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OT Goal Sends Blackhawks Past Wild in Game 1

Chicago — Bryan Bickell scored in overtime on a two-on-one rush, and the Chicago Blackhawks started the playoffs on a winning note after dominating the regular season, beating the Minnesota Wild 2-1 last night.

Corey Crawford settled down after allowing a weak goal in the opening minutes. Marian Hossa also scored, and the Blackhawks took the early lead in this first-round series.

Game 2 is Friday at the United Center.

The Blackhawks finally put this one away when Johnny Oduya chipped the puck off the boards to Viktor Stahlberg on the right side. Stahlberg then dished it to Bickell on the two-on-one rush in front for the winner.

Blues 2, Kings 1 (ot)

St. Louis — Alex Steen stole the puck from goalie Jonathan Quick behind the net and scored a short-handed goal to give St. Louis a victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.

Steen scored unassisted on a backhander at 13:26 of overtime less than a minute after Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was whistled for a double-minor high sticking when he cut Dustin Penner.

Steen also scored on a power play in the first period for the Blues, who ended an eight-game losing streak against the team that swept them in the second round last spring.

Quick, last year’s Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP, made 35 saves in regulation, keeping the Kings in it for Justin Williams’ tying goal with 31.6 seconds left.

Ovechkin Heads in
Right Direction For Caps

Arlington, Va. — At first, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was not a huge fan of first-time NHL head coach Adam Oates’ attempt to move him from left wing to right wing.

“We tried it a couple of times,” Ovechkin said, reflecting on the start of the season as he prepares to face the visiting New York Rangers in Game 1 of their playoff series tomorrow night. “I didn’t feel comfortable there.”

So Oates temporarily relented and switched Ovechkin back to the left side for a handful of games, putting the two-time league MVP on a line with little-used players, as if to send the message: Are you sure this is what you want?

That didn’t last long. Ovechkin agreed to give Oates’ experiment another try.

“I’m glad I did,” Ovechkin said. “And I’m glad it worked.”

Certainly can’t argue with the results. By scoring 22 times in the last 21 regular-season games, Ovechkin ended up leading the league with 32 goals in a lockout-shortened schedule — his third Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, but first since 2009. He also helped push the Capitals to the Southeast Division title even though they won only two of their first 11 games.

“Right now,” Ovechkin said, “I feel probably the same way I feel on the left side.”

Yes, after two seasons in which he was no longer the score-at-will superstar he had been earlier in his career, Alexander the Great is back.

A headache for opponents to deal with, and one of the main reasons the Capitals feel they’ve got a chance to win any game.

Rolston Retires

Toronto — Brian Rolston retired after a 17-year NHL career in which he played for five teams and helped the New Jersey Devils win their first Stanley Cup.

The 40-year-old forward from Flint, Mich., did not play this season after splitting time with the New York Islanders and Boston in 2011-12.

As a rookie he helped the Devils win the Cup in the 1994-95 season.

He also played for Colorado and Minnesota and completed his career with 342 goals, 419 assists and 761 points. His top offensive season was 2005-06 with the Wild — 34 goals and 45 assists.