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Chronic back pain leads Nieuwendyk to retire

Panthers forward Joe Nieuwendyk retired Wednesday after three seasons of back problems, ending a 20-year career.

Nieuwendyk, 40, who won three Stanley Cups and Olympic gold with Canada in 2002, missed 14 of Florida's first 29 games this season and decided to retire when doctors told him that his back wouldn't improve.

"I've gone against doctors' decisions in the past," he told the Miami Herald. "But I think I've reached the stage that structurally, my back isn't going to get any better."

The center's 564 goals are 19th all-time. His 1,126 points (with 562 assists) were eighth among active players. And his 66 goals in 158 playoff games were third among active players.

In 1987-88, Nieuwendyk scored 51 goals, at the time only the second to score 50 in his first full season, and was named rookie of the year. He spent nine seasons with Calgary, helping it win its only Stanley Cup in 1989, before being traded Dec. 19, 1995, to Dallas in a deal that included current Flames star Jarome Iginla.

In 1999, Nieuwendyk scored a league-high 11 goals to win the Conn Smythe and lead the Stars to their only Cup. Nieuwendyk later played for the Devils (winning the Cup in 2003) and Maple Leafs before he and childhood friend Gary Roberts signed with the Panthers before 2005-06.

"Not everybody has a storybook way of how they want it to go," he told the Herald. "But I have so much to be thankful for with the experiences I've had.''

OILERS: The No. 11 jersey of Mark Messier will be retired before the Feb. 27 game against the Coyotes, who are coached by ex-teammate Wayne Gretzky. Messier led Edmonton to five Stanley Cups, four with Gretzky, over seven seasons.

Capitals 2 1 3 6

Senators 0 1 1 2

WASHINGTON - The Capitals won their fourth in a row and third in a row at home for the first time since Feb. 24-March 2, 2003. Just 1:19 after the Senators cut it to 3-2 in the third, Washington's Alexander Semin deked goalie Antoine Vermette and scored on a power play.

Oilers 0 2 1 3

Hurricanes 0 1 0 1

EDMONTON - Jason Smith's first goal of the season broke a second-period tie in a rematch of June's Cup final.

Devils 0 0 1 1 2

Canadiens 1 0 0 0 1

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Patrik Elias scored with 7.3 seconds left. Zach Parise tied it for the Devils with 5:48 left off a rebound of Scott Gomez's shot. In overtime, Gomez won a faceoff, and Elias' shot from the point went in just under the crossbar.

Stars 1 1 1 3

Coyotes 0 0 0 0

DALLAS - Marty Turco's 25 saves gave the Stars consecutive shutouts for the first time since 2000-01. Turco's 25 saves beat Phoenix 1-0 on Monday. Sergei Zubov and Philippe Boucher scored on five-on-threes in the first and third, respectively.

Ducks 1 1 2 4

Predators 0 0 0 0

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 21 saves for his fourth shutout of the season. Nashville lost its third in a row, matching a season high. It was 17-2-2 in between the streaks.

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