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EXTRA WORK PAYS FOR FOUR OT WINNERS

Half of the NHL's winners worked a little extra time to get a victory.

The New Jersey Devils got some help from the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night in their 5-4 overtime win.

The Washington Capitals joined New Jersey with a 3-2 overtime victory over Pittsburgh, the Dallas Stars beat the New York Rangers 4-3 and the Philadelphia Flyers won 3-2 against Vancouver.

New Jersey's win was the strangest.

Bruins defensemen Ray Bourque and Don Sweeney collided, allowing Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora to come in alone on Bruins goalie Byron Dafoe. Elias got a pass from Sykora and beat the defenseless Dafoe -- 19 seconds into overtime -- for his second goal of the night and eighth in nine games.

"I don't know if I've seen a play like that in 10 years on my team," center Bobby Holik said after the Devils extended the Bruins' winless streak to five games (0-4-1). "The defenseman are still trying to untie their skates."

This loss hurt, though. The Bruins, who have only two wins in 14 games (2-8-4), rallied three times to tie the game, the last on Joe Murphy's goal on a scramble in front with 2:11 to play.

Murphy's goal earned them one point for the regulation tie, but the way the Bruins allowed the game-winner was the main topic of conversation.

"I wasn't going to go all the way over and he (Sweeney) thought I was going to cross over," said Bourque, who scored the Bruins' first goal. "We kind of met and collided. It's just the way things have been going. We can't catch a break."

Kings dethroned

DENVER -- A six-game losing streak has done more than send the Los Angeles Kings into the Pacific Division cellar.

The slump that began after a Dec. 11 victory at Montreal has damaged the team's psyche and sent the players searching for answers.

"Sometimes, a losing streak gets you to start thinking, 'Oh, here we go again,' " Kings defenseman Mattias Norstrom said. "Yet, there isn't a simple solution to getting us back on a winning track."

The Kings' December futility stretched a length further in a 4-2 loss, their sixth in a row, and the month's ledger fell to 2-7-2-1.

Luc Robitaille scored both of the Kings' goals, his third and fourth in the last 11 games. Ziggy Palffy had two assists, his first since Nov. 24.

As for defenseman Rob Blake . . .

"I was terrible," he said flatly.

Blake was on the ice for all four Avalanche goals, and the first, scored by Rolston, deflected into the net off Blake's leg while he was backing toward goalie Stephane Fiset.

Stars scuffle past Rangers

DALLAS -- Last season, the Dallas Stars were dominant at home, compiling a 29-8-4 record at Reunion Arena en route to a Stanley Cup.

But things aren't as easy this season. The Stars are scuffling to score goals, and the fans are booing. Dallas needed an overtime goal from Jamie Langenbrunner on Wednesday night to beat the New York Rangers, 4-3.

The Rangers, who scored the game's first two goals, sent the game into overtime on Theo Fleury's goal with 7:58 left in the third period.

"It's been a frustrating place for us to play," center Mike Modano said after the Stars improved to 9-8-1 at home. "The fans let their feelings be known, but we've got to stick to our game. When we put too much flair in our game, that's when we get into trouble."

Langenbrunner admitted his goal with 1:43 left in overtime was a lucky one.

"I had no idea it even went in," Langenbrunner said. "I was just throwing it at the net to see what happens, trying to get a tip for Mully (Kirk Muller)."

Owner nixes Primeau deal

RALEIGH -- Keith Primeau, idled this year by a contract dispute with the Carolina Hurricanes, nearly was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes, but Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos blocked the deal.

The trade would have sent Primeau, an unnamed minor-league player and two draft picks to the Phoenix Coyotes for either All-Star center Jeremy Roenick or All-Star left winger Keith Tkachuk.

Roenick, 29, is the Coyotes' leading scorer this season with 46 points in 32 games. He is making $4.2 million. Tkachuk, the Coyotes' 27-year-old captain, has 30 points in 32 games and is being paid $4.3 million this season.

Primeau, 28, would have received $16.9 million over four years from the Coyotes, according to his co-agent, Don Reynolds.

Karmanos said in a recent interview that he would spike any trade if he thought the team getting Primeau would pay "too much money."

"What another team offers to pay Primeau would affect what I would have to pay a player in arbitration," Karmanos said at the time.

Around the rinks

Adam Oates knocked in a rebound with 27.4 seconds left in overtime to give the Capitals their 3-2 victory over the Penguins. Pittsburgh goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin stopped Steve Konowalchuk's shot from the left wing, but Oates poked at the loose puck several times and finally flipped a backhander over the prone goalie. . . . Igor Kravchuk, Mike Fisher and Shaun Van Allen scored in the second period to lift the Senators to a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens. The Senators have lost only once in nine games (4-1-4). The Canadiens had a three-game unbeaten streak snapped. . . . Sergei Berezin scored 1:38 into the game and Jonus Hoglund added an empty-netter with 1:04 left as the Maple Leafs edged the Islanders, 2-1, for their sixth straight victory. Curtis Joseph lost his shutout when Dave Scatchard scored at 19:33 of the third. Toronto puts its winning streak on the line in Marine Midland Arena on Saturday against the Sabres. . . . Jarome Iginla ended a 10-game scoreless drought with a goal and an assist as the Flames beat the Mighty Ducks, 3-1. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 32 saves for Calgary. Calgary Flames left wing Cory Stillman, who is second on the team with 12 goals, will undergo shoulder surgery on Friday and is out indefinitely. Defenseman Phil Housley signed a two-year contract with an option for the 2002-03 season with the Flames that is voidable by either side. Financial terms were not disclosed but the deal will keep Housley, 35, from free agency after the season. . . . Adam Burt's unassisted goal, 2:34 into overtime, gave the Flyers a 3-2 win over the Canucks. . . . Coyotes left wing Greg Adams is scheduled to undergo nasal surgery today and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.

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