Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2001

Florida halts four-game losing streak with 2-0 victory over Columbus

December 6, 2001


— The Mike Keenan era got off to a perfect start Wednesday night.

Roberto Luongo stopped 23 shots for his fourth shutout as the Florida Panthers beat Columbus, 2-0, to snap a four-game losing streak.

Florida hired Keenan as coach Monday, replacing Duane Sutter after the team won just six of its first 26 games. The Panthers also fired general manager Bill Torrey.

Keenan's first game was exactly what he wanted. He received strong goaltending from Luongo, solid defense and inspired play from the inexperienced and short-handed Panthers.

"Everybody wanted to show him what we could do," Luongo said. "That's the kind of hockey team we are. We're not going to win 6-5. We're going to win 1-0, 2-1."

The victory gave Keenan 540 regular-season wins, two shy of Billy Reay for fourth place on the career list.

"We definitely showed a lot of passion," Keenan said. "It was a big night for everyone. They responded very well to a very, very big change in their lives. They responded and accepted the responsibility well."

Luongo won for the first time since Nov. 21 against Anaheim. That also was his last shutout and Florida's last victory. Four of his six wins this season have been shutouts, giving him 10 for his career.

Columbus lost its third in a row and was held scoreless for the fifth time this season.

The Blue Jackets, 29th in the league on power plays, continued to struggle with a man advantage. They went 0-for-4 and fell to 1-for-23 in the last seven games.

Florida came closer to scoring on Columbus' power plays. Niklas Hagman missed two good short-handed opportunities. Ron Tugnutt made a poke save on the first one and a glove save on the second.

"It was a very disappointing effort on our part," said Columbus coach Dave King, whose team assumed Florida would be energized by the coaching change.

"We knew what to expect. It's been talked about for three days, and we came out and had a very average first period. We really played a very lethargic game for a team that's had a couple of days off."

Coyotes 3, Blues 0

Phoenix Sean Burke made 27 saves for his 29th career shutout as Phoenix won its third in a row and sixth straight at home. The Blues lost for the first time in six games in a bitter homecoming for left wing Keith Tkachuk, the Coyotes' captain for seven years before his trade to St. Louis on March 13.

Oilers 3, Mighty Ducks 2

Edmonton, Alberta Steve Staios scored 1:21 into overtime to give Edmonton a victory over Anaheim. Staios tapped Anson Carter's cross-ice pass into an open side of the goal for the defenseman's second goal of the season. Mike Comrie and Scott Ferguson also scored for the Oilers.

Blackhawks 4, Wild 2

Chicago Michael Nylander had a goal and two assists to lead Chicago over Minnesota. Chicago earned its first victory at the United Center since November 11 and only its second in 12 games. Minnesota lost to the Blackhawks for just the second time in franchise history and the first time at Chicago.

Senators 6, Stars 3

Dallas Martin Havlat had two second-period goals and an assist as Ottawa ended Dallas' four-game winning streak. Dallas, returning home from a perfect four-game road trip, was unbeaten in six games (4-0-2). Daniel Alfredsson, Todd White, Mike Fisher and Radek Bonk added Ottawa goals. Marian Hossa had two assists.

Avalanche 4, Red Wings 1

Detroit Milan Hejduk, Radim Vrbata, Steven Reinprecht and Rob Blake scored as Colorado beat Detroit in the first matchup between the Western Conference powers. The Avalanche (15-12-2) extended their season-high unbeaten streak to six games. The Red Wings (22-5-1-1) lost consecutive games in the regular season for the first time since January.

Devils 2, Canadiens 1

Montreal Patrick Elias scored his 14th goal and assisted on Brian Rafalski's game-winner 15 seconds into the third period to lift New Jersey past Montreal. The Devils are unbeaten in three (2-0-1) after winning just one of their previous 10 games.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.