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COYOTES WIN FIRST UNDER GRETZKY

The Phoenix Coyotes were like little kids before their game Friday night. Can you blame them?

With new owner Wayne Gretzky on hand evaluating the talent, the Coyotes shook off a case of the nerves to beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0.

"He's undefeated. We're undefeated under this new (ownership) group," Phoenix coach Bob Francis said of Gretzky as the Coyotes went 10 games over .500 for the third time this season.

"This is a good way to start," Francis added. "The guys obviously wanted to make a good impression."

Phoenix generated just 18 shots on Carolina backup goalie Tyler Moss and was 0 for 4 on the power play, but Keith Tkachuk's goal and Robert Esche's second career shutout was enough to give the Coyotes their fourth win in five games.

"Just being around him before the game was great," Tkachuk said of the Great One.

Esche stopped 33 shots, 13 in the third period, as the Hurricanes gave up a short-handed empty-net goal to Mike Sullivan, shot from his own faceoff circle with 33 seconds left.

Gretzky and managing partner Steve Ellman completed their purchase of the Coyotes on Thursday and then the NHL's career scoring leader flew to North Carolina to watch his new club.

While Phoenix improved to 22-0-6 when leading after two, the Hurricanes fell to 1-5 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena since a nine-game home unbeaten streak in January.

Tkachuk scored his team-leading 25th of the season from the slot with 6:14 left in the second period. The captain's goal was just the 10th shot on Moss as the Coyotes generated few scoring chances.

"He was almost on his toes and I didn't think he was going to get a good shot away, and he roofed it," Moss said of Tkachuk's game-winner. "That's probably why he's a 50-goal scorer."

Tkachuk's goal came three minutes after Carolina defenseman David Tanabe had a pair of great scoring chances from in close, then poked the puck past Esche, who started his third straight game in place of injured Sean Burke (bruised knee). But the referees lost sight of the puck and Tanabe's goal was disallowed.

The Hurricanes, as part of an ongoing league-wide recognition of Gretzky, honored him between the first and second periods by hanging a banner that read "Gretzky 99 Forever."

"If I would have known you were going to be this nice I would have brought my skates," Gretzky told the crowd of 13,812.

Brodeur preserves tie

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On a night where he gave up four goals, Martin Brodeur still had Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr shaking their heads in disbelief.

Brodeur made unbelievable pad saves on Jagr and Lemieux within seconds of each other in overtime, allowing the New Jersey Devils to post a 4-4 tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Stopping the best two players in the world back to back feels pretty good," said Brodeur, who made 21 saves.

Petr Sykora, who scored the Devils' first two goals, forced overtime by stealing the puck behind the net and setting up Jason Arnott's game-tying goal with 4:01 left in regulation.

However, everyone was talking about Brodeur's two saves in the first minute of overtime.

Jagr got the first chance to win it, taking a pass from Lemieux to set up a breakaway. Jagr made a couple of moves but the goalie slammed his pad against the right post to stop his shot.

The rebound came out to Lemieux, who appeared to have an open left side of the net. But Brodeur slid across and got that shot with his left pad.

"He made all the saves tonight," said Lemieux, whose 20th goal in 21 games appeared to be the game-winner early in the third period. "I was surprised at how quick he got up and got back into position. I thought I was quick enough to get the far side. He made a great save."

As the puck went back up ice, Jagr, who extended his league-high scoring streak to 16 games, leaned over to Brodeur and said:

"You've got to be kidding," Brodeur recalled.

Devils right wing Alexander Mogilny will be sidelined almost a week with a pulled stomach muscle. Mogilny will not accompany the Devils for games at Buffalo tonight and Toronto on Monday.

Sharks await decision

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks hope to find out today whether NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will reduce captain Owen Nolan's 11-game suspension.

Nolan, San Jose General Manager Dean Lombardi and team president Greg Jamison pleaded their case to NHL officials for 2 1/2 hours during an appeal hearing Friday. Bettman told the Sharks he planned to reach a decision this weekend.

League discipline chief Colin Campbell suspended Nolan last week for his Feb. 1 hit on Dallas forward Grant Marshall, who received a concussion and was hospitalized overnight.

If the 11-game ban is upheld, Nolan won't be eligible to return until March 1.

On the ice Friday, Patrick Marleau had a goal and an assist as the Sharks beat Nashville, 2-0, to extend their NHL-best road unbeaten streak to 10.

Evgeni Nabokov made 19 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and fifth of his career. San Jose has shutouts in three of its last four games.

Around the rinks

Pavel Bure scored his eighth goal in three games and added an assist as the Panthers earned their first three-game winning streak this season with a 2-1 victory the Bruins. Boston's Bill Guerin scored his 30th goal, tying a career high. . . . Rick DiPietro, the first goalie ever drafted No. 1, made 24 saves in his first NHL victory, and Roman Hamrlik had a goal and two assists as the Islanders ended a six-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Oilers. . . . Derian Hatcher's goal with 3:25 left in overtime lifted the Stars to a 3-2 victory over the Mighty Ducks. . . . Ziggy Palffy had a goal and two assists and Jamie Storr made 21 saves for his fourth shutout of the season as the Kings beat the Wild, 4-0. . . . Vyacheslav Kozlov scored twice as the Red Wings beat the Blue Jackets, 4-2, extending their home-winning streak to six games and their unbeaten streak there to 10 games. . . . Steve Sullivan scored a goal and added two assists as the Blackhawks earned their first home victory in nearly a month, beating the Blues, 6-2.

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