48 and Belanger a minute later. Havlat's goal survived a video review, and Belanger tied it when he controlled a bouncing puck in the slot and whipped a shot past a surprised Howard.

But it wasn't enough to keep the Wild from losing its fourth in a row. They've struggled out of the gate in each of the losses, and coach Todd Richards said he's working to fix the problem.

"I wish I had the answer because if I had the answer it would be corrected," he said. "We're trying different things but we haven't found the right way to go about it yet."

Hurricanes 5, Thrashers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Every change of captaincy should work out as well as Carolina's. Eric Staal celebrated his first game wearing the "C" with three goals as the 'Canes pummeled the Thrashers in Atlanta.

"It was kind of neat to start off this way," Staal said.

The Hurricanes were last in the overall standings and had lost three in a row when Staal replaced Rod Brind'Amour as captain on Wednesday.

"It's a challenge," Staal said of his new role. "We've had great leadership here for a long time. I'm excited for the opportunity to learn from a great captain who won us a Stanley Cup."

Brind'Amour, the Hurricanes' longtime captain, wore the "C" for Carolina's Cup-wining team in 2006.

Goals by Staal at 3:31 and Sergei Samsonov at 6:32 gave Carolina a quick 2-0 lead. Jussi Jokinen and Staal had power-play goals in the first 2:19 of the second period to give Cam Ward plenty of support. Ward made 32 saves for his 130th career win, tying the franchise record held by Arturs Irbe.

"Our goaltender was good, our special teams were real good and that's the difference in the game," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "Good leadership and good goaltending tonight."

Rich Peverley and Colby Armstrong scored for the Thrashers before Staal hit the empty net with 45 seconds left to complete his hat trick.

Atlanta failed on four power-play chances in the third period and was 0-for-6 with the extra man, while Carolina went 3-for-4.

"On special teams, I don't want to use the word horrific, but that's the first thing that comes to my mind," Thrashers coach John Anderson said. "Our power play isn't generating a lot."

Senators 3, Blues 2 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Peter Regin and the Senators both stayed hot. Regin scored Ottawa's first goal and set up the other two as the Senators edged St. Louis for their fifth win in a row.

Regin's pass set up Chris Phillips' tie-breaking wrist shot with 9:31 left in regulation. It was the Senators' third power-play goal of the night. He now has five points in two games for the surging Sens.

"Everybody wants to score, obviously, especially when you help the team win," he said. "It's way more fun when you're losing five games in a row rather than losing five in a row."

Brian Elliott stopped 27 saves for his third victory in four days. Milan Michalek also scored a power-play goal for Ottawa in his first game back after missing seven with a concussion.

It's almost hard to believe that a week ago, the Senators entered their game in New York riding a five-game losing streak.
"We were on the other end of a bad streak there so it's nice to turn it around, but to turn it around with consistency," Phillips said. "We have the right consistency right now, and we just want to keep that going."

Goals by Regin and Michalek put Ottawa ahead 2-0 midway through the second period. Eric Brewer scored with 67 seconds left in the period, and Brad Boyes tied it 30 seconds into the third.

In the end, though, the Blues lost their fifth consecutive visit to Scotiabank Place.

"It's definitely frustrating," said goaltender Chris Mason, who made 27 saves. "As a team I don't think we played well in the first two periods. Penalty kills is usually one of our strong suits, and to give up three goals -- you can't do that and expect to win."

Blue Jackets 3, Bruins 2 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

R.J. Umberger's power-play goal with 1:16 remaining gave Columbus a rare road victory.

Umberger tipped in Anton Strahlman's shot 15 seconds after his stick appeared to clip teammate Derick Brassard in the face -- only to have referee Dean Morton call a double minor for high-sticking on Boston's Milan Lucic.

"I'm not going to comment too much on that, that's called human error," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team lost its third straight and sixth in the last seven. "It's unfortunate and it's what it is. It's human error."

Lucic was emphatic that his stick wasn't the one that clipped Brassard.

"I definitely didn't feel like my stick got up," Lucic said. "I felt like it was below my waist the whole time.

"We can complain about it all we want but [Morton] went by what he felt like he saw on the ice and he went with his decision," he said.

The Bruins took a 2-1 lead on Patrice Bergeron's second-period goal, but couldn't hold it. Antoine Vermette stuffed home the tying goal 7:16 into the third before Umberger's goal gave the Jackets only their third win in their last 19 road games.

Among the few Jackets backers at TD Garden were the players' fathers, who made the trip with their sons.

"Our dads liked it too," Vermette said.

Flyers 2, Rangers 0 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Ray Emery stopped all 24 shots he faced and the Flyers got goals from James van Riemsdyk and Mike Richards to beat the Rangers.

Van Riemsdyk banged his own rebound past Henrik Lundqvist late in the first period, and Richards scored on the power play with 2.5 seconds left in the second.

For's complete story, click here

Islanders 2, Panthers 1 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Back in the day, when the Islanders were in their dynasty years, the Nassau Coliseum was known colloquially as "Fort Neverlose." The Islanders are starting to bring back a few echoes of those days, at least at home -- they stretched their Coliseum winning streak to six games thanks to shootout goals by Rob Schremp and Matt Moulson.

The two shootout goals ended a goaltending duel between Florida's Tomas Vokoun and the Isles' Dwayne Roloson -- and was a sharp change from the Panthers' 7-1 win in their last trip to Long Island on Dec. 14.

"I think we've worked on a lot of things defensively and on our forecheck, and I think we have a lot more confidence and character than we did at that time of the season," Moulson said. "As of a late, we've had a game plan and we've stuck to that, and that's what's kind of made us successful."

The Islanders, last in the overall standings in 2008-09, kept their hold on eighth place in the East with 54 points. They're even with seventh-place Boston, but the Bruins have played fewer games. Florida is among three teams with 51 points.

"Every point is huge, especially against these teams," Moulson said. "The teams that have been surrounding us in the playoff hunt, we haven't gotten as many points as we've wanted against them. Montreal and Florida beat us twice. It's even bigger when you can pick up points on teams around you."

After a lackluster first period, Florida's Nathan Horton and the Isles' Blake Comeau exchanged second-period goals. Both teams had chances after that, but the rest of the night belonged to the goalies -- Vokoun stopped 35 shots and Roloson made 33 saves.

"It was a great hockey game," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "It's tough not to win, but it's better than losing. You got two teams that you could tell everyone was looking at the standings. The level of play is different in the second half."

Lightning 3, Maple Leafs 2 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Toronto paid a big price for some sloppiness in the final minute of overtime, as a penalty for having too many men on the ice with 43.1 seconds left turned into Martin St. Louis' power-play goal with 9.8 seconds left in OT.

"We should have been more disciplined," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said after St. Louis' shot from the top of the left circle won the game. "We weren't, and we lose because of it."

The Leafs led twice on power-play goals by Ian White 7:05 into the game and Matt Stajan at 9:08 of the second period. But the Bolts tied the game each time -- Steven Stamkos scored at 11:46 of the opening period and assisted on Ryan Malone's power-play goal at 16:11 of the second.

"We responded," said Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet, whose team was coming off an 8-2 loss Tuesday to the Rangers in New York. "Marty, a great goal for us. Confidence-wise for our team, we definitely needed it."

The Leafs fell to 1-10 in games decided after regulation and 0-8 in overtime.

"It's ridiculous, actually. It's just one after the other," White said.

Coyotes 4, Predators 2 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Scottie Upshall cost the Predators two points with a third-period natural hat trick -- and did nearly as much damage to his teammate during his goal celebrations.

Upshall scored all three goals in the third period as the Coyotes overcame a 2-1 deficit after 40 minutes, then thoroughly enjoyed himself celebrating.

"The guys are talking about keeping me in a cage," said Upshall, who on consecutive goals launched himself face-first into the glass and tackled a teammate. "I was just so excited. They said they need to give me some space so let's hope they have to give me a lot more space the rest of the year."

The Predators grabbed a 2-1 lead in goals 40 seconds apart by Patric Hornqvist and Martin Erat late in the second period.

But Upshall tied the game 4:02 into the third, sweeping the puck past Dan Ellis from the middle of the left circle. He put the Coyotes ahead by knocking in his own rebound at 13:22 and completed his first NHL hat trick 65 seconds later by beating Ellis on a breakaway after a perfect pass from Martin Hanzal.

Ilya Bryzgalov made 41 saves as Coyotes coach Dave Tippett earned his 300th NHL victory.

"I'm getting old," Tippett said with a laugh. "If you love what you do the time flies by. I like the wins more than the losses so if it's 300 wins that's 300 good nights I've had."

Nashville's second consecutive loss dropped the Predators behind Phoenix and Vancouver into sixth place in the Western Conference.

"Today was very important and we fell short," Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We've lost two in a row and we have to get back to winning."

Canucks 4, Stars 3 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Christian Ehrhoff and Kyle Wellwood scored third-period goals to give Roberto Luongo the win over Alex Auld in a battle of goaltenders once swapped in the same deal.

Ehrhoff gave Vancouver a 3-2 lead 5:05 into the third period by cutting through the Dallas defense and lifting a shot over Auld's blocker from in tight after nifty passing by Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin set up the play. Wellwood added insurance by scoring on a partial breakaway with 3:29 remaining.

"They made a couple great plays there and I ended up all alone," Ehrhoff said of the Sedins.

Mason Raymond and Alexandre Burrows also scored for the Canucks and Luongo made 20 saves while starting for the 21st consecutive game.

"I thought our best period was the third," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.

Loui Eriksson, Toby Petersen and Trevor Daley had the goals for the Stars, with Daley making it a one-goal game with 2.8 seconds remaining. Auld, who was deal to Florida in 2006 as part of a deal that brought Luongo to Vancouver, finished with 19 saves in his third straight start.

"That's been symptomatic of a lot of the games we've not performed well in," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. "You can look at probably 40, 45 minutes of the game where we were pleased, but when the game got on the line their level elevated and they played about 15 minutes and won."

After Raymond opened the scoring for the Canucks with 5:44 left in the first period, the Stars scored the next two goals to take their only lead of the night. Eriksson tied the game with 3:22 left in the first and Petersen had a shorthanded tally 9:17 into the second, beating Luongo on a 35-foot slap shot after Alex Edler hit the post at the other end.

Burrows answered back with a shorthanded goal of his own with a minute remaining in the second. After having a goal disallowed just moments earlier because he was ruled to have used a distinct kicking motion to direct the puck into the net, Burrows capitalized on Auld's turnover while trying to making a pass and scored into an empty net.

"He kind of panicked for a second," Burrows said. "Obviously, you don't really think goalies are going to turn the puck over there but I was lucky enough to get a stick on it."

"I gave him the puck and he had an empty net, and it seemed to be a big turning point," Auld said. "It's tough to give up a goal like that and lose by one."

Sharks 3, Ducks 1 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

San Jose captain Rob Blake and fellow blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic helped compensate for the absence of offensive defenseman Dan Boyle by chipping in with goals of their own.

Vlasic and Blake scored in the second period to lead the Sharks to a home win against Anaheim. Patrick Marleau added his League-leading 35th of the season into an empty net with six seconds remaining.

"Without (Boyle) in the lineup we have to step up offensively," Vlasic said. "I thought the d-men did a great job stepping up. The new pairings did very well, all six of us. We did a great job of moving the puck, joining the rush and creating some offense."

Vlasic scored on a power play 2:47 into the second period, his first goal since Nov. 1. Blake finished off a three-way passing play with Marleau and Joe Thornton to make it 2-0 with 3:26 left in the period.

"Pretty amazing," Blake said of the pass he got from Thornton. "Honestly I didn't see it until it hit my stick. They always talk about go to the net with your stick down. When you have players as good as that or as crisp as finding things, that will happen."

Matt Beleskey scored 1:15 into the third for the Ducks, but they got nothing else against Evgeni Nabokov and Marleau sealed the victory in the final seconds.

"We were much closer in the game and the difference was that we made a mistake and they score a power play goal off a faceoff," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said, referring to the Vlasic goal. "We have all but eight seconds of it killed and we reacted poorly on the one draw by them."

Meanwhile, the Ducks went 0-for-5 on their power play. Nabokov finished with 26 saves and has led the Sharks to five victories this season over the team that eliminated them from the playoffs in the first round last spring.

"He's seeing the puck and more than anything not giving up a lot of second chances," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "He's able to smother any rebounds and our defenseman are doing a pretty good job clearing the net in front of him."

Kings 4, Sabres 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Every point is valuable to a Los Angeles squad seeking its first playoff berth in eight years, and thanks to the tandem of Ryan Smyth and Dustin Brown, the Kings secured two of them against one of the Eastern Conference's powerhouses.

Smyth scored the game-tying goal 9:03 into the third period, a goal that needed video review to uphold, and Brown had the deciding goal in the shootout as the Kings took over seventh in the West, one point ahead of Detroit and Calgary. They finished a seven-game homestand with a 3-4-0 record and start a five-game trip in Detroit on Saturday.

Los Angeles has won its last six shootouts, though all that success hasn't done much to change Terry Murray's opinion of the event.

"I hate the shootout, personally," he said. "I had nothing to do with it. I'm standing at the back of the bench and I've got my arms crossed and I'm totally out of it. That's the one thing I hate about it. But the fans love it. Not one fan left. Everyone was standing up, and we got two points."

Jonathan Quick celebrated his 24th birthday with a 26-save performance, then stopped two of three attempts by the Sabres in the penalty-shot tiebreaker. Anze Kopitar and Drew Stafford traded goals in the first round, but Quick shut the door after Stafford got one past him and Brown netted the winner in the third round against Ryan Miller.

"He's very eager to compete and he doesn't quit," Smyth said. "He works so hard in practice, and he gets rewarded in the game. He didn't face a lot of shots, but you have to give credit to the defensemen back there for standing solid and helping them out. He's played really well this year and he's earned a spot on the Olympic team."

Buffalo, which had gone 11 games without a regulation loss before falling 4-3 in Anaheim on Tuesday, took a 3-2 lead at 1:07 of the third when defenseman Craig Rivet snapped a 55-game goal drought. But Smyth evened things when the puck deflected off his skate and past Miller -- reviews upheld the on-ice ruling that there was no intentional kicking motion on the play.

Brad Richardson and Sean O'Donnell of the Kings sandwiched goals around scores from Clarke MacArthur and Thomas Vanek of the Sabres.

"That was a battle on both ends," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought both teams put a lot of work into it. They play hard in their end, and they're a physical team. They've got some big bodies, so we knew we were in for a battle."

Richardson had the lone goal of the first period with 7:32 left, but it took just 22 seconds for MacArthur to tie the score in the second when his intended cross-ice pass to Mike Grier went off the stick of O'Donnell and changed directions, getting past Quick before he could react.

Vanek then struck on a Buffalo power play at 9:47 for a 2-1 lead, but O'Donnell redeemed himself with 55 seconds left in the period. He wound up for a shot from the left point that got past Miller with Michal Handzus setting up a screen.

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