Predators, Canucks Keep Divisional Leads


Wednesday, March 7th 2007, 6:20 am
By: News On 6


The Vancouver Canucks stayed in first place with a convincing win. The Nashville Predators held onto their lofty spot with the slimmest of losses.

All in a night's work in the Western Conference.

The Canucks maintained a two-point lead over Calgary in the tight Northwest Division by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 Tuesday night. The Flames had pulled into a tie hours earlier with a 4-2 win at St. Louis, but Vancouver moved back in front with its ninth win in 11 games (9-1-1).

The Predators were two points in front of Detroit in both the Central Division and Western Conference races and got out of Hockeytown with a one-point edge despite a 4-3 road loss in a shootout.

In other NHL games, it was: Atlanta 4, Florida 2; Colorado 2, Boston 0; Philadelphia 5, New Jersey 4 in overtime; Pittsburgh 5, Ottawa 4 in a shootout; Toronto 3, Washington 0; San Jose 3, Minnesota 0; Chicago 3, Los Angeles 0; and Vancouver 5, Tampa Bay 1.

Greg Zanon tied it at 3 with 8:18 left in regulation to ensure the Predators would still be alone in front at night's end.

``It was a good point,'' Predators forward J.P. Dumont said. ``We've been short-handed the whole road trip, but guys have showed a lot of character.

``I'm real happy with our team right now.''

Nashville was missing Peter Forsberg, Scott Hartnell and Steve Sullivan. Forsberg sat out a second straight game due to an upper body injury. The Predators hope to get him back quickly as they will face the Red Wings twice next week and three times overall before the regular season ends.

``We've had a lot of close games like this lately,'' goalie Tomas Vokoun said of the Predators, who have gone to overtime six times in seven games. ``It's been kind of like the playoffs _ a lot of closer scores as the season goes on.''

Johan Franzen scored on Detroit's fourth shootout shot before Chris Osgood stopped Martin Erat to win in.

After Pavel Datsyuk put Detroit ahead 1-0, Erat tied it late in the first period and Jason Arnott gave the Predators a 2-1 lead early in the second. Robert Lang tied the game at 12:30 of the second.

Osgood stopped 24 shots in regulation and overtime and Vokoun made 32 saves for the Predators, 5-0-3 in their last eight games.

``This is the first time in a long time I thought we looked like a team that wasn't sure we were just going to win,'' said coach Mike Babcock, who earned his 100th win with the Red Wings. ``Normally when we're ahead, it's over with. Tonight when we were ahead, I thought we got on our heels a little bit.''

The Canucks got Daniel Sedin's 30th goal 21 seconds into the third period and two from tough guy Jeff Cowan to beat the Lightning.

Vincent Lecavalier scored his NHL-leading 43rd goal of the season but Tampa Bay was held to a season-low 17 shots and fell two points behind Southeast-leading Atlanta.

Flyers 5, Devils 4, OT

Simon Gagne scored 1:47 into overtime, leading the host Flyers past New Jersey.

Scottie Upshall, Geoff Sanderson, Sami Kapanen and Mike Richards also scored as the Flyers beat the Devils for the first time in six tries this season.

Martin Biron, making his first start at home since Philadelphia got him from Buffalo at the trade deadline, had 37 saves.

Brad Lukowich, Zach Parise, Patrik Elias and Sergei Brylin scored for the Atlantic Division-leading Devils, who lost their third straight.

Avalanche 2, Bruins 0

At Boston, Peter Budaj stopped 21 shots and Brett Clark broke a scoreless deadlock in the third period to lift Colorado to its fourth straight win.

Milan Hejduk scored an empty-net goal and added an assist for the Avalanche, 3-0 on a season-high, five-game road trip.

Tim Thomas stopped 28 shots for the Bruins, whose two-game winning streak ended.

Maple Leafs 3, Capitals 0

At Toronto, Andrew Raycroft made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season and Darcy Tucker and Yanic Perreault each scored their 20th goals for the Maple Leafs.

Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored for the Maple Leafs, who moved into an eighth-place with Carolina in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Thrashers 4, Panthers 2

At Atlanta, Keith Tkachuk scored his first two goals with the Thrashers, lifting them to their fourth straight win.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 35th goal and Marian Hossa added his 39th for the Thrashers, 6-0 against the Panthers this season.

Penguins 5, Senators 4, SO

Sidney Crosby scored his third shootout goal in four games and Pittsburgh overcame a three-goal deficit at Ottawa.

Jordan Staal scored his NHL-leading seventh short-handed goal before he assisted on Ryan Malone's tying tally as Pittsburgh scored three times within 2:48 midway through the third.

Crosby was held without a point for the fourth time in five games, matching the worst slump of his career.

Dany Heatley, Mike Fisher, Christoph Schubert and Chris Kelly scored for Ottawa.

Flames 4, Blues 2

At St. Louis, Wayne Primeau scored the go-ahead goal on a short-handed breakaway in the third period, capping Calgary's rally from a two-goal deficit.

Jarome Iginla assisted on the Flames' last three goals, two scored by Craig Conroy, to help the Flames win their fifth in a row.

Petr Cajanek and Radek Dvorak scored on two of the Blues' first four shots, but Miikka Kiprusoff stopped the last 15. St. Louis had won four in a row at home.

Sharks 3, Wild 0

At St. Paul, Minn., Evgeni Nabokov posted his second straight shutout and Milan Michalek had a goal and an assist for the Sharks.

Manny Fernandez replaced Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom to begin the third period. Fernandez had missed the previous 14 games with a sprained left knee. Backstrom is 9-3-2 as his replacement.

San Jose scored three times in a span of 6 minutes in the second period.

Blackhawks 3, Kings 0

At Chicago, Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 26 shots to earn his first shutout with the Blackhawks and Patrick Sharp scored two goals.

Khabibulin posted his first regular-season shutout since March 1, 2004, while with Tampa Bay. He played his 99th game with Chicago and recorded his 36th NHL shutout.

Rene Bourque also scored for Chicago, which won its second straight after a 1-6-2 stretch. Brent Seabrook and Jeff Hamilton each had two assists.