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POTVIN SETTLES IN AND HELPS KARIYA GIVE CANUCKS MANY REASONS TO CELEBRATE

The Vancouver Canucks unveiled their new goalie on Steve Kariya's birthday.

Felix Potvin, acquired Sunday in a trade with the New York Islanders, was brought out west to try and cure the Canucks' problems in goal.

Potvin made 31 saves Wednesday night and ended his own eight-game winless stretch (0-6-2) in Vancouver's 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals.

"No doubt, there was a bit of nervousness," Potvin said. "But once I got into it -- that's the best part about it -- it all went away."

Kariya celebrated his 22nd birthday with two goals to snap his 13-game scoring drought and give Potvin a win for the first time since Nov. 19.

"It was great win for us and hopefully it'll turn things around and we can kind of relax a bit going into the holidays," said Kariya, whose ice time dropped while his slump grew longer.

The Canucks won for the first time in eight games and second in 14.

After giving up three goals on the first 12 shots he faced, including the first goal by James Black on a breakaway 1:17 into the game, Potvin settled down.

"It was important to not let them jump to a two-goal lead, so I just tried to focus on the puck," Potvin said.

In the third period, he kept Washington scoreless despite four power-play opportunities and a 13-2 shots advantage.

Kariya's performance ignited the Canucks' best offensive output in more than two months and snapped a string of 12 straight games in which Vancouver failed to score three or more goals in regulation.

"That's what we need from him," Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said of Kariya. "When he gets those chances, to be almost like the alligator or the crocodile and really sense that scoring bug. Tonight, I saw him go into a feeding frenzy. He really wanted to score."

Nolan boosts league-leading numbers

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Owen Nolan is confident in his scoring abilities these days.

Nolan's power-play goal at 8:51 of the second period gave the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

It was Nolan's 26th goal of the season and 12th on the power play, both league-leading totals. His 51 points are second in the league, four behind Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr.

"Right now, it seems like the puck has a chance of going in every time I touch it," said Nolan, who has 29 points in 20 games and has scored in 10 of 11.

"What can you say about the guy? Everything he has touched is gold," said goalie Steve Shields, the former Buffalo Sabre who stopped 32 shots for the Sharks. "It's a good thing he's playing the way he is. We'd be a few wins shorter if he wasn't around."

Kings coach Andy Murray praised Shields.

"He was outstanding," Murray said. "Our guys did everything right out there. We had some great scoring chances, but Shields stopped nearly everything. We had five or six outstanding chances on our power play, but we couldn't convert any and that was the difference."

Around the rinks

Brendan Shanahan scored a goal and assisted on another in the first period as the Red Wings defeated the Hurricanes, 4-1, for its fifth win in six games. Martin Lapointe also had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings, who have won nine of 11 games this month. . . . Andrew Brunette scored with 43 seconds left in regulation and ex-Sabre Dean Sylvester tallied two goals as the Thrashers rallied for a 3-3 tie with the Panthers. Sylvester's second goal of the night at 7:38 pulled Atlanta to 3-2, and Brunette's back-hander past Mikhail Shtalenkov tied it on the power-play. . . . Patrik Elias had two goals and an assist and the Devils beat the Flyers once again on the Devils' home ice. Jason Arnott had a goal and Petr Sykora tied his career high with three assists as the Devils improved their home record against the Flyers in the 1990s to 21-5-2, including a 2-0 mark this season and 6-0-1 in their last seven home games. Off the ice, John McMullen, the owner of the Devils, is considering an offer by the holding company that owns the New Jersey Nets and New York Yankees to purchase the NHL team, Fox Sports Net reported. . . . Greg Adams scored twice in a five-goal third period by the Coyotes, and Jyrki Lumme had three assists as Phoenix ended the Mighty Ducks' four-game winning streak. Shane Doan and Adams scored on the Coyotes' first two shots against relief goalie Dominic Roussel, who played the final period after Guy Hebert left with neck spasms.

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