Pronger’s Return Is No Help for Blues
Brett Hull’s 33rd career hat trick helped the Detroit Red Wings to a 6-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues Saturday at St. Louis, spoiling Chris Pronger’s return to the lineup.
Pronger scored in his first game back for the Blues. The 2000 NHL most valuable player and Norris Trophy winner sat out the first 77 games of the season to recover from knee and wrist surgery. He was on the ice for five Red Wing goals.
“It’s always nice to be back on the ice and playing, but I realized I’ve got a lot of work I need to do,” Pronger said. “As a team we’ve got a lot of work we need to do and we need to continue to get better.”
The Red Wings, who went 4-0-0-1 against the Blues this season, have won 19 of 22 (19-2-0-1).
The teams combined for 219 penalty minutes in the third period. There were two prolonged fights involving all the players on the ice in the game’s final two minutes.
A chair wound up near center ice with 35 seconds left, but it was not apparent who threw it and none of the players or coaches offered any explanations.
Detroit Coach Dave Lewis and St. Louis Coach Joel Quenneville also shouted at each other during the final minutes.
“I think they challenged us and we won every battle,” Lewis said. “Any battle we were thrown into, we seemed to win. I’m very happy with the results.”
New York Rangers 3, Boston 1 -- Alexei Kovalev scored two goals at Boston as the Rangers, who spoiled the Bruins’ bid to clinch a playoff berth, moved to within four points of the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Colorado 6, Phoenix 1 -- The Avalanche took control in the first period at Denver, scoring three goals in only 2 minutes 15 seconds to erase a 1-0 deficit.
Peter Forsberg had two assists to give him 99 points, second best in the NHL behind Vancouver’s Markus Naslund.
Colorado raised its point total to 99 and moved ahead of St. Louis into the No. 4 playoff position in the Western Conference.
Ottawa 3, Montreal 1 -- Patrick Lalime made 30 saves at Montreal for his career-high 37th win and the Senators eliminated the Canadiens from playoff contention.
Montreal will miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, the worst stretch in the franchise’s 86 years in the NHL.
Toronto 4, Washington 3 -- Mats Sundin scored a power-play goal 2:56 into overtime at Toronto. After Washington’s Sergei Gonchar received a four-minute, high sticking penalty, Sundin scored his 36th goal.
Florida 1, Tampa Bay 1 -- Martin St. Louis scored with 36.1 seconds left in the third period to help the Southeast Division-leading Lightning get a tie at Tampa. The Lightning, 6-0-5 in the last 11 games, leads Washington by two points.
Buffalo 3, Carolina 1 -- Miroslav Satan, Maxim Afinogenov and Daniel Briere scored power-play goals in a 7 1/2-minute span at Raleigh, N.C. The Sabres, tied for 26th in the league with the man advantage, scored three power-play goals in a game for the first time this season.
Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 0 -- The win at Philadelphia enabled the Flyers to move within two points of Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey.
Roman Cechmanek earned his 19th career shutout to pass Ron Hextall and move into second place on the Flyers’ career list behind Bernie Parent.
Columbus 6, Calgary 4 -- Geoff Sanderson scored four goals at Calgary, including three in a row in the second period, to help the Blue Jackets win for only the second time in 11 road games. Columbus, the last-place team in the Western Conference, moved within four points of Calgary.
Atlanta 3, Nashville 2 -- Pasi Nurminen made 39 saves and Dany Heatley and Marc Savard had a goal and an assist each to lead the Thrashers at Nashville.
Dallas 4, San Jose 3 -- Brenden Morrow scored a power-play goal with 2:02 left at San Jose. The win gives the Stars 105 points, second in the league behind Ottawa’s 107.