Best of NHL: Rangers stay hot with 2-1 win over Capitals

Best of NHL: Rangers stay hot with 2-1 win over Capitals

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored a third-period goal and Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves, powering the Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Capitals on Sunday.

Ryan McDonagh scored in the first period for New York, which has won seven of eight overall and five in a row at home.

Alex Ovechkin scored a second-period power-play goal for Washington. The first-place Capitals lost their second straight after a six-game winning streak. Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves for Washington.

Tied 1-1 entering the third period, Grubauer made two saves on Jimmy Vesey. Lundqvist answered with a nice glove stop on John Carlson's slap shot about seven minutes into the period.

Zuccarello broke the tie after Mika Zibanejad won a faceoff in the Washington zone and sent a pass to Chris Kreider. Kreider passed to Zuccarello, who beat Grubauer for his 12th of the season at 8:37 (see full recap).

Marchand's OT goal gives Bruins victory over Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway with 2:24 left in overtime and the Boston Bruins picked up where they left off before their six-day bye with a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.

Ryan Spooner also scored for the Bruins, who improved to 4-0 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. Tuukka Rask made 29 saves.

Patrick Marleau scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who have lost six of eight games heading into their bye week. Four of those losses came in overtime and another in a shootout, giving San Jose nine points during the span. Martin Jones made 25 saves.

The winning play started on a faceoff in the Bruins' defensive zone. Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff back to Torey Krug, who sent a stretch pass up ice that Marchand retrieved behind the Sharks defense. He skated in all alone on Jones and beat him (see full recap).

Strome's 2 goals lead Isles over Devils
NEW YORK -- Ryan Strome had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 6-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.

John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Casey Cizikas and Jason Chimera also scored to help the Islanders improve to 9-0-2 in their last 11 at home. Jean-Francois Berube stopped 26 shots as New York pulled into a tie with Boston for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins were playing at San Jose.

Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists, Kyle Palmieri added a goal and an assist, and Miles Wood and Joseph Blandisi also scored for the Devils, who beat the Islanders 3-2 at home on Saturday night. Keith Kinkaid, starting for first time since Jan. 29, finished with 26 saves. New Jersey had won six straight on the road and were 8-0-1 in their last nine away from Prudential Center (see full recap).

Red Wings pull away in third to top Penguins
PITTSBURGH -- Tomas Tatar and Thomas Vanek scored early third-period goals to lead the Red Wings to a 5-2 victory against the Penguins on Sunday.

Nick Jensen and Steve Ott also scored and Luke Glendening added an empty-netter for the Red Wings, who completed a back-to-back sweep of Washington and Pittsburgh, two of the top teams in the league. Petr Mrazek made 24 saves for his second win in as many days, having lost his previous four games.

Detroit defeated Washington in a shootout at home Saturday and followed with the win at Pittsburgh, the NHL's best home team. It was the Red Wings' second victory against Pittsburgh this season.

Detroit, which lost five straight before the weekend victories, remained near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but within striking distance of the final playoff spot.

Sidney Crosby scored his league-leading 32nd goal and Tom Kuhnhackl added his third with the Penguins short-handed. The Penguins lost in regulation for the first time since the All-Star break (see full recap)

Best of NHL: Wild beat Red Wings as Detroit's Nyquist faces long suspension

Best of NHL: Wild beat Red Wings as Detroit's Nyquist faces long suspension

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Zach Parise and the Minnesota Wild have beaten teams a lot of ways this season. On Sunday, the Detroit Red Wings gave one of the league's best power plays too many chances.

Parise scored twice and Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves to help the Western Conference-leading Wild beat the Red Wings 6-3.

The Wild scored three power-play goals in four chances, including two in the first period as they jumped to a 2-0 lead. Minnesota's power play is tops in the NHL at home, converting 30.1 percent of its opportunities at Xcel Energy Center.

"We were in the box a little bit too much today," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "I thought they made some fine darn plays on the power play and it's hard to be down like that."

Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter scored with the man advantage in the first period. Parise then capped the scoring with a power-play goal in the third. The three power-play goals, he noted, led to a deceiving final score.

"It was a tough game," Parise said. "They do a good job in the D-zone. They're in your face a lot and they make it pretty tough. But we got the power-play goals and that was the difference."

Charlie Coyle added a goal and an assist for the Wild, who have points in five straight games. They lead second-place Chicago by five points and have played two fewer games than the Blackhawks.

Anthony Mantha had a goal and an assist for Detroit, Zetterberg and Andreas Athanasiou also scored, and Jared Coreau made 23 saves. The Red Wings have lost four straight and have the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

"It's hard to win when you give up two on the (penalty kill) in the first like that," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "I thought 5-on-5 we did tons of good stuff."

Niederreiter's goal came with Gustav Nyquist in the penalty box for high-sticking defenseman Jared Spurgeon in the face. Spurgeon had knocked Nyquist to the ice from behind near the side boards, and Nyquist came up swinging, using the blade of his stick to spear Spurgeon just below his left eye (see full recap).

Predators rally from 3-goal deficit to beat Stars
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Filip Forsberg scored a short-handed goal 6:02 into the third period and the Nashville Predators rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Dallas Stars 5-3 on Sunday night.

Roman Josi scored twice, Calle Jarnkrok got the tying goal 4:40 into the third and Mike Fisher added an empty-netter with 1:38 left. James Neal and P.K. Subban each had two assists, and Nashville snapped a two-game skid.

The Predators can breathe a little easier during their upcoming five-day break after avoiding a second loss in two days on home ice. Embarrassed in a 7-4 defeat to Florida on Saturday, they came out feisty from the opening faceoff, only to give up the first three goals.

Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist, Patrick Sharp and Devin Shore had a goal apiece and Tyler Seguin had three assists. Dallas has lost five of six (see full recap).

Burns scores twice as Sharks top Devils
NEWARK, N.J. -- Brent Burns, the NHL's leading offensive defenseman, scored two goals as the San Jose Sharks snapped a season high four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist for the Sharks and Kevin Labanc added two assists. Tomas Hertl had an empty-net tally late in the third period.

Martin Jones made 21 saves as San Jose bounced back from a 2-1 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.

PA Parenteau scored for the Devils and Corey Schneider made 34 stops as New Jersey lost for the eighth time in the last nine home games.

Burns wiped out the Devils' lead with a pair of second-period tallies. He has 24 goals and 59 points to pace all blueliners (see full recap).

Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch dies at 87

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Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch dies at 87

DETROIT – Mike Ilitch, founder of the Little Caesars Pizza empire and owner of the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers, has died. He was 87.

Ilitch, who was praised for keeping his professional hockey and baseball teams in Detroit as other urban sports franchises relocated to new suburban stadiums, died Friday at a hospital in Detroit, according to family spokesman Doug Kuiper.

Ilitch and his wife, Marian, founded Little Caesars in suburban Detroit in 1959, and eventually grew the business into the world's largest carry-out pizza chain with several spin-off companies. Under his ownership and open checkbook, the Red Wings soared back to stability and won four Stanley Cup championships, and the Tigers -- who'd scouted a young Ilitch in the 1940s -- made it to the World Series.

He was as much a fan of the often-struggling Detroit as he was of sports. When approached in 2009 by organizers of the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, Ilitch agreed to sponsor the annual college football bowl game despite a poor local economy. The game was renamed the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

"It's a sporting event, and we need sporting events," Ilitch said at the time. "It picks our community up to no end, with all the great colleges we have in this state and the professional teams that we have. Thank God for `em, especially at times that are rough right now."

The son of Macedonian immigrants, Ilitch was born on July 20, 1929. He played baseball at Detroit's Cooley High School and was signed by his hometown Tigers after his four-year stint in the U.S. Marines, spending three years in the team's farm system before a knee injury ended his playing career.

But he found his niche in business. His family's companies had combined revenues of $2.4 billion in 2011.

It started with that first Little Caesars restaurant in Garden City, a working-class suburb west of Detroit. A food service distribution company soon followed to supply ingredients and other products for the growing number of restaurants. Blue Line Foodservice grew into one of the largest program account food service distribution companies in the U.S.

Ilitch Holdings Inc. was established in 1999 to manage the family's interests in food, sports and entertainment, and the company remained family focused. His son, Christopher, was president and CEO, while his wife, Marian, was vice chairwoman as well as sole owner of MotorCity Casino, one of Detroit's three casinos.

Ilitch broke into sports ownership in 1982, when he paid a reported $8 million for the struggling Red Wings. Once a National Hockey League powerhouse, the team had bottomed out to mediocrity, but it began winning again under Ilitch. The Red Wings took home the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008.

Ilitch was inducted into the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, and into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and Michigan Sports Hall of Fame a year later.

"Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch are incredibly passionate about Detroit and their teams," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told The Associated Press in a 2010 interview. "They create a family atmosphere with stability, loyalty and a personal touch. But we all understand we have to produce to be around for a long time."

As part of his long-term plan to build a Detroit-based business empire, Ilitch also bought Olympia Entertainment, which manages several restaurants, sports and entertainment venues, in 1982.

Husband and wife bought the downtown Fox Theatre five years later and started a massive, $12 million restoration. It reopened a year later and became a lucrative venue for musicals, plays and other productions. The Little Caesars world headquarters also was moved downtown.

Then, in 1992, the man who once dreamed of playing for the Detroit Tigers bought the team for $85 million. He moved it in 2000 from the storied but fading Tiger Stadium to Comerica Park, across from the Fox Theatre.

Unlike previous owners of both sports franchises, Ilitch opened his checkbook to sign top players -- finding solid success in hockey, and a rollercoaster in baseball.

The Tigers lost an American League record 119 games in 2003, but advanced to the World Series three years later, losing in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals. Near the end of a disappointing 2008 season, Ilitch said he and the team would review everything done to put the roster together but focusing on the $138 million payroll wasn't the priority.

"I'm not afraid to go out and spend money," he said. "It's been very costly, but I'm not going to change my ways."

The Tigers made the American League playoffs in 2011, a return to winning that brought more fans to Comerica Park.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Ilitch was simply driven to win.

"He has a good feel for sports, baseball in particular, and that's always good when you're working for someone like that," Dombrowski said in 2010, shortly after Ilitch announced he would try to buy the Detroit Pistons. Ilitch had jumped in amid speculation another buyer might move the pro basketball team.

"When I read in the paper there was the chance that this great sports town could lose one of its professional sports franchises, I just didn't see how we could let that happen," Ilitch told The Associated Press in 2010. "The Pistons, just like the Red Wings, Tigers and the (Detroit) Lions, have a rich and storied tradition in this community."

California billionaire and Michigan State University graduate Tom Gores eventually bought the Pistons and kept the team at its stadium in Auburn Hills, north of Detroit.

Ilitch's admiration of Detroit also was put on display in 2009, when General Motors -- struggling under the threat of bankruptcy -- discontinued its sponsorship of the popular General Motors Fountain at Comerica Park. Instead of selling the space to other bidders, Ilitch gave the advertising spot to each of the area's car companies that season at no cost.

"He cares about the city of Detroit. This is something he wanted to do. It's for the Big Three," Ron Colangelo, the Tigers' spokesman, said at the time.

Philanthropy always was a major focus. In 1985, he established the Little Caesars Love Kitchen, a restaurant on wheels to feed the hungry and help with food distribution following national disasters.

Ilitch founded the Little Caesars Veterans Program in 2006 to provide honorably discharged veterans the chance to own a Little Caesars franchise, and his Ilitch Charities invests in programs promoting economic and job growth. Contributions, sponsorships and in-kind donations from the Ilitch companies total more than $4 million per year.

Ilitch is survived by his wife, seven children and numerous grandchildren.