Gretzky’s Presence Sparks Coyotes’ Win

From Associated Press

The Phoenix Coyotes were like little kids before their game Friday night. Can you blame them?

With new owner Wayne Gretzky on hand evaluating the talent, the Coyotes shook off a case of the nerves to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0, at Raleigh, N.C.

“He’s undefeated. We’re undefeated under this new group,” Phoenix Coach Bob Francis said of Gretzky as the Coyotes went 10 games over .500 for the third time this season. “This is a good way to start. The guys obviously wanted to make a good impression.”


Phoenix generated only 18 shots on Carolina backup goalie Tyler Moss and was 0 for 4 on the power play, but Keith Tkachuk’s goal and Robert Esche’s second career shutout were enough to give the Coyotes their fourth win in five games.

“Just being around him before the game was great,” Tkachuk said of Gretzky.

Esche stopped 33 shots, 13 in the third period, as the Hurricanes gave up a short-handed empty-net goal to Mike Sullivan, shot from his own faceoff circle with 33 seconds left.

The Hurricanes, as part of an ongoing league-wide recognition of Gretzky, honored him between the first and second periods by hanging a banner that read “Gretzky 99 Forever.”

“If I would have known you were going to be this nice I would have brought my skates,” Gretzky told the crowd of 13,812.

New York Islanders 4, Edmonton 2--Rick DiPietro, the first goalie ever drafted No. 1, made 24 saves for his first NHL victory, and Roman Hamrlik had a goal and two assists at Edmonton, Canada, as the Islanders ended a six-game losing streak.

Hamrlik gave New York a 1-0 lead and set up Claude Lapointe’s winner at 13:19 of the third. Lapointe added an empty-net goal, his seventh, with nine seconds remaining.


San Jose 2, Nashville 0--Patrick Marleau had a goal and an assist as the Sharks defeated the Predators at Nashville to extend their NHL-best road unbeaten streak to 10.

Evgeni Nabokov made 19 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and fifth of his career. San Jose has shutouts in three of its last four games.

New Jersey 4, Pittsburgh 4--Petr Sykora scored twice and set up Jason Arnott’s goal with 4:01 to play to give the Devils a tie with Mario Lemieux and the Penguins at East Rutherford, N.J.

Lemieux scored his 20th goal in 21 games and Jeff Norton, Darius Kasparaitis and Billy Tibbetts also tallied for the Penguins against Martin Brodeur, who made 21 saves.

Detroit 4, Columbus 2--Vyacheslav Kozlov scored twice as the Red Wings defeated the Blue Jackets to extend their home winning streak to six games and unbeaten streak at Detroit to 10 games.

Chicago 6, St. Louis 2--Steve Sullivan scored a goal and added two assists as the Blackhawks earned their first home victory in nearly a month by defeating the Blues at Chicago.


Florida 2, Boston 1--Pavel Bure scored his eighth goal in three games and added an assist at Sunrise, Fla., as the Panthers earned their first three-game winning streak this season by defeating the Bruins.

Around the League

The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired goalie Wade Flaherty from the New York Islanders for a conditional ninth-round draft choice. . . . Center Ron Sutter, 37, who played with San Jose last season, was signed by the Calgary Flames. . . . The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired defenseman Wade Belak off waivers from the Calgary Flames. . . . New Jersey Devil right wing Alexander Mogilny, whose 31 goals were tied for fifth best in the NHL before Friday, will be sidelined almost a week because of a pulled stomach muscle.