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Crosby returns in win

Penguins 3

Islanders 2

Sidney Crosby returned from a three-game injury layoff to set up Colby Armstrong's first two goals of the season, and the Penguins held on to beat the Islanders on Tuesday.

Chris Thorburn, normally a checking line forward, scored the winner 36 seconds into the third period with a seemingly harmless shot from behind the net that banked off goalie Rick DiPietro's left skate for his second goal.

Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 33 of 35 shots, 13 in the final period, as Pittsburgh halted a three-game skid. The Islanders had won three in a row and were 6-1-1 in their previous eight games but were without leading scorer Alexei Yashin. He is expected to be out two to four weeks with a sprained knee.

Crosby hadn't played since Nov. 20 because of a sore groin after previously missing only one game in his two-season NHL career. He didn't take long to make a difference in an offense that was limited to five goals in the three losses, making a strong pass in traffic to create Armstrong's first goal 1-1/2 minutes into the game.

The Islanders missed tying it by an inch with about four minutes remaining, as a sprawling Marc-Andre Fleury and Nils Ekman teamed to swat away Andy Hilbert's shot as it sat on the goal line.

"I thought it was between my legs, but then I heard the crowd yell and I thought, that's not good," Fleury said. "We got a lucky break on that."

Senators 4

Hurricanes 1

RALEIGH, N.C. - Martin Gerber stopped 29 shots in his return to Raleigh.

Mike Fisher had a goal and an assist, and Christoph Schubert, Patrick Eaves and Chris Neil also scored for the Senators, who have won five of six.

Gerber, in his only season with Carolina, set the franchise record with 38 victories in 2005-06 before he was supplanted in the playoffs by Cam Ward, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy and led Carolina to its first Stanley Cup.

Gerber, who signed a three-year, $11.1-million deal with Ottawa in the offseason, made his first appearance at the RBC Center a success by stopping the final 28 shots.

Andrew Ladd scored for the Hurricanes, who have lost three of four.

Former Lightning goalie John Grahame, making his third straight start and first with Carolina at the RBC Center, stopped 32 shots but was under siege throughout.

Bruins 4

Maple Leafs 1

TORONTO - Tim Thomas made a season-high 45 saves and the Bruins swept a two-game series in Toronto.

Shean Donovan, Glen Murray, Marco Sturm and Brad Boyes scored for the Bruins, who won 3-1 at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday. Thomas was solid in that one and steady throughout Tuesday.

Boston won despite being outshot 46-24. Murray scored the winner at 5:35 of the third.

Canadiens 1

Panthers 0

Canadiens won shootout, 2-1

MONTREAL - Cristobal Huet stopped two of three shots in the shootout and Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu converted their opportunities for the Canadiens.

Both goalies kept the game scoreless through regulation as Alex Auld recorded his second career shutout, and first in more than three years, despite losing the game.

In the shootout, Huet stopped Olli Jokkinen and Joe Nieuwendyk on the Panthers' final two shots for his sixth straight win, reducing his goals-against average to 1.93 and raising his save percentage to .943, both NHL bests.

Thrashers 5

Rangers 4

NEW YORK - Bobby Holik scored his second goal of the game against his former team 2:55 into overtime, and Marian Hossa broke out of a slump with a goal and three assists for the Thrashers.

The Rangers tied it on Michael Nylander's power-play goal with 2:30 left in regulation.

Sharks 2

Blues 0

ST. LOUIS - Vesa Toskala stopped 29 shots for his second shutout of the season and Joe Pavelski, recalled from AHL Worcester on Nov. 22, scored his second goal in three games for the Sharks.

Manny Legace made 25 saves for the Blues, who have one goal the past two games. St. Louis had one shot on three power plays and is in a 2-for-41 slump the past 13 games.

San Jose's Mike Grier banged his head hard into the boards after his skates became tangled with the Blues' Jeff Woywitka. He returned to action.

Gaborik practicing

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Marian Gaborik is back at practice, but the Wild is maintaining a cautious approach toward his return to the lineup.

Gaborik, who strained a groin muscle in a game Oct. 20 and has not played since, skated with the team Monday for the first time since the injury and did so again in a short practice on Tuesday.

Because Gaborik's groin has been problematic in the past, the Wild has been careful about bringing him back. Minnesota, 3-8 this month, was without the right wing for 17 games last season because of a similar injury.

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