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TIME: 7:00 PM EDT

In their first two games, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been wildly inconsistent.

Facing another high-powered offense, Pittsbugh plays its first road game of the season at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Thursday.

The Penguins (1-1-0) opened their season with an impressive shutout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers before being blanked 2-0 Saturday by the Detroit Red Wings. Pittsburgh has yet to convert on eight power-play chances but has successfully killed off all 12 short-handed situations.

Despite the start, the Penguins seem to be a more cohesive unit with first-year general manager Ray Shero opting to rebuild with youth after predecessor Craig Patrick assembled a veteran-laden roster last season. Newcomers like Nils Ekman, Dominic Moore, Jarkko Ruutu and defenseman Mark Eaton have provided chemistry than high-profile acquisitions John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Ziggy Palffy and Sergei Gonchar from last season.

"I think we've developed a chemistry," said Moore, a former Ranger. "We have a style where we try to make plays at both ends of the ice."

The quartet have combined for four points and a plus-3 rating, but it's the fact they are playing within themselves have the Penguins on the right track so far this season.

"We all know why we're out there," Penguins star center Sidney Crosby said. "We have to play within our roles. That's how you win hockey games. That's how you become a team."

Crosby is expected to play despite a bruised hand, and Ekman also will play despite suffering a strained hamstring in practice Monday.

The Rangers (2-1-0) were denied their first 3-0 start in 17 years with Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Flyers. Brendan Shanahan had a goal and assist for New York, continuing his fast start at home, where he has two goals and an assist in two games this season

He also has 10 goals and 15 assists in 21 lifetime games at MSG..

New York came undone in a 5:26 span of the second period in which it allowed three goals after being fortunate to salvage a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes despite taking just two shots on goal. The lackluster play annoyed Rangers coach Tom Renney, who hopes the team will return to the style it played while winning its first two games.

"I'm not happy one bit," Renney said. "There's nothing good about tonight's game at all in any way shape or form. There's no question whether it was with goals or with territorial play, puck possession.

"It was a matter of us giving them the puck back and not even reaching a battle level that was close to Philly. We lacked the commitment with those things."

The Rangers were 5-2-1 against the Penguins last season, outscoring them 30-18. Jaromir Jagr had seven goals and 11 points in those games and recorded a hat trick in a 6-1 win Nov. 12.

Crosby had five goals and five assists, and saved his best performance for the most recent game between the teams, a 5-3 win April 13 in which he had a goal and three assists.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Previews for October 12, 2006

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TIME: 7:30 PM EDT

Backup goaltender Ray Emery makes his first start of the season for the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night when they host the Calgary Flames.

Emery will replace a struggling Martin Gerber, who has lost his last two starts for Ottawa (1-2-0). Gerber was pulled last Thursday after allowing five goals on 24 shots in a 6-0 loss to Toronto in the Senators' home opener and gave up four more goals on 24 shots two days later in a 4-3 loss to Buffalo.

With four days off before Thursday's game, coach Bryan Murray worked his team out for more than two hours Tuesday and Wednesday in an attempt to sort out the problems.

He absolved Gerber of some blame for last Saturday's loss, blaming his team's inability to maintain control of the puck.

"All four goals were scored off turnovers," Murray said. "Sometimes, like it or not, you just have to put the puck behind their defenders and just try to retrieve it. You have to understand the score, and what time of the game it is."
Emery is not the only change expected. Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson will likely be together on the top line for the first time this season.

"I don't think it's any time to panic," Spezza said. "We know we have to be a better team, especially to start off games."

One reason for that change is the team's anemic performance on the power play. Ottawa is just 1-for-19 on the year with the man advantage - and 0-for-13 at home.

"(On the power play) we're not moving and we're not moving the puck," Murray said. "We get locked in one corner and we try passes that don't have to be tried. We have some ability on the blue line, who can pass and shoot. The puck doesn't go back enough."

Heatley has yet to score this season, although he has four assists. He led the Senators with a career-high 50 goals a season ago.

The Flames (1-2-0) are also considering changes to their top line. Left wing Kristian Huselius may replace newcomer Alex Tanguay after Huselius practiced with Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow earlier in the week.

Tanguay has a goal and assist in three games with Calgary, which has scored just four times and looking to get its offense untracked.

"I know, personally, I have to look at myself and realize what I have to do better to help the team," Tanguay said.

First-year Flames coach Jim Playfair said his team is still searching for its identity.

"We've been hoping it comes back," he said. "Now it is going to be non-negotiable. We have to go get it. We have to go find it. We have to re-establish our identity. We've seen how our team has to play as players, as coaches, as management and as fans. We have to increase the work ethic details in our game."

Calgary, which is beginning a four-game road trip against Eastern Conference foes, is 2-5-3 all-time at Ottawa. This is the Flames' first visit to the nation's capital since Feb. 21, 2004.
 

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Previews for October 12, 2006

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TIME: 7:30 PM EDT

A converted forward might be needed to help the Toronto Maple Leafs defense move forward.

With Pavel Kubina out four to six weeks with a knee injury, Wade Belak will likely revert to defense Thursday when the injury-riddled Maple Leafs head to New Jersey for the Devils' home opener.

Kubina suffered a strained knee ligament after a collision with Florida forward Todd Bertuzzi. Kubina had to be helped off the ice late in the third period of Toronto's 2-1 shootout victory Monday over the Panthers.

"It is frustrating, but there's nothing I can do," said Kubina, who signed a $20-million, four-year deal with Toronto (2-1-1) in the offseason.

The good news for Kubina and the Maple Leafs is that the injury will not require surgery, which would have kept him out of the lineup longer. But he's the most significant player on an ever-growing list of injured Maple Leafs defensemen, joining Andrew Wozniewski (shoulder), Carlo Colaiacovo (head), Staffan Kronwall (ankle) and Brenden Bell (foot).

Bell is closest to returning among those players. He skated alone with assistant coach Keith Acton before practice Wednesday and later joined the rest of the team for their skate, but he is not expected to return until Saturday's game against the Calgary Flames.

Belak, who started the season at forward, was back on defense in practice Wednesday with Jay Harrison as his partner and will likely be there for Thursday's game.

"I'm comfortable with Belak on the blue-line," said coach Paul Maurice, who doesn't want to rush any of his injured defenseman back.

Kyle Wellwood, who is tied for second in the NHL with six points, scored Toronto's lone goal in regulation Monday. Mats Sundin, who is three goals shy of 500 for his career, and Darcy Tucker scored in the shootout.

The Maple Leafs continued to struggle with the man advantage. They went 0-for-6 on the power play Monday and are 3-for-23 for the season.

New Jersey (1-1-0) will be trying to beat Toronto at home for the first time in nearly three years. The Devils' last home win against the Maple Leafs was on Jan. 3, 2003, when they came away with a 2-0 victory. New Jersey is 0-2-2 at home Toronto since then.

The Devils lost all four meetings against the Maple Leafs last season, and have lost five straight to them overall. New Jersey's last win in the series was a 1-0 victory Jan. 10, 2004, in Toronto.

The Devils are playing for the first time since a 3-1 loss Saturday to the Dallas Stars. They beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0 on Friday in their season opener.

"The positive is we split against two of the best teams in the league," New Jersey right wing Jamie Langenbrunner said. "The negative is we didn't play very well (in Dallas). We've got to be effective on the power play. For some reason we got sloppy and made some mistakes we normally don't make."

Rookie center Travis Zajac brought the Devils within a goal Saturday, but they could not complete the rally. With occasional bursts of brilliance, the 21-year-old Zajac scored his first NHL goal and came close to adding another with the game on the line in the third period.

"I think he's here because we feel he's going to be a good player," New Jersey coach Claude Julien said. "We've got to give him time to grow into his role."
 

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Previews for October 12, 2006

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TIME: 8:00 PM EDT

Playing at home may help St. Louis Blues break into the win column for the first time this season. Playing a team it's dominated for much of the last decade can't hurt either.

St. Louis again will try to give new owner Dave Checketts his first win Thursday when it meets the Boston Bruins at Scottrade Center.

The Blues (0-2-1) stayed winless this season after a 2-0 loss Sunday to Anaheim. The defeat was the St. Louis' eighth in a row overall dating back to last season and extended its franchise-record road skid to 12 games.

Against Boston, though, St. Louis has 10 wins and two ties in its last 13 matchups since December 1996. The Blues also have won five in a row from the Bruins (1-2-0) since a loss in January 2001.

Blues forward Keith Tkachuk, a Melrose, Mass. native, said he's ready to hit the home ice for the first time this season.

I can't wait to get home," he said after the loss to the Ducks. "There's nothing better than playing at home - especially coming off a difficult road trip like this. Our power play didn't do much, so that's very disappointing."

St. Louis converted just one of 16 power-play opportunities in its first three games this season. The Blues' five goals thus far are third-fewest in the Western Conference behind Edmonton and Calgary.

"Obviously, we didn't get the results we wanted. But it's a long season and hopefully it'll turn around soon," Tkachuk added.

The Blues finished last overall in the league in 2005-06, ending a run of 25 consecutive playoff appearances. After sale of the team was approved in June by the league, Checketts - the former head of Madison Square Garden and the NBA's New York Knicks - said he and new president John Davidson "will do what we need to do to bring a championship" to St. Louis.

The Blues have dropped six of their last eight home openers, including five one-goal losses.

Boston, meanwhile, has lost two of three to start the season, including a 4-1 loss Wednesday to Atlanta. The Bruins' P.J. Axelsson tied the score at 1 early in the second period, but goaltender Hannu Toivonen gave up goals to Scott Mellanby and Glen Metropolit 68 seconds apart late in the period.

Toivonen, who is splitting time in net with Tim Thomas, recorded Boston's only win this season after making 29 saves in a 3-2 win Saturday over Tampa Bay. Boston's 14 goals allowed are the most of any Northeast Division team.

"We are not a team yet," Bruins coach Dave Lewis said. "We have to grow together. We have to identify what's important to be successful."

Defenseman Zdeno Chara notched his fifth assist in three games in the loss.
 

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Previews for October 12, 2006

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TIME: 8:00 PM EDT

The Minnesota Wild will try to extend the best start in franchise history when they continue a season-opening five-game homestand on Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center against the Washington Capitals.

Minnesota (3-0-0) is facing Washington for the first time since a 2-1 victory on Nov 1, 2003, and has won all three home meetings against the Capitals (1-1-0).

The Wild continued their winning ways with a 2-1 shootout triumph over Vancouver on Tuesday. Petteri Nummelin - back in the NHL for the first time in six years - scored the game winner on a backhand past Roberto Luongo.

"I made the move to shoot the forehand and came back to the backhand," said Nummelin, who played 61 games with Columbus in 2000-01, and was one of several key moves to improve a team that finished 11th in the Western Conference last season despite having a record above .500.

Besides Nummelin, the Wild signed Marian Gaborik to a contract extension, traded for high-scoring right wing Pavol Demitra and signed forwards Mark Parrish and Branko Radivojevic and defensemen Keith Carney and Kim Johnsson.

On Wednesday, Minnesota gave Jacques Lemaire - the only head coach in the franchise's history - a multiyear contract extension

"It's a big change in the way I feel as a coach. I'm even more excited than I was the first year here," the 61-year-old Lemaire said. "I love to see them play. ... Their ability makes it a lot easier for me."

Gaborik, the franchise's all-time scoring leader, has two goals and two assists so far. Demitra, a three-time 30-goal scorer, has been quick to adapt to Lemaire's defensive style.

"He's a smart coach," said Demitra, who has a goal and four assists. "He knows what he's talking about. We can learn a lot from him. We have so much respect for what he's done in the past."

Minnesota's revamped offense will try to slow down Washington's high-scoring left wings, Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.

The two have scored six of the Capitals' seven goals this season, including a hat trick by Semin in a 5-2 victory over Carolina on Saturday.

Semin, who was sued by the Capitals after he went to play in Russia instead of the minor leagues during the lockout, had never scored more than once in 53 career games before his outburst.

"I scored three tonight - but I could have scored more," Semin said through a translator.

Ovechkin, the reigning NHL rookie of the year, bounced back from a poor effort in a season-opening loss 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers last Thursday with a career-high 15 shots and his first two goals of the season.

"First period, I played awful," Ovechkin said. "Terrible. Second period, I told myself: Shoot everything."

Forward Chris Clark and defenseman Brian Pothier are tied for the team lead with four assists each.
 

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Previews for October 12, 2006

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TIME: 8:30 PM EDT

The Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks have been scoring plenty of goals to start the season. The problem is they also are both giving up plenty of goals.

The Predators and Blackhawks play for the second time this season Thursday when the Central Division rivals meet at the United Center.

Nashville (0-2-0) has scored 11 goals, but has given up 14 in its two defeats. It's a franchise record for most goals allowed in consecutive games.

"We've got 11 goals in the two games and don't have a point to show for it. That's bothersome," coach Barry Trotz said.

Chicago (1-1-0) has scored 12 and surrendered 11 in its first two games. The victory for the Blackhawks was an 8-6 win at Nashville over the Predators in the season opener Oct. 5.

One reason for Nashville's woes is its atrocious penalty killing. The Predators have allowed seven power-play goals in 10 opportunities, including five to the Minnesota Wild in their 6-5 setback Saturday.

"We lost the special teams war again," Trotz said.

It's been a frustrating start for goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who has allowed 13 goals on 66 shots for a save percentage of .803.

"That was like an All-Star game," said Vokoun, who has allowed five or more goals in five of his last seven starts dating back to last season after doing so just twice in his first 55 games of the 2005-06 season.

"You can't win like that in this league. That should never happen. I don't know the answers. It's two horrible games."

Chicago (1-1-0) followed up its big victory over Nashville by blowing an early two-goal lead in a 5-4 loss Saturday to Columbus in its home opener. The Blackhawks may have better penalty killing units thus far in allowing only four power-play goals, but it has been offset by being forced to kill off 17 penalties in the first two games.

Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin had 19 saves in Saturday's loss, but coach Trent Yawney gave him a free pass and criticized the rest of the team following the loss.

"He's going to see guys in his crease in his sleep," Yawney said. "It's very difficult to play disciplined hockey without self-disciplined people. Try it. It doesn't work."

The Blackhawks will need better defensive play to try to slow down the Predators, who had five different goal scorers in last week's matchup. David Legwand scored twice in the loss for Nashville.

Of course, the Predators will have to try to find a better way to contain Blackhawks left wing Martin Havlat. He had two goals and two assists against Nashville and added a goal and an assist in the loss to Columbus.

Havlat and Michal Handzus will be joined on the top line by Radim Vrbata, who skated with the other two in practice Tuesday and will replace Michael Holmqvist.

"I just like the chemistry between the three of them," Yawney said.

Nashville has dropped seven of its last 10 games in Chicago, including the last two.
 

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Previews for October 12, 2006

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TIME: 10:00 PM EDT

Just three games into the season and the San Jose Sharks may have revenge on their minds.

San Jose will try to open the regular season with four straight wins for the first time in franchise history Thursday when it meets the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place in a rematch of the Western Conference semifinals.

The Sharks lost to Nashville to begin the opening round of the playoffs before winning the next four games to advance. Facing the Oilers, San Jose took the first two games by identical 2-1 scores before dropping four straight.

"It's always tough to lose especially when you have the series lead," said forward Jonathan Cheechoo, who led the league last season with 56 goals, but managed only two in the series against the Oilers.

Vesa Toskala, who inherited the starting job while Evgeni Nabokov battled injuries, allowed one goal in each of the two wins over the Oilers, but 16 in the four losses. With Toskala off to a strong start and Nabokov healthy again, San Jose (3-0-0) has the luxury of two goaltenders who could be clear-cut starters.

Toskala made 29 saves in a 4-1 win Tuesday over Calgary and set a franchise record by winning his ninth straight start dating back to last season.

"Every time I get in there, my goal is to relax, enjoy it, and give my team a chance to win. That's all I can control," Toskala said.

Three nights earlier, Nabokov stopped 26 shots en route to his 28th career shutout in a 2-0 win over the New York Islanders.

"I've always said it's a great problem to have," general manager Doug Wilson said about the Sharks' goaltending. "We're just zeroed in on not having too many distractions. They're very professional, and we'll go from there. We have such great depth, which very few teams have."

Cheechoo, though, has yet to score a goal this season and has just one in 12 regular-season games lifetime versus Edmonton (1-1-0).

This Oilers team, though, is much different than the one that lost in seven games to Carolina in the Stanley Cup finals. Defenseman Chris Pronger was traded to Anaheim, and forwards Michael Peca and Sergei Samsonov signed with Toronto and Montreal, respectively, as free agents.

Edmonton has managed just four goals so far and is tied with Calgary for the fewest scored in the Western Conference. The Oilers split a home-and-home series with the Flames to start the season, posting a 3-1 win at home Oct. 5 before dropping a 2-1 decision Saturday in Calgary.

Joffrey Lupul, acquired from Anaheim for Pronger, scored the lone goal in the loss.

Ryan Smyth, the longest-tenured player on Edmonton, needs three points to reach 500 for his career. Selected sixth overall in 1994, Smyth has 13 goals and 13 assists in 39 games against San Jose.
 

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Previews for October 12, 2006

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TIME: 10:30 PM EDT

A balanced offense has provided a quick start to the Dallas Stars, who begin a difficult early-season stretch Thursday with the first of consecutive road games against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.

The Stars (2-0-0) were hoping for someone to fill the void left by the departure of Jason Arnott, who was second on the team with 32 goals and 76 points last season before leaving for Nashville via free agency. Instead, multiple players have contributed timely goals, and six Stars players have scored in the first two games.

Captain Brenden Morrow scored and added an assist in Dallas' 3-1 victory Saturday over New Jersey in its home opener, and the Stars killed off 8 of 9 power-play opportunities.

"We were pretty solid in a lot of areas, but there is still some room for improvement," said coach Dave Tippett. "We had some timely goals and killed some penalties. ... It was a step forward, but we'll still be pushing to get better."

Niklas Hagman and Eric Lindros also scored for Dallas, which hopes to solve its special teams problems during its four-game road trip. The Stars are 0-for-9 on the power play and have logged a league-high 58 penalty minutes in their two victories.

"That is one of the things on the road you can't do," Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher said of the penalty minutes. "Some calls might be shaky, but that's what it is. ... There's no excuse for it. You've got to find a way to stay disciplined and hopefully we turn that around where we get eight or nine power plays."

Following this two-game set with the Kings, the Stars also play at Pacific Division rivals Anaheim and San Jose before returning home to face Chicago on Oct. 20. The three opponents are a combined 8-1-1.

"The road trip poses a lot of challenges, but ones that we're looking forward to," said goaltender Marty Turco, who is 6-8-2 with a 2.84 goal-against average lifetime against the Kings. "We're going to be playing these teams a lot this year, so it's going to be important for us to play them well for the first time in their arenas and hopefully get some points out of the deal."

After opening the season with a a loss, the Kings (2-1-0) have posted consecutive wins, including a 4-2 victory Tuesday over the New York Islanders. Defenseman Brent Sopel scored the go-ahead goal with six seconds left in the second period on a power-play opportunity. The goal was his second of the season, equaling his total in 68 games last season with the Islanders and Kings.

"Last year was miserable. Getting these two points against them was a little bit sweeter, for sure," Sopel said. "There were a lot of things wrong there, and I was happy to get out of there and go to an organization like L.A."

This is the third game of a six-game homestand for Los Angeles, which hosts Dallas again on Saturday.
 

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Previews for October 13, 2006

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TIME: 7:00 PM EDT

The Buffalo Sabres are off to a fast start, but could have their hands full against a Detroit Red Wings offense that may have hit its stride.

To remain undefeated and notch their best start in 31 years, Buffalo must win in Detroit on Friday for the first time in more than 12 years.

Chris Drury had a goal and an assist Saturday as Buffalo (3-0-0) beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3. The Sabres, off to their best start since the strike-shortened 1994-95 season, are looking to win their first four games for the first time since opening with eight straight wins in 1975-76.

However, they've lost eight in a row at Joe Louis Arena, dating to March 6, 1994. These teams haven't met in any arena since Detroit won 7-2 on Dec. 10, 2003, handing Buffalo its 12th loss in the last 14 meetings overall.

The Red Wings (2-1-0) were even better offensively in their most recent game, beating Phoenix 9-2 on Wednesday. Detroit, held to three goals through its first two games, had not scored that many times in one game since Feb. 13, 1996.

"Guys were shooting the puck a little bit more," said Jason Williams, who had a goal and an assist. "They happened to go in for us. On another night, they might not go in."

Defenseman Mathieu Schneider, in his 18th season, had three goals and an assist for his second career hat trick and his first points of the season.

The Sabres have not had any games that were nearly as one-sided, having opened with shootout victories over Carolina and Montreal. Not including goals awarded for winning shootouts, Buffalo has scored 10 goals while its opponents have nine this season.

"They've all been close. It would be nice to run away with a game but I don't think, in a lot of cases, this league is about teams dominating other teams," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, whose team plays its first seven games against teams which made last season's playoffs.

Martin Biron made his first start of the season Saturday and stopped 34 shots. Ryan Miller, the only goalie used by Buffalo in the playoffs last season, was in net for the first two games and stopped 61 of 67 shots.

Likely to be in the opposite net will be Dominik Hasek, the only goalie Detroit has used this season. He made 19 saves on Wednesday and has faced only 51 shots through three games.

Hasek played for Buffalo from 1992-93 through 2000-01, going 234-170-70 with a 2.22 goals-against average while winning six Vezina and two Hart trophies. He's won two matchups and lost two against the Sabres since they traded him to Detroit following the 2000-01 season, and lost to them in a shootout on Feb. 4 in the most recent meeting while he was with Ottawa.
 

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Previews for October 13, 2006

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TIME: 7:30 PM EDT

The Carolina Hurricanes haven't played at all like the team that captured the Stanley Cup less than four months ago.

Still seeking their first win, the Hurricanes (0-3-1) take on a team off to a hot start when they face the Atlanta Thrashers (3-0-1) at Philips Arena on Friday night.

"We know we've got to get in the win column and turn this thing around," Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican said. "And we've got to start as soon as possible."

To do that, Carolina needs to start keeping the puck out of its own net. Only Phoenix (19) has allowed more goals than the Hurricanes' 18, and the defending champs have been outscored 11-5 in dropping the first two games of a season-high seven-game road trip.

The Hurricanes have struggled just as badly on offense. Carolina, third in the NHL with 294 goals last season, has just seven so far and is 3-for-28 on the power play.

The absence of left wing Cory Stillman, out after offseason shoulder surgery, has hurt. Carolina has also gotten no production out of captain Rod Brind'Amour, who is pointless this season. Both players had at least 70 points last season.

Brind'Amour had a goal and eight assists in eight games against Atlanta last season.

Fixing its problems on defense and offense may be tough for Carolina to do against Atlanta, which has scored 13 goals and given up only four in jumping out to a two-point lead in the Southeast Division.

Kari Lehtonen is the primary reason why the Thrashers have been so difficult to score against. The 22-year-old goaltender set a franchise record with a 167-minute, 56-second scoreless streak, a run that ended with a second-period goal in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Boston.

"I was not expecting anything like this," said Lehtonen, 3-0-1 with a 0.74 goals-against average and two shutouts this season. "Not even in my wildest dreams."

Lehtonen is 1-3 with a 3.54 GAA in four starts against Carolina, all of which came last season.

"Kari has been unbelievable for us so far," Thrashers forward Marian Hossa said. "But I also think we're doing a much better job of helping out Kari."

Atlanta has allowed one even-strength goal and killed off 23 of 25 short-handed situations.

Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, a star of Carolina's run to the Stanley Cup, hasn't been nearly as good as his Thrashers counterpart this season. Ward has a 3.57 GAA and a save percentage of just .857, and the Hurricanes went with veteran John Grahame against Florida on Wednesday night.

The change in net failed to spark Carolina, as Grahame gave up six goals on 31 shots in a 6-3 loss.

"My team's fighting it a little bit and the goalie needs to come up big," Grahame said. "It was a good opportunity for me and I think I let everybody down."

The Hurricanes' sputtering power play didn't help matters, converting once in eight opportunities.

While Carolina is having trouble scoring, Hossa has powered the Thrashers offensively in his second season since arriving in the Dany Heatley trade with Ottawa. He had a goal and an assist Wednesday, increasing his season total to four goals and three assists.

The Hurricanes and Thrashers split eight meetings last season, with each team going 2-2 at home.
 

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Previews for October 13, 2006

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TIME: 7:30 PM EDT

The Florida Panthers are off to the best offensive home start in team history. The Tampa Bay Lightning aren't scoring much in any arena they play in.

The Panthers (2-1-1) look to continue their success at the BankAtlantic Center when they meet the Lightning (1-2-0) on Friday night in the opener of a home-and-home series.

Florida's 14 goals in its first two home games are a franchise record, four more than the team's previous high set in 1995-96. The Panthers began their offensive surge with an 8-3 season-opening victory over Boston, then were outscored 8-1 in two road losses - including a 6-0 defeat to Atlanta on Saturday.

Florida returned home Wednesday and beat Stanley Cup champion Carolina 6-3, leaving the Panthers to wonder why their play has varied so greatly in the early going.

"If I knew the answer to (why), we would be scoring more on the road," said Panthers center Stephen Weiss, who had a goal and two assists in the win. "We're definitely playing well at home, if we can get our road game going it will be more points for us."

The Panthers have converted five of 10 power-play opportunities on home ice and killed off 14 of their opponents' 16 chances. Olli Jokinen, Florida's leading scorer the last three seasons, recorded the team's first short-handed goal Wednesday, along with an even-strength goal and two assists.

"There's no doubt, that's what you expect from your captain," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "Your teammates see that and that is the kind of game that we needed. Now we need to get everyone on board and get ready for Tampa who is another challenge."

Jokinen has risen to that challenge throughout his career. The big center has 15 goals in 33 games against the Lightning, his most against any team, along with 13 assists.

Those types of numbers helped Florida take the 2005-06 season series 6-2 over Tampa Bay. The Panthers have also won six of their last seven home meetings with the Lightning, outscoring them 27-16.

Tampa Bay doesn't appear ready to break that trend Friday. The Lightning have scored five goals through their first three games, matching the lowest total in team history at this point in the season.

After winning its opener 3-2 in a shootout over Atlanta, Tampa Bay has dropped two straight, including Monday's 1-0 loss to the Thrashers. The Lightning are 1-for-19 on the power play, including 0-for-12 over the last two contests.

Tampa Bay is outshooting opponents 91-55, however, and coach John Tortorella believes his team will eventually break through.

"We've got some guys struggling, putting pressure on themselves," Tortorella said. "We're struggling offensively. You have to believe the scoring will come."

Ryan Craig is one of the few Tampa Bay players not struggling, with three goals on the season. The Lightning center, who had 15 goals and 13 assists last season, has recorded three goals and an assist in six games against the Panthers.

Lightning goaltender Marc Denis has been solid this season, posting a 1.99 goals-against average. He's 1-1 with a tie and a 1.30 GAA in three starts against Florida.

Both teams could be missing a center Friday, as Florida's Joe Nieuwendyk (leg) and Tampa Bay's Andreas Karlsson (groin) sat out the last game.

The Southeast Division rivals finish out the series Saturday night at Tampa.
 

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Previews for October 13, 2006

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TIME: 10:00 PM EDT

A strong start at home last season didn't translate in another trip to the playoffs for the Vancouver Canucks.

With a new coach and starting goaltender, the Canucks open their home schedule Friday at GM Place against the San Jose Sharks, who look to bounce back from their first loss of the season.

Last season, Vancouver (2-1-1) reeled off seven straight wins and went 13-1 to begin its home slate. A late fade - highlighted by six losses in their last eight games overall - left the Canucks out of the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

In the offseason, Vancouver started its housecleaning by replacing longtime coach Marc Crawford with former Montreal coach Alain Vigneault. Top defenseman Ed Jovanovski and 33-goal scorer Anson Carter left as free agents to sign with Phoenix and Columbus, respectively.

But the biggest move was a June trade with Florida that yielded Roberto Luongo in exchange for Todd Bertuzzi and Alexander Auld. In four games with his new team, Luongo has a 1.73 goals-against average.

"I don't think I'm playing better now than I was in Florida," said Luongo, who had a 2.68 GAA in five seasons with the Panthers. "The circumstances are different because I think we have a better team."

The Canucks are coming off a season-opening road trip in which they gained five of a possible eight points. In a 2-1 loss Tuesday to unbeaten Minnesota, Luongo gave up three shootout goals, including the winning tally after being deked on a backhand by Petteri Nummelin.

"I've just got to be a little more patient on those fakes," said Luongo, who has just one win and a 3.56 GAA in six career games against San Jose.

Luongo also will have to try and stop last season's league-leading goal scorer, Jonathan Cheechoo.

Cheechoo recorded his first three goals of 2006-07 for the sixth hat trick of his career in San Jose's 6-4 loss Thursday to Edmonton. His previous five three-goal games came between Dec. 20 and April 15.

He struggled last season against the Canucks, though. His only points in four games against them last season came April 13, when he had two goals and an assist in a 5-3 win.

Behind stellar goaltending from Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose (3-1-0) was looking for its first 4-0 start in franchise history. But Nabokov allowed three goals in a 2:01 span to Ryan Smyth early in the third period as the Sharks squandered a two-goal lead.

"We have to play smarter in the third period," said Cheechoo, who tallied a career-high 56 goals last season. "When you blow a lead like that, that's not what you want. That's not how you win playoff games. You have to be able to protect a two-goal lead at that point in the game. We had a few lapses."

Toskala, who has a 2.46 GAA in two starts, almost certainly will be in net for this game. He is 2-2 with a 2.95 GAA in five lifetime starts against Vancouver.

The teams each scored 13 goals last season while splitting their four-game series.
 

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Previews for October 14, 2006

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Time: 10:30 PM EDT

National TV: HD NET

Local Home: KDFI

Local Away: FSW

Though he's 33 years old and in the twilight of an injury-plagued career, Eric Lindros still can be an offensive force.

Coming off his first three-point game in nearly three years, Lindros will try to help the Dallas Stars open the season with four straight wins for the first time in a decade when they meet the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Saturday night.

Lindros had three assists in the Stars' 4-1 win over the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday. It was the first three-point game for the former top overall pick since Nov. 10, 2003 while with the New York Rangers.

Dallas (3-0-0) is off to its best start since starting the 1996-97 season with six wins in a row.

A six-time All-Star and the 1995 Hart Trophy winner, Lindros has averaged 59 games in 12 seasons with Philadelphia, the Rangers and Toronto. So far, he's registered at least one point in all three games and leads the Stars with five.

"I think we have a team this year that's going to play extremely well," Lindros said. "There's a good feel in this room and it's fun to go out and play hockey."

A wrist injury last season limited Lindros to three games after Dec. 10. Overall, he appeared in just 33 games with the Maple Leafs and had 11 goals and 11 assists.

Goaltender Marty Turco said the addition of Lindros, who's suffered multiple concussions in his career, has helped Dallas get off to its hot start.

"He's been great for us," Turco said. "There are a lot of adjectives and cliches that have gotten thrown his way during his career because of the things that have happened to him. But he's still got the physical attributes and the skill, and it's his hunger that really pulls him into this team."

Turco has been another key for Dallas, stopping 87 of 91 shots for a 1.32 goals-against average.

"Marty's been excellent," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "He's made a couple of tough saves when he's had to, and the team has played pretty well in front of him."

Turco had a career-high 41 wins last season, but struggled against the Kings going 2-4 with a 3.88 GAA.

Mike Modano, the Stars' all-time leading scorer, added a goal and an assist Thursday. He has 16 goals, including three game-winners, in 33 career games at Los Angeles.

Rookie defenseman Raitis Ivanans' first career goal early in the third period helped the Kings (2-2-0) avoid being shut out.

"We just got sand kicked in our face," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "We did not have the type of passion that we needed to play with. The team was not ready to play at the start of the game, and that is my fault."

Los Angeles went 6-2 against the Stars last season thanks in large part to defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who had seven goals and seven assists in the season series. He managed only three shots on goal Thursday as the Kings scored fewer than three goals for the first time this season.

This is the fourth game of a season-high six-game homestand for Los Angeles.
 

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Previews for October 14, 2006

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Time: 10:00 PM EDT

National TV: CBC

Local Away: ALT (HD)

After breaking one of Wayne Gretzky's franchise records his last time out, left wing Ryan Smyth looks to build on his fifth career hat trick when the Edmonton Oilers visit the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.

Smyth scored three times in a 2:01 span in the third period to lead Edmonton (2-1-0) to a 6-4 win over San Jose on Thursday. He beat Gretzky's team record for fastest three goals by 17 seconds.

"I just got on a good roll," Smyth said. "Two of them were on the power play. I was just trying to help the team and contribute, not thinking about anything else. It turned out to be a pretty good one."

Smyth, the sixth overall pick by Edmonton in 1994, is fifth all-time in team history with 237 goals and seventh with 501 points.

"Any time you beat one of the Great One's records, it is a pretty good night," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "Good for Ryan. For a guy that grew up idolizing Wayne to get one of his records, it couldn't be placed in a better spot. I'm sure he would appreciate something like that."

Smyth will have a good chance to pad his stats against Colorado (1-0-2). He has 15 goals and 19 assists in his career against the Avalanche, including three goals and two assists in seven games last season.

Smyth's performance on Thursday helped Edmonton bounce back from its first loss of the season, a 2-1 defeat at Calgary last Saturday.

Edmonton has used goalie Dwayne Roloson in each of its three games, and he has stopped 83 of 90 shots.

The Avalanche are coming off their first win of the season, 3-2 over Vancouver last Sunday. Marek Svatos scored his first two goals of the season for Colorado, including the game-winner with 5:44 left.

Svatos tied Joe Sakic for the team lead last season with 32 goals, but was off to a slow start this season after he missed most of training camp recovering from a fractured right shoulder.

"I think we are starting to see him back to what he's capable of," Avs coach Joel Quenneville said.

Five of Colorado's seven goals this season have come on the power play, including all three against the Canucks.

"We can relax a little more," center Ian Laperriere said. "We're not thinking about when we're going to get that first win."

The Avalanche went 4-3-1 against the Oilers last season, including a 2-1-1 mark at the Pepsi Center. Patrice Brisebois and Milan Hejduk each had seven points for Colorado in the series.

Jarret Stoll and current St. Louis right wing Radek Dvorak each recorded seven points for Edmonton, with Stoll scoring four goals and Dvorak picking up six assists.
 

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Previews for October 14, 2006

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Time: 8:00 PM EDT

Local Home: FSO

Local Away: FSN

The Minnesota Wild have taken full advantage of their comfortable schedule to begin the season.

Off to the best start in franchise history, the Wild look to remain undefeated Saturday when they conclude a five-game homestand with a matchup against a Columbus Blue Jackets team that is also playing well early in the season.

The NHL gave Minnesota five games at the Xcel Energy Center to open the season and the team has used the home-ice advantage in the first four. The Wild (4-0-0) began the year with a 3-2 overtime victory over Colorado and have won their past two games in a shootout.

"We're looking for perfection, and I know it's hard to get, but we want to be as close as possible," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said.

All of Minnesota's victories this season have come by one goal and the Wild have won their last six shootouts, but Lemaire said they must get tougher defensively.

"We're happy as a coaching staff, but also worried," he said. "We want to be steadier. But we're facing some teams that are pretty good. We have to get tougher to play against. We have to play a tight game."

With only one playoff trip in the franchise's first five seasons, the Wild vowed to upgrade the roster and bring in more talent.

New acquisitions Pavol Demitra and Kim Johnsson have given Minnesota exactly what it was looking for. Demitra - who has scored at least 20 goals in eight straight seasons - has six points in the first four games, while Johnsson had two power-play goals in Thursday's 3-2 shootout win over Washington.

Johnsson nearly had his first career hat trick, clanging a shot off the post in the second period.

"Sure, you think about it," said Johnsson, who spent the past four seasons with Philadelphia. "But on the one shot, I hit the post and I had a couple other chances. But we won the game and that is what counts. Hopefully we can keep it going for Saturday."

The Wild, who begin a three-game road trip after this contest, will be without left wing Pascal Dupuis for the next four to six weeks because of a sprained left knee suffered against the Capitals. Dupuis, in his fifth year with Minnesota, had 10 goals and 16 assists in 67 games last season.

The Blue Jackets (2-0-1) have won consecutive games since a 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver in the season opener. The fast start is the reverse of last season, when a 5-18-0 beginning doomed any chance Columbus had of making the playoffs.

The Blue Jackets had three wins in their first four games in 2003-04 before losing seven in a row, but this year's squad seems to have the offensive attack to avoid a similar fate.

Columbus has scored 10 goals in wins over Chicago and Phoenix, and has eight power-play goals in three games to match the total it had in 12 October contests last season.

"There are a lot of guys getting pucks to the net and scoring goals," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "I just think they are confident. The power play is about outworking the penalty kill and I think they are doing a good job on that."

The return of 21-year-old Nikolai Zherdev to the lineup will only help the offense. After skipping training camp because of a contract dispute and missing the first two games because of visa problems, Zherdev arrived from Russia on Sunday and scored two goals Monday in the Blue Jackets' 5-1 win over the Coyotes.

"First of all, I'm happy the team won," said Zherdev, who had 27 goals last season. "It was nice to score two goals, but it is more important that the team won."

Columbus won three of four meetings with Minnesota last season and has won nine of the past 13 overall.
 

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Previews for October 14, 2006

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Time: 8:00 PM EDT

Local Home: AZTV

The Nashville Predators didn't expect to be winless after three games.

Following the best season in franchise history, the Predators again try for their first victory of the season on Saturday when they host another struggling club, the Phoenix Coyotes.

Nashville won 49 games and finished with 106 points in 2005-06, both club records, and began this season with Stanley Cup aspirations.

A terrible start has followed, though the Predators (0-3-0) remain undaunted despite scoring only three times in 21 power-play chances and allowing 17 goals in three games.

"I am surprised," backup goalie Chris Mason said after Nashville lost 3-1 to Chicago on Thursday. "I think everybody is, but I'm not too worried. We've been in every game.

"We have done things that have kind of given the game away and I think that is something we can easily fix. It's no time to panic."

Two of Nashville's three losses have come to Chicago, including an 8-6 defeat at home in the season opener.

"We've been tied in the third period of three games and not come out of them with any points," Nashville associate coach Brent Peterson said. "It's a little frustrating. We're losing all different ways.

"We played much better. Much more responsible. Much more team-oriented. Now we've just got to find a way to finish off our chances, score on the power play, kill penalties and do everything it takes to win a game."

The team has fared well against the Coyotes (1-3-0), who have lost three straight following a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders in their season opener.

Nashville has won six of the last seven meetings between the teams, and hasn't lost at home to the Coyotes since a 2-1 defeat on Oct. 22, 2002.

The Predators begin a three-game road trip following Saturday's game and have only four home games this month. They were 32-8-1 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center last season, but only 17-17-7 on the road.

Phoenix lost 2-1 at home to Anaheim last Saturday before being thoroughly outplayed in its last two defeats, getting outscored 14-3 by Columbus and Detroit.

The team was scoreless in nine power-play chances against the Red Wings and is 0-for-14 with the man advantage in the last two games.

"It wasn't much fun out there, there's no question about that," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said after Wednesday's 9-2 loss to Detroit. "They basically embarrassed us as a team. I don't think our team can get much lower than this."

Curtis Joseph allowed seven goals on 29 shots and has an .855 save percentage this season while backup Mike Morrison has allowed seven goals on 40 shots.

The Coyotes have allowed the first goal in every game this season.

Dating to last season, Phoenix has lost six of its last seven road games.
 

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Previews for October 14, 2006

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Time: 8:00 PM EDT

Local Home: CSN-C

Local Away: KPLR

The Chicago Blackhawks have been one of the most disappointing franchises in the NHL over the past decade, but second-year coach Trent Yawney is trying to change that.

The Blackhawks look to build off a strong team effort in their last game when they visit the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Chicago (2-1) finished last season with the second-worst record in the Western Conference as it missed the playoffs for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.

Although they scored 12 goals in their first two games, they also allowed 11 goals, and Yawney criticized the defense for its play. The team responded with a 3-1 victory over Nashville on Thursday.

"We were much better than the first two games," said Martin Havlat, who had a goal and an assist against the Predators. "We played much better defensively."

Havlat has four goals and four assists in three games after being acquired from Ottawa in July.

The Blackhawks went just 3-8 in October last season, and have not won three of their first four games of a season since the 1990-91 season. Yawney was a defenseman on that Chicago club, which finished 49-23-8 to win the Norris Division.

"I'm just sick and tired of losing," Yawney said. "I've been in this organization a long time as a player and a coach, and I'm tired of it. I'm not tolerating mediocrity anymore, and I hope no one in the organization is. Enough's enough."

Nikolai Khabibulin made 37 saves on Thursday, and lost a bid for his first shutout as a Blackhawk with 5:31 remaining in the game.

"I thought for the most part we played pretty good tonight," said Khabibulin, who made 53 saves in his first two games. "We've just got to keep building on that."

Chicago didn't win consecutive games last season until Nov. 6 and 10.

Khabibulin went 4-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average against the Blues (1-2-1) last season, allowing two goals or less in five of those contests.

Overall last season, the Blackhawks were 5-2-1 against St. Louis, which finished with the worst record in the NHL.

The Blues defeated Boston 3-2 in a shootout in their home opener on Thursday as they rallied to score twice in the final 3:57 to send the game into overtime.

Lee Stempniak scored the game winner in the shootout and also scored St. Louis' first goal, snapping a scoreless drought of 143:02 by the team.

"We were just trying to play with heart and win the game," said Blues forward Jamal Mayers, who tied the game at 18:33 of the third period.

Bill Guerin assisted on Stempniak's goal on Thursday, and is tied with Mayers for the team lead with three points. Guerin, who signed as a free agent in July, had a goal and five assists in three games against Chicago last season with Dallas.

Manny Legace stopped 16 shots during regulation and overtime, and three of four attempts in the shootout to record his first win as a member of the Blues. He gave up nine goals in 75 shots in his first two games.

Legace went 3-0 with a 2.76 GAA in four games against the Blackhawks last season with Detroit before signing with St. Louis as a free agent in August. He is 6-4 with a 2.32 GAA in his career against Chicago.
 

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Previews for October 14, 2006

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Time: 7:30 PM EDT

The Florida Panthers try to sweep a home-and-home tonight when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.

On Friday, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period, as the Panthers edged the Lightning, 3-2, at Bank Atlantic Center in the set's opener.

Juraj Kolnik and Nathan Horton scored the other goals for the Panthers, who won their second straight overall and third straight in-a-row home. Olli Jokinen added a pair of assists and is tied for the NHL scoring lead with eight points (3g, 5a).

Goaltender Alexander Auld, who was acquired from Vancouver in the Roberto Luongo/Todd Bertuzzi trade, finished with 21 saves. Auld has stopped 157 of the 168 shots he has faced so far in the young season.

The Panthers will visit Washington on Wednesday.

Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Craig scored for the Lightning, who lost their third straight match after a season-opening win over Atlanta. Goaltender Johan Holmqvist blocked 24-of-27 shots in defeat.

The Lightning's offensive attack has sputtered to say the least, managing a mere seven goals in the first four games. Tampa is 1-for-27 on the power play on the season, including an 0-for-20 mark in the last three tilts.

Craig leads the team with four goals, while Lecavalier has one goal and two assists. Former Hart Trophy winner Martin St. Louis has yet to post a point in the early going.

The Lightning will host Carolina on Monday.

Florida went 6-2 against Tampa last season, going 2-2 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
 

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Previews for October 14, 2006

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Time: 7:30 PM EDT

Local Home: FSS (HD)

Local Away: FSP (HD)

After winning their first game of the season, the Carolina Hurricanes try to make it four points in two nights when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

Ray Whitney tipped in the game-winning goal - his first of the season - with one-half second left in regulation, giving the defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes a 4-3 win over Atlanta and their first victory of 2006-07.

"In the third period we were playing not to make mistakes, not to win," Whitney said. "But we hung in there."

The goal stopped the club's season-opening four-game losing streak (0-3-1) - the longest for the franchise since 1992-93, when they were the Hartford Whalers.

Carolina (1-3-1) jumped out to a three-goal first-period lead and appeared to be in control, but the Thrashers tied the game with Bobby Holik's third-period goal. Whitney then scored for the first time since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals on June 14.

"It got to my stick and I took a whack at it," Whitney said. "It was a fortunate goal, one this team needed."

He had two goals and eight points in three games against Pittsburgh last season.

Cam Ward stopped 31 shots in the win, but has allowed 12 total goals in his last three starts. The goaltender has a 3.44 goals-against average in four games after posting a 2.14 GAA in 23 playoff contests last season.

Ward is 2-1 with a 3.59 GAA in three games against the Penguins - all of them last season. The Hurricanes may opt to rest him and use backup John Grahame, who is 9-1-1 with a 1.97 GAA in 11 career starts against the Pens.

The Penguins (2-1-0) are coming off their own win in the waning seconds. Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner with 3.3 seconds left in overtime to give Pittsburgh a 6-5 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday.

"I asked our guys to find a way to win," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "It got a little crazy, but we got the last shot and we got the win."

The Penguins appear to be showing improvement this season after opening 2005-06 with nine consecutive losses.

The 19-year-old Crosby tied his career-high of four points in a game Thursday, after being held without one in a 2-0 loss to Detroit last Saturday.

Jordan Staal, 18, and Kristopher Letang, 19, both scored their first NHL goals, marking the first time in 24 years that three teenagers scored for a team in a game.

It last occurred Oct. 17, 1982, when teenagers Dave Andreychuk, Paul Cyr and Phil Housley scored goals for the Buffalo Sabres in a 6-4 win over Edmonton.

Pittsburgh is one of three NHL teams - along with San Jose and Ottawa - which has an average age of less than 27 on its roster.

"The more I play, the better I feel out there and the more confident I'm getting," said Jordan Staal, brother of Hurricanes star Eric Staal.

Saturday's game will be the first time the brothers go head-to-head in an NHL game.

Carolina took three of four meetings in last season's series with the Penguins.
 

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Previews for October 14, 2006

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Time: 7:30 PM EDT

Local Home: CSN-P

Local Away: FSNY (HD)

After a shaky performance in the New Jersey Devils' home opener, Martin Brodeur tries to bounce back against a team he has dominated lately at Continental Airlines Arena.

Brodeur and the Devils look to win their fifth straight home game over the Philadelphia Flyers when these Atlantic Division foes renew their rivalry on Saturday.

Brodeur matched a career worst by allowing five goals in the second period on Thursday, but he stopped three shots in a shootout after the Devils (2-1-0) came back from a three-goal deficit in the third period en route to a 7-6 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"It was a tough game for me but we pulled it out of our hat," said Brodeur, who had not given up five goals in a period since Nov. 14, 1998 at Philadelphia. "Give a lot of credit to the guys for bouncing back. When your goalie doesn't make the saves, it's hard to get up and get going. They proved they have a lot of character."

Brodeur stopped all seven shots he faced in the third period and overtime, moving past Terry Sawchuk into third place on the all-time wins list with 448.

Brian Gionta scored three times in the third period - including the game-tying goal with 37 seconds remaining - to record his first career hat trick. John Madden scored twice and got the game-winner in the shootout.

Thursday's game was uncharacteristic for Brodeur, who went 25-9-2 at Continental Airlines Arena last season with four shutouts.

Brodeur was in net for all four of the Devils' home games against the Flyers last season and won every time, recording one shutout while saving 106-of-109 shots. New Jersey outscored Philadelphia 14-3 in those contests.

The two-time Vezina Trophy winner has lost just three times in 19 home games against the Flyers since the 1997-98 season, posting a 1.82 goals-against average. Philadelphia has won only four of its last 22 visits overall to Continental Airlines Arena.

Brodeur was in net for all eight games against Philadelphia last season, going 5-3 with a 1.62 GAA.

The Flyers (1-2-1) lost to Montreal 3-1 on Wednesday, again failing to capitalize on the power play. They wasted all eight power-play opportunities, including an 0-for-4 effort in the first period.

"It is a little frustrating to not put the puck in the net," center Mike Richards said. "We created a lot of chances, but just didn't bury anything."

The Flyers are 3-for-32 with the man advantage this season, and the Devils have allowed just one goal in 12 short-handed situations.

Antero Niittymaki started his third straight game in net on Wednesday, and allowed two goals on 22 shots before the Canadiens scored into an empty net in the final seconds. Niittymaki is 1-1-1 with a 2.62 GAA this season, and even with a torn labrum in his left hip, he seems to have edged out Robert Esche as Philadelphia's No. 1 goalie.

"(Niittymaki) is playing great," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That is what we talked about at the start of the year. Whoever is playing well we've got to go with. He's playing terrific."

Niittymaki is 3-2 with a 2.31 GAA in his career against the Devils.

Captain Peter Forsberg has two goals and three assists this season, and had six points in five games against New Jersey last season.

Simon Gagne leads the Flyers with three goals this season, and scored five in seven games against the Devils last season.

Philadelphia opens a four-game road trip Saturday.
 
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