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Pens playing hot hockey in post-Mario era

The Pittsburgh Penguins are proving that there is life after Mario Lemieux.

Despite the retirement of one of hockey's greatest players, the Penguins have suddenly become one of the NHL's hottest teams. They stretched their unbeaten streak to six games Wednesday night with a 5-2 victory at San Jose.The Penguins, despite the loss of Lemieux and the absence of contract holdout Petr Nedved, are 5-0-1 in their last six games. Their early-season surge has carried the Penguins (6-3-2) into a virtual three-way tie with Boston and Ottawa for first place in the Northeast Division.

Eddie Olczyk scored the go-ahead goal with 13:02 remaining and Andreas Johansson added an empty-net score with 46 seconds left for the Penguins.

The victory gave former Sharks coach Constantine a win in his first trip to San Jose since taking over as Pittsburgh coach in June.

Avalanche 4, Capitals 3

Wade Belak scored his first NHL goal with 72 seconds remaining, lifting Colorado over visiting Washington.

The 100th consecutive sellout crowd of 16,061 at McNichols Arena erupted when Adam Deadmarsh slid the puck from the left side of the ice to the opposite post, where Belak fought off a defender long enough to beat goaltender Olaf Kolzig from point-blank range.

Sabres 4, Flames 1

At Buffalo, Brian Holzinger scored two power-play goals to lead the Sabres over Calgary.

Buffalo goaltender Dominik Hasek, last season's most valuable player in the NHL, stopped 17 shots in his first win since Oct. 9 in a game against Washington. Calgary's Rick Tabaracci also made 17 saves, but was victimized for three goals in six power-play shots.

Hurricanes 4, Blues 3

Carolina, off to the franchise's worst start ever, beat visiting St. Louis with two second-period goals 48 seconds apart.

The Hurricanes, who came into the game with a 1-7-2 record and a slumping offense, fell behind 2-1 before rallying with a second-period flurry. That helped break the Blues' eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1).

Canadiens 3, Panthers 0

Jocelyn Thibault stopped 26 shots to record his sixth career shutout to lead the Montreal Canadiens to their first home victory of the season.

Thibault, in his third start and fourth appearance this season, stopped 14 third-period shots and recorded his first shutout as Montreal avoided matching its worst home start since the 1941-42 season. The Canadiens opened that season with an 0-4-1 record.

Senators 6, Leafs 2

At Toronto, Shawn McEachern scored three goals and linemate Alexei Yashin added two as Ottawa defeated the Maple Leafs.

The Senators have won four straight games, while Toronto slipped to 2-6-1 and is winless in four home games this season.

Blackhawks 1, Rangers 0

Eric Daze scored the game's only goal and Chris Terreri stopped 31 shots as Chicago beat New York in a game delayed by an injury to Wayne Gretzky's wife.

Janet Gretzky was injured when a pane of Plexiglas from the sideboards at Madison Square Garden was knocked loose by a player and hit her in the head.

Red Wings 4, Mighty Ducks 1

Rookie Mike Knuble scored twice and Jamie Pushor and Mathieu Dandeneault each had two assists as visiting Detroit beat Anaheim.

The defending Stanley Cup champions, who outlasted the Ducks in overtime in three of the four games of their Western Conference semifinal sweep last May, also got goals from Doug Brown and Martin Lapointe as they improved to 4-0 on the road and 7-1-2 overall.