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Rangers 4, Flyers 2
Rick Nash is showing exactly what the Rangers hoped they were getting when they pried him away from Columbus.
New York is riding high on a three-game winning streak, but instead of being able to fully celebrate their good fortune and the improved play of their newest star, the Rangers are holding their breath as they wait for medical news regarding key defenseman Marc Staal.
Nash broke a third-period tie and added an insurance goal in the Rangers’ victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Any feelings of euphoria were greatly lessened because of concern regarding Staal, who appeared to be struck in the right eye by a deflected puck 5:45 into the third.
“I just looked at it. It’s scary,” said subdued Rangers coach John Tortorella, who hadn’t gotten an update on Staal’s condition.
Madison Square Garden was rocking with delight following Nash’s goals that were scored about nine minutes apart and pushed the Rangers ahead of the Flyers in the standings, despite New York (11-8-2) playing three fewer games.
Nash, who played his first nine NHL seasons in relative obscurity in Columbus, has four goals in three games since returning from an injury that forced him to miss four.
All seven of his goals this season have been scored in the third period.
“That’s my job. That’s what I’m trying to do,” he said. “It’s fun for me to play in front of a sold-out building in a hockey city that truly loves the Rangers.”
Nash fired a shot that sneaked under the right arm of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov 2:50 into the third to give New York its second lead. He doubled the advantage to 4-2 with 8:18 left, fighting off a hook on his hands by defenseman Kimmo Timonen and making a shift from backhand to forehand to score.
It is the second time this season the Rangers have won three straight. They are eighth in the East, one point ahead of Philadelphia and one point behind seventh-place New Jersey.
“I just started smiling after he scored the second goal,” winning goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “It just feels so good to have a player like that on the team that can be the difference every night.”
Ryan Callahan scored two first-period goals and assisted on Nash’s second, and Lundqvist made 23 saves for the Rangers, who played without Brad Richards. The star center sat out two nights after he was checked from behind into the boards by Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta.
Staal went down when a shot by Timonen from the blue line clipped the stick of Flyers forward Jake Voracek and caromed up into his eye, causing a cut. Staal, who wasn’t wearing a visor, squirmed on the ice and held his face before skating off.
“You can feel that it took the life out of the bench a little bit and the whole crowd,” Callahan said. “It’s a scary moment.”
Wayne Simmonds and Voracek both scored power-play goals in the first period for Philadelphia, and Bryzgalov stopped 16 shots.
The Flyers (11-12-1) got to NHL .500 for the first time this season on Saturday, but are back below again with games against Pittsburgh and Boston looming this week.
Capital 4, Bruins 3 (OT)
Alex Ovechkin had a pair of hat tricks, and it would be fine with him if he never repeated either one. He was called for three penalties, and he crashed the net off of its moorings three times in the third period.
Boston, meanwhile, had a hat trick of goals in the first period — and couldn’t hold the three-goal lead.
As it turned out, the magic came in threes for Eric Fehr, who had Ovechkin-like moments with a pair of assists and a persevering, falling-to-the-ice goal 37 seconds into overtime to give Washington a win.
“We needed this,” said Wojtek Wolski, who tied the game in the third period. “There have been so many times in the beginning of the season where we gave up leads and kind of broke down as a team.”
Mike Ribeiro also scored, Tomas Kundratek got his first NHL goal, Steve Olesky earned his first NHL assist, and Braden Holtby made 30 saves in his 10th consecutive start for Washington. It was the teams’ first meeting since the Bruins were eliminated in seven one-goal games by the Capitals in the first round of the last year’s playoffs, when Boston was defending its 2011 Stanley Cup title.
These days, the Capitals are fighting to get away from the lower echelons of the standings after a horrible start to the lockout-shortened season, while the Bruins are cruising near the top — or at least they had been before a pair of third-period meltdowns, having blown a lead against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday before the collapse against the Capitals.
“We were up by three goals,” Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask said, “and were asleep in the second (period) and gave up a couple of unnecessary goals.”
While the young players had their moments in the Capitals comeback, Fehr sealed the deal with only the second three-point game of his career. The first came nearly five years ago, also against the Bruins.
Pinched by defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg, Fehr was falling forward as he got off the shot that hit the upper right post and went into the net early in the extra period, giving Washington its seventh win in 10 games.
“I kind of blacked out for a bit there,” Fehr said. “But saw the puck on my stick close to the net, saw (Rask) was leaning my way, so just tried to chip it over.”
Fehr also got the assist on the tying goal with 6:05 remaining in regulation, when he worked his way through a crowd into the offensive zone and — with four Bruins around him — managed to get the puck ahead to Wolski for the backhanded stroke past Rask.
Ovechkin also had an eventful night, with plays good and bad. Two of his penalties led to Bruins goals, but he set up a Capitals goal and was active on the defensive end throughout. One of his trifecta of third-period net-crashes drew a hooking penalty, when he also reached for his lower back after hitting the ice.
He stayed in the game, but did he feel OK physically once it was over?
“Yeah. Kind of,” he said. “Kind of all right.”
Blackhawks 5, Wild 3
Chicago set a franchise record with its 10th consecutive victory and extended its points streak to 29 games.
Bryan Bickell scored twice in the first period and Patrick Kane added a big goal in the third as Chicago (20-0-3) remained the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss. It also snapped a tie with the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens for the second-longest points streak in league history.
Ryan Suter scored his first goal with Minnesota, sending a power-play slap shot past a screened Corey Crawford in the third period. Kyle Brodziak then poked his own rebound to get the Wild within one at 10:32. But Kane beat Darcy Kuemper just 61 seconds later.
Brandon Saad had a goal and two assists for the Blackhawks, who host Colorado tonight.
Lightning 5, Devils 2
Nate Thompson scored twice and Martin St. Louis and rookie Alexander Killorn each had a goal and an assist as Tampa Bay snapped a five-game losing streak with a victory over struggling New Jersey.
Cory Conacher and Vincent Lecavalier each had two assists as the Lightning won for only the second time in eight games and extended the Devils’ winless streak to six games (0-5-1).
Anders Lindback had 25 saves for the Lightning, surrendering late goals to Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias.
New Jersey’s slide has taken place with Johan Hedberg in goal for the injured Martin Brodeur (back). The crowd at the Prudential Center cheered wildly after coach Peter DeBoer sent Keith Kinkaid out for his first NHL action after Tampa Bay opened a 3-0 lead.
The only good thing the Devils did was end Steven Stamkos’ 10-game point streak. He had scored goals in eight of his last nine games, and only a pad save by Kinkaid on a breakaway early in the third period prevented the streak from continuing.
Thompson put the Lightning ahead for good with 2:56 left in the first period. Hedberg played the puck from behind his own net and Lightning rookie Ondrej Palat got the puck in the corner, found Conacher in the left circle. The rookie found Thompson alone in from for a shot that Hedberg never had a chance to stop.
Tampa Bay put the game away in the second period on the goals by St. Louis and Killorn.
Islanders 6, Canadiens 3
Radek Martinek scored the tiebreaking goal eight minutes into the third period and New York handed Montreal its first regulation loss in nearly a month.
Martinek’s shot from the left point on a pass from Kyle Okposo eluded goaltender Carey Price at 7:56. It was the first goal of the season for Martinek, who hadn’t scored since Oct. 12, 2011, while with Columbus. John Tavares scored his team-leading 14th goal with 1:07 left before Colin McDonald closed the scoring with an empty-netter.
Brian Gionta’s power-play goal at 6:07 of the third — the 20,000th goal for the Canadiens since the NHL was formed in 1917 — tied the game at 3.
Hurricanes 4, Sabres 3
Alexander Semin had a goal and two assists, linemate Eric Staal added three assists and Carolina beat Buffalo.
Jiri Tlusty, Joe Corvo and Jussi Jokinen also scored for Carolina, which was playing for the first time since goalie Cam Ward went on injured reserve following a torn MCL that will require a recovery of 6-to-8 weeks. The Hurricanes won their fourth straight and completed a three-game season sweep of the Sabres.
Staal picked up his 600th NHL point with the first of his two assists on the night on Tlusty’s goal in the first period. Justin Peters, recalled from Charlotte of the AHL, had 37 saves in his first start of the season for the Hurricanes.
Ryan Miller had 24 saves for Buffalo, which got two goals from Cody Hodgson and one from T.J. Brennan.
Blue Jackets 4, Oilers 3 (SO)
Sergei Bobrovsky, replacing an ineffective Steve Mason, made two spectacular short-handed saves in overtime and stopped both shots he faced in the shootout to lift Columbus over Edmonton.
Vinny Prospal had a goal and an assist, and Derek MacKenzie and Jack Johnson also scored in regulation. Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu scored in the shootout for Columbus, which extended its points streak to four games and is the last team to win back-to-games in the NHL this season.
Jeff Petry, Ryan Whitney and Magnus Paajarvi tallied for Edmonton, who couldn’t hold a 3-2 lead and fell to 1-3-1 on season-high nine-game, 17-day road trip in which they’ve been outshot 111-67.
Panthers 4, Jets 1
Tomas Kopecky, Shawn Matthias and Mike Santorelli scored for Florida and Jonathan Huberdeau converted a penalty shot in the Panthers’ victory over Winnipeg.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 30 shots for his first win of the season for Florida, which won at home for just the fourth time this season. The Panthers have been plagued by injuries this season — including Stephen Weiss’ season-ending wrist injury.
Kyle Wellwood scored for Winnipeg and Ondrej Pavelec finished with 22 saves while falling to 8-11-1 this season.
Red Wings 2, Avalanche 1
Niklas Kronwall scored in the second period thanks to a fluky bounce, and Detroit held on to beat Colorado.
Detroit opened the scoring with 13:00 to go in the second on a breakaway goal by Johan Franzen, and Kronwall added to the lead when his shot from the point went wide, bounced back off the boards and went in off the right skate of goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Red Wings needed that second goal, because Colorado’s Paul Stastny spoiled Jimmy Howard’s bid for a shutout when he scored with 1:30 to play in the third.
Detroit has gone four straight games without allowing a goal in the first or second period.
Sharks 3, Canucks 2 (SO)
Scott Gomez and Adam Burish ended long goal droughts and Joe Pavelski scored the shootout winner as San Jose defeated Vancouver.
Brad Stuart added two assists and Antti Niemi made 36 saves for San Jose, which won its second straight game after a stretch in which it went 2-6-4. Gomez’s goal was his first of the season and just his 10th in his last 133 NHL games, while Burish scored his first goal in 45 games.
Henrik Sedin and Jannik Hansen scored for Vancouver, which dropped to 3-5-2 in its past 10 games after starting the season 8-2-2.
Kings 6, Blues 4
Jeff Carter scored the tiebreaking goal with 13:51 to play, and Los Angeles roared back from a three-goal deficit for its seventh win in eight games.
Jake Muzzin tied it early in the third period with his second goal for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who have won six straight home games while surging up the Western Conference standings after a slow start to the season. Los Angeles has won nine of 11 overall.
Mike Richards and Muzzin scored 59 seconds apart to tie it for the Kings, who trailed 4-1 midway through the second period.
Alex Pietrangelo, David Perron and Chris Stewart each had a goal and an assist for the Blues, who have lost five of seven.