RALEIGH, N.C. – Alexander Steen scored with 6 minutes remaining to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night in coach Paul Maurice’s return to Raleigh.

Mats Sundin had two goals and an assist, and Bryan McCabe added a goal and an assist for Toronto, which blew a 3-1 lead in the third period but pulled away for its second straight victory since snapping a season-worst seven-game losing streak.

About 3 minutes after Carolina tied it at 3, the Maple Leafs worked the puck to Steen in the right slot and he snapped it past Cam Ward from about 15 feet away.

The Hurricanes pulled Ward in the final minute but couldn’t convert in the closing moments against Andrew Raycroft.

Erik Cole, Justin Williams and Mike Commodore scored for Carolina, which lost its fifth straight.

Raycroft made 29 saves for Toronto, which snapped a four-game road losing streak and made Maurice a winner in his first trip to Tobacco Road since he was fired by the Hurricanes exactly three years ago.

Penguins 7, Islanders 4

PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby assisted on two of Ryan Malone’s three goals and scored his 16th goal to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to their fourth straight victory, 7-4 over the New York Islanders on Friday night.

The 19-year-old Crosby, the NHL scoring leader, had a goal and five assists in his previous game, an 8-4 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

Jason Blake, Tom Poti, Miroslav Satan and Mike York each had a goal and an assist for New York.

Mark Recchi, Jordan Staal and Maxime Talbot also scored for Pittsburgh.

Capitals 3, Thrashers 2

ATLANTA – Alex Ovechkin scored his third goal of the game 6 seconds into overtime to power the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night.

Ovechkin stole an apparent victory from Atlanta by scoring the tying goal with only 30 seconds left in regulation. He took the puck from Niclas Havelid following the faceoff to open overtime and scored the unassisted goal.

The hat trick gave the Washington star 21 goals for the season.

Jean-Pierre Vigier gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead with less than 6 minutes left in regulation.

The Thrashers suffered their fourth straight loss and fell to 4-1 against Washington this season.

Avalanche 4, Oilers 1

DENVER – John-Michael Liles and Wojtek Wolski scored second-period goals and the Colorado Avalanche won their third straight, 4-1 over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.

Milan Hejduk and Tyler Arnason also had goals for Colorado. Joe Sakic extended his point streak to five games with two assists, and Brett Clark added two assists.

Peter Budaj stopped 18 shots in recording his third win in as many games. It’s Colorado’s first three-game winning streak of the season.

The win moved the Avalanche into a second-place tie with idle Minnesota.

Marc-Antoine Pouliot got his first goal of the season and only his second goal in 17 career games, and Dwayne Roloson stopped 12 of 16 shots for Edmonton, losers in three of four.

Edmonton failed to convert on five power plays. Colorado’s power play was 0-for-4 against the NHL’s top penalty killing unit.

AP-ES-12-15-06 2332EST


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