December 31, 2005

Smolinski hits winner as Senators sink Islanders

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bryan Smolinski scored with 1:46 left
in the third period to rally the Ottawa Senators to a 4-3 win
over the New York Islanders on Friday in a National Hockey
League game in Ottawa.

A franchise-record crowd of 20,055 at the Corel Center saw
the Senators come back from a 3-1 deficit with a late second
period goal by Dany Heatley and an early third period goal by
Peter Schaefer to set up Smolinski's game-winner.

It was Ottawa's fourth straight win, but it came at a price
for the NHL leaders as they lost captain Daniel Alfredsson with
an injury.

Alfredsson scored Ottawa's other goal in the first period
but left the game in the second period after suffering a rib
injury after being hit by teammate Zdeno Chara's slap shot.

"He (Alfredsson) felt like he couldn't take a deep breath
and that comes with a deep bruise," Ottawa coach Bryan Murray

"We're hoping that's all. He went to get checked at the
hospital and they'll do the X-rays and everything they have to
do, but I don't have any other report."

Ottawa leads the NHL with 57 points in 36 games and handed
the Islanders their fourth straight loss.

New York also suffered some injuries to key players, as
starting goalie Rick DiPietro had to be helped off the ice
after being injured in a goal mouth scramble early in the first

The Islanders also lost the services of defenseman Alexei
Zhitnik with an apparent shoulder injury early in the second

Garth Snow replaced DiPietro in goal for the Islanders and
allowed the last three goals, including Smolinski's eighth goal
of the season at 18:14 of the third period.

Mattias Weinhandl, Chris Campoli and Jason Blake scored the
goals for the Islanders.

Ray Emery made 20 saves in goal for the Senators, who
out-shot the Islanders 37-23, including 12-4 in the final

Anton Volchenkov assisted on three of the goals for the

In Sunrise, Joe Nieuwendyk scored twice as the Florida
Panthers beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1.

Roberto Luongo made 27 saves for Florida.

Niklas Sunstrom scored for the Canadiens and Jose Theodore
made 28 saves.

In Tampa, Patrice Bergeron scored the game winning goal at
8:11 of the third as the Boston Bruins beat the Tampa Bay
Lightning 2-1.

Wayne Primeau scored the other goal for the Bruins. Hannu
Toivonen made 31 saves.

Rob DiMaio scored for the Lightning and Sean Burke made 22

In Buffalo, Chris Drury had a goal and an assist as the
Sabres beat the Atlanta Thrashers 4-1.

Thomas Vanek, Maxim Afinogenov and Mike Grier scored the
other goals for the Sabres. Ryan Miller made 34 saves.

Marc Savard scored for the Sabres. Kari Lehtonen made 25

In Chicago, Rick Nash scored the game winning goal at 13:02
of the first period as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the
Blackhawks 3-2.

Dan Fritsche and Nikolai Zherdev scored the other goals for
the Blue Jackets. Marc Denis made 41 saves.

Mark Bell and Martin Lapointe scored for the Blackhawks.
Craig Anderson made 18 saves.

In Edmonton, Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff both had a goal
and an assist as the Oilers beat the Nashville Predators 4-2.

In San Jose, Joe Thornton had two goals and an assist as
the Sharks beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.