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  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015
    Davidson, Miller lead Oilers past Avalanche
    By The Sports Xchange

    DENVER -- Defenseman Brandon Davidson and center Andrew Miller are making quite an impression on their new teammates.

    • Davidson scored his first NHL goal, Miller had three assists and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Monday night.

      Goaltender Richard Bachman followed up Friday's shutout with 29 saves while defensemen Justin Schultz and Nikita Niktin and left winger Taylor Hall also scored for the Oilers, who have won three straight.

      Davidson and Miller were big contributors in the sixth NHL game for both of them. Davidson got things rolling early on with his goal on a pass from Miller and the Oilers were in control for most of the game.

      "It's a great win for us," Davidson said. "We're on a little bit of a streak here and I'm glad I can be a part of it and contribute any way possible. It's exciting times in Oil country."

      Center Anton Lander had two assists for Edmonton.

      Center Ryan O'Reilly scored and goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 32 shots for the Avalanche, who did not commit a penalty for the second time this season.

      The loss was a near death blow to Colorado's postseason hopes. With six games left, the Avalanche trail Winnipeg by eight points for the second wild-card spot. They would have to pass the Jets -- as well as Los Angeles, Dallas and San Jose -- because all four squads hold the tiebreaker on the Avalanche.

      Colorado (35-29-12) is in the position because of a slow start to the season and two losses to Edmonton in the last week.

      "Tonight it didn't matter what team we were playing against and what history we have with them, we just didn't win enough battles and we just didn't compete hard enough," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "It's unacceptable."

      Colorado coach Patrick Roy wouldn't entertain the thought his team's playoff chances were done.

      "I won't answer that question," he said. "We are going to believe in ourselves until it's over. The day they're going to say it's over it'll be over. I'm going to push and that's all I'm thinking."

      The Oilers have long been out of the playoff hunt but they've played well of late in winning four of their last five.

      "The team's been real good the last couple of games," Bachman said. "The key is playing the right way. You can see guys are really starting to play for each other, and that's huge. You don't want to let the guy next to you down."

      Edmonton (23-40-13) looked like the team fighting for the playoffs in the first period and took a 1-0 lead just 4:49 into the game. Lander held the puck at the bottom of the right circle and found Davidson, who pinched down from left side. Davidson got the puck and beat Varlamov with a shot to the short side.

      "It was a beautiful pass from the corner," Davidson said. "I had to blink twice to make sure it was real. He was able to put it on my stick and I don't think I saw where it went in. The guys had to tell me just to make sure it went in."

      Colorado got the equalizer later in the first period. O'Reilly gave the puck to left winger Alex Tanguay and skated to the front of the net. Tanguay's shot from the slot trickled through defenseman Kevin Aulie and O'Reilly flicked the rebound past Bachman.

      It was O'Reilly's 15th of the season and extended his points streak to eight games.

      The teams traded chances in the second until Schultz made it 2-1 at 15:28 of the period. He got behind the Avalanche defensemen and lifted a backhand past Varlamov for his sixth of the season.

      Varlamov came off for an extra skater with 2:32 left and Niktin and Hall scored empty-net goals.

      NOTES: Avalanche D Erik Johnson is still out despite taking part in the past few morning skates. Johnson, who had arthroscopic knee surgery on Jan. 26, has missed 28 games. ... Edmonton G Richard Bachman played at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. ... Colorado RW Dennis Everberg passed the concussion protocol and was in the lineup. He didn't play in the third period Saturday after getting checked in the head late in the second period. ... Edmonton D Andrew Ference (concussion) and C Boyd Gordon (back) were out of the lineup for the third straight game. Defenseman Mark Fayne (shoulder) missed his second straight game.

  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015
    Sabres 4, Coyotes 1
    By The Sports Xchange

    GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Connor McDavid would be a great addition to the Buffalo lineup next season, assuming the Sabres can cash in on the league's best odds of landing the No. 1 pick in this June's NHL Draft.

    • If it's all the same, however, Sabres defenseman Andrej Meszaros would rather keep playing this season. Over the last two games, he's provided as much offense as Buffalo could ever expect from the presumed No. 1 pick.

      Meszaros scored a pair of goals to give him four in his last two games and the Sabres rallied to defeat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 on Monday at Gila River Arena for just their fifth road win in regulation or overtime this season.

      The win drew Buffalo within four points of Arizona as the two teams jockey for the 30th spot in the NHL standings, which carries with it a guarantee of drafting either McDavid or Jack Eichel, two centers considered to be franchise-altering players.

      Meszaros had three goals in the team's first 74 games, but he's now three short of matching his career high of 10 set during his rookie season with Ottawa in 2005-06.

      Arizona took just 1:17 to get on the board when defenseman Connor Murphy sent a shot from the right point through a perfectly placed screen by right winger David Moss to beat Buffalo goalie Anders Lindback for a 1-0 lead. It was Murphy's fourth goal of the season but first since Jan. 27 at Philadelphia, a span of 26 games.

      Buffalo tied the game on a similar goal at the same end of the ice as Arizona's first goal. Meszaros blew a shot through a screen set by center Mikhail Grigorenko. Arizona goalie Mike Smith threw up his hands after the shot found the net, never having seen it at the 4:27 mark of the second period.

      Meszaros gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead with a slapshot from the left point through traffic that found the upper corner of the net at 13:36 of the second period.

      Buffalo right wing Brian Gionta scored an empty-net goal on a power play with 1:49 remaining in the game, and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen added another with 43 seconds left.

      Lindback made 28 saves for the Sabres.

      Arizona has lost 17 of its past 18 home games (1-15-2) and has dropped eight straight, which is one short of the franchise record set earlier this season.

      NOTES: Coyotes LW Lauri Korpikoski missed his third consecutive game after sustaining lacerations when he took a stick to the mouth against the Detroit Red Wings on March 24. He is day-to-day. ... Arizona RW Mikkel Boedker skated for 15 minutes Monday, his first time on the ice since undergoing an emergency splenectomy on Jan. 18 that ended his season. "I think that's one thing that will keep his sanity," coach Dave Tippett said. ... The Sabres recalled G Andrey Makarov from Rochester of the AHL to back up Anders Lindback. G Matt Hackett is experiencing soreness and swelling in the knee he had surgically repaired a year ago. ... C Tyler Ennis skated at the end of Buffalo's morning workout, but he is still sidelined with an upper-body injury he sustained Thursday. Sabres coach Ted Nolan hopes Ennis will return Wednesday when the Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015
    Big second period pushes Flames past Stars
    By The Sports Xchange

    DALLAS -- The Calgary Flames needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive Monday.

    • They completed that small mission by scoring three unanswered goals in the second period en route to a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

      Calgary (42-28-7) trailed 2-1 after one period but erupted for three goals within 6:49 to lead 4-2 at the second intermission. The Flames remain in third place in the Pacific Division, but they opened the gap to three points over the Los Angeles Kings, who lost to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.

      "We made the necessary plays at the right time," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "We blocked a ton of shots. (Jonas Hiller) was very good in net. It's a huge win for us."

      Center Jiri Hudler, defenseman Raphael Diaz and left winger Johnny Gaudreau scored in the second, chasing Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen from the game.

      Gaudreau, Hudler and defenseman Dennis Wideman each had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who won their second straight.

      Defenseman Jason Demers pulled the Stars within 4-3 early in the third, but Flames center Mikael Backlund sealed the win on an empty-netter with 6.3 seconds remaining.

      Dallas left winger and captain Jamie Benn had two assists, and center Jason Spezza contributed a goal and an assist. Center Tyler Seguin also scored for the Stars, who remain six points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with five games remaining.

      "It was pretty good effort all game," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "If the effort was bad, I'd stand here and tell you the effort was bad. They gave me everything they had."

      Dallas (37-30-10) took the lead when Spezza scored his 17th of the season 40 seconds into the game. After a backhand pass from right winger Patrick Eaves, Spezza rushed up the ice and capped the sequence with a wrist shot from the right point, beating Hiller high to his glove side.

      Calgary answered at 9:34 of the first on Wideman's 14th of the season. The power-play goal came after Wideman was left alone in the slot, and he quickly finished with a wrist shot that beat Lehtonen high to his glove side.

      Dallas regained the lead when Seguin scored his 35th of the season 34 seconds before the first intermission. Seguin beat Hiller far post with a low wrist shot to his blocker side from the left circle.

      Hudler, who was appearing in his 600th career game, scored his 29th of the season 9:25 into the second when his wrist shot off a rebound deflected in off Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski.

      Hudler collected the rebound after Lehtonen denied a wrist shot by defenseman Kris Russell from the left point, and he scored when his attempt deflected off Goligoski's right arm and traveled through Lehtonen's legs.

      "Obviously, it was a lucky, lucky bounce," Hudler said. "I thought it gave us more life."

      Diaz then scored on a wraparound at 12:28 of the second to give the Flames a 3-2 lead. Diaz received the puck on the right side of the Dallas zone, evaded Lehtonen at the far post, skated behind the goal and finished into an open net at the near post.

      It was his second of the season and first since Feb. 2.

      Gaudreau made it 4-2 with his 22nd of the season with 3:46 remaining in the second. Gaudreau's wrist shot from the slot that sailed over Lehtonen's glove came after a great pass from center Sean Monahan from behind the Dallas goal.

      That goal ended Lehtonen's night. Lehtonen stopped 15 of 19 shots before being relieved by backup Jhonas Enroth.

      Dallas cut it to 4-3 when Demers scored 3:44 into the third, his fifth of the season off a one-timer from the right point, beating Hiller low on his blocker side.

      Enroth stopped all five shots he faced before leaving the ice for an extra attacker with 1:45 remaining.

      "We're obviously frustrated now," Spezza said. "I don't know what's going to happen the rest of the way, but this team's not going to quit."

      NOTES: The Flames scratched LW Brandon Bollig, LW Paul Byron (lower body), RW Josh Jooris and D Corey Potter. ... The Stars scratched D Jordie Benn (back), LW Travis Moen, RW Valeri Nichushkin and C Colton Sceviour. Nichushkin is on a conditioning assignment to AHL Texas and will play his final game of his three-game assignment on Wednesday. ... Flames C Markus Granlund returned to the ice after missing Sunday's 5-2 win at Nashville due to illness. ... Stars G Kari Lehtonen started his 11th consecutive game. ... Flames D David Schlemko was facing Dallas for the first time since the Stars placed him on waivers March 1. Schlemko played five games for Dallas after the Stars claimed him on waivers from Arizona on Jan. 3. ... Dallas was beginning a two-game homestand where it will also host St. Louis on Friday. ... Calgary started a three-game road trip Monday. The Flames play at St. Louis on Thursday.

  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015
    Blackhawks move closer to playoff berth with win
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHICAGO - The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings are in the same boat -- trying to fight their way up the ladder in their respective divisions to get an optimal spot in the playoffs.

    • But the Blackhawks have an edge on the defending Stanley Cup champions, further illustrated in Monday's 4-1 win over the Kings at the United Center.

      Seemingly inspired by word earlier in the day that injured teammate Patrick Kane may be coming back sooner than expected from a broken collarbone, the Blackhawks played one of their best and most complete games of the season vs. the Kings.

      In so doing, Chicago is now all but assured of making the upcoming playoffs, with hopes to earn its third Stanley Cup championship in the last six seasons.

      "Big games like this seem to bring out the best in us," said Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith, who was selected No. 1 star of the game.

      Chicago is now just one point behind St. Louis for second place in the Central Division.

      "Our objective is to make the playoffs, finish as high as we can, win the division and that's where we want to go," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's one step at a time."

      In addition to Monday's win, Chicago also rallied to beat the Jets in Winnipeg on Sunday night, winning on Jonathan Toews' goal with 31 seconds left in the game.

      "We still have to take care of business and we still have some tough games and some important points ahead of us," Quenneville said. "But these last two games, feels good."

      Chicago has now won six of its last nine games and improved to 46-24-6 behind the stellar play of backup goalie Scott Darling, giving No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford a night off.

      Darling stopped all but one of the Kings' 32 shots to improve his season record to 8-3-0.

      "Obviously, we look to push forward and gain on the teams in front of us and this was a good start today," Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya said.

      The same couldn't be said for the Kings and goalie Jonathan Quick. Los Angeles (37-25-14) was rocked by an identical 4-1 score for the second straight game, and so was Quick (33-21-12), who managed to stop just 35 of Chicago's 39 shots in the game.

      Quick left Saturday's game at Minnesota after giving up two goals in the first period. Hoping for a comeback Monday, the Kings wound up getting more of the same as they suffered their second straight defeat.

      The Kings are now one point behind Calgary for third in the Pacific Division. Los Angeles is also third in the wild-card chase with 88 points, two points behind Winnipeg.

      "It's not where we want to be, but can't sit here and feel bad for ourselves," Kings forward Dustin Brown said. "We have to go out and play. We still have a chance, so that's what I think guys in this room have been really good at, is realizing that the opportunity is there."

      Chicago, which was eliminated in seven games by the Kings in last season's Western Conference Final, wrapped up its regular season tilt with Los Angeles with a 2-1-0 mark.

      Chicago lit the goal lamp first at 5:31 of the first period when left winger Bryan Bickell scored his 13th goal of the season, with the assist going to fellow winger Brandon Saad.

      With 1:40 left in the first period, Saad was hammered in a sandwich, first by defenseman Drew Dougherty, and immediately after with a vicious hit by forward Kyle Clifford. It appeared Clifford hit Saad with a forearm, but there was no penalty called.

      Saad appeared to have the wind knocked out of him, but after being checked by a trainer, he managed to skate off the ice under his own power and went straight to the Blackhawks' locker room.

      It's likely Clifford's hit was in retaliation for Saad hitting Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin less than 10 seconds earlier.

      Los Angeles finally scored its first goal to tie the game with 32 seconds left in the first period on Muzzin's unassisted wrist shot, his ninth goal of the season.

      Chicago regained the lead at 1:37 of the second period when defenseman Duncan Keith scored his ninth goal of the season on the power play, with assists by center Jonathan Toews and forward Marian Hossa.

      Keith's goal seemed to rattle Quick, as Chicago tallied yet another goal just over a minute later (at 2:41) when defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson sent an unassisted slap shot past Quick to make it 3-1 in Chicago's favor.

      It was Hjalmarsson's third goal of the season and his 100th career point in the NHL.

      "They got up the two goals in the second period; it's tough coming back," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "You have to win games. You have to win out. You don't lose in, you win in in this league, especially the way the divisions are set up."

      But Chicago wasn't through with Quick, as Hossa scored his 22nd goal of the season at 13:06 of the third period, putting an exclamation mark on the Blackhawks' win.

      NOTES: Monday's attendance was 21,848. ... Quenneville said there is a possibility RW Patrick Kane may return sooner than expected from the broken collarbone injury that he sustained Feb. 24. Kane has been skating for close to two weeks in full equipment. He was not expected back until mid-May -- if the Hawks reached the conference finals by that point. ...Monday's game marked the first time the teams met in Chicago since Game 7 of last season's Western Conference finals, which the Kings won en route to taking the Stanley Cup championship. The clubs split two games earlier this season in Los Angeles. ... Astronaut James Lovell, on the ice pregame, received a big cheer from the crowd.

  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015
    NHL roundup: Lightning cap sweep of Habs
    By The Sports Xchange

    MONTREAL -- Center Vladislav Namestnikov scored two goals and assisted on another, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night at the Bell Centre.

    • Left winger Jonathan Drouin, right winger Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Anton Stralman also scored for the Lightning, who swept the five-game season series and set a franchise record for wins in a season with their 47th.

      Left winger Max Pacioretty and defenseman Jeff Petry scored for the Canadiens.

      Goaltender Ben Bishop, who picked up a pair of assists, stopped 25 shots for Tampa Bay. Carey Price made 39 saves for Montreal, which has lost seven straight against the Lightning.

      Canucks 4, Blues 1

      ST. LOUIS -- Vancouver used a second-period goal from center Nick Bonino to break a tie and record a win over St. Louis, the Canucks' fourth successive road victory.

      Vancouver beat the Blues for the sixth straight time, including four of the last five in St. Louis.

      Center Shawn Matthias, right winger Radim Vrbata and left winger Alexandre Burrows also scored for the Canucks. Goalie Eddie Lack made 23 saves. Defenseman Zbynek Michalek scored for the Blues, his first goal since being acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline.

      Blackhawks 4, Kings 1

      CHICAGO -- Continuing to make a late-season push up the playoff ladder, the Chicago Blackhawks got the better of a team in the same boat, defeating the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 Monday at the United Center.

      Chicago, which won for the sixth time in nine games, prevailed behind the stellar play of backup goalie Scott Darling, giving No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford a night off. Darling stopped all but one of the Kings' 32 shots to improve his season record to 8-3-0.

      The same couldn't be said for the Kings and goalie Jonathan Quick. Los Angeles was rocked by an identical 4-1 score for the second straight game, and so was Quick, who managed to stop just 35 of Chicago's 39 shots.

      Oilers 4, Avalanche 1

      DENVER -- Goaltender Richard Bachman had 29 saves, defenseman Brandon Davidson scored his first NHL goal, and Edmonton beat Colorado.

      Defensemen Justin Schultz and Nikita Niktin and left winger Taylor Hall also scored for the Oilers, who have won three straight. Edmonton center Andrew Miller had three assists, and center Anton Lander had two.

      Center Ryan O'Reilly scored and goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 33 shots for the Avalanche.

      Flames 5, Stars 3

      DALLAS -- Calgary left winger Johnny Gaudreau, center Jiri Hudler and defenseman Dennis Wideman each had a goal and an assist, and goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped 33 of 36 shots as the Flames defeated Dallas.

      Calgary trailed 2-1 after one period but erupted for three unanswered goals within 6:49 to lead 4-2 at the second intermission.

      Dallas left winger and captain Jamie Benn had two assists, and center Jason Spezza a goal and an assist. Center Tyler Seguin also scored for the Stars.

  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015
    Canucks extend road success, down Blues
    By The Sports Xchange

    ST. LOUIS -- All the Vancouver Canucks needed to shake a mini-slump was a trip to Missouri.

    • Or a trip anywhere for that matter.

      The Canucks used a second-period goal from center Nick Bonino to break a tie and record a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.

      Vancouver improved to 23-12-3 away from home with its fourth successive road win.

      The Canucks were coming off back-to-back home losses to the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars that dropped them to 21-15-2 on friendly ice.

      Vancouver won its sixth successive game against the Blues, including four of the last five in St. Louis.

      "There are less distractions on the road," Bonino said. "No family, no kids, you're just at the rink and at the hotel with the guys all the time. So that definitely plays into it."

      Center Shawn Matthias, right winger Radim Vrbata and left winger Alexandre Burrows also scored for the Canucks. Goalie Eddie Lack made 23 saves to improve to 15-11-4. He is 5-0 against the Blues in his career.

      "Obviously, they are a really good team," Lack said. "We're always focused playing them. It's a tough building to play in, but a fun building to play in. Everyone keeps grinding, and we're having a little luck along the way."

      Lack is 9-4-1 since taking over for the injured Ryan Miller in late February.

      Defenseman Zbynek Michalek scored for the Blues, his first goal since being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes at the trade deadline.

      Bonino broke a 1-1 tie by converting into an open net off a shot by defenseman Kevin Bieksa that hit the backboard and bounced right back in front at 13:15 of the second period.

      The goal was Bonino's 15th of the season and second in as many games.

      "You need those timely goals, especially down the stretch," Bonino said. "It was a fortuitous bounce, and it went in."

      St. Louis, which has lost five of its last seven at home, tied the game on Michalek's drive from the point at 12:44 of the second period. Right winger T.J. Oshie provided a perfect screen on the play.

      Vancouver needed just 31 seconds to regain the lead for good on Bonino's goal.

      Vrbata added his team-high 31st goal with 12:54 left in the contest. Breaking free on a two-on-one, he used Bonino as a decoy and blasted a shot over St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott for a 3-1 lead.

      Matthias opened the scoring with a breakaway goal early in the second period. He capitalized on a sloppy line change by the Blues for his first goal in seven games.

      "That was big for Matthias," Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said. "I know he wants to get things to happen."

      The Canucks won the first game of a rugged four-game trip in style.

      "I like the way we defended the whole game," Desjardins said. "From the second period on, we played pretty well."

      "St. Louis had a real good start to the game. They controlled the first 10 minutes, and then I thought we got going. They're a good team, and for whatever reason, we've had some good fortune (against them)."

      Burrows added an empty-net goal with 1:31 left.

      Both teams have six games remaining in the regular season.

      Vancouver (44-27-5) remains in second place in the Pacific Division with 93 points, two more than the Calgary Flames.

      St. Louis (46-23-7) still has 99 points, three points behind the idle first-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

      The effort Monday was the Blues' second sub-par performance in a row, according to coach Ken Hitchcock.

      "Too many breakaways," he said.

      Michalek also was disappointed.

      "That's no way to play, especially at this time of the season," Michalek said.

      NOTES: The Blues failed to score in the first period for the 10th consecutive game. ... St. Louis RW T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup after missing a 4-2 loss to Columbus on Saturday with the stomach flu. ... Blues LW Alex Steen missed Monday's game with a lower-body injury sustained in the first period Saturday. He said he likely would return Thursday against the Calgary Flames. ... Vancouver G Ryan Miller, who is out with a knee injury sustained Feb. 22, will be back for the postseason. ... The Blues scored just 10 goals in their previous five games. ... The Canucks outhit the Blues 41-34 in a 6-5 shootout win at Vancouver on March 1. ... The Canucks have 10 players with 10 or more goals this season.

  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015
    Namestnikov's two goals help Lightning win
    By The Sports Xchange

    MONTREAL -- It doesn't matter who goes down for the Tampa Bay Lightning because there always seems to be someone ready to step up.

    • The Lightning were faced with a new batch of injuries heading into their game against the Montreal Canadiens, and this time center Vladislav Namestnikov was the difference, scoring two goals -- including the game-winner -- and assisting on another to lead Tampa Bay to a 5-3 win over Montreal on Monday night at the Bell Centre.

      "Everybody steps up at different times, and tonight was no different," said Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, who stopped 25 shots and earned a pair of assists.

      Left winger Jonathan Drouin, right winger Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Anton Stralman also scored for the Lightning (47-23-7), who swept the five-game

      season series and set a franchise record for wins in a season.

      Left winger Max Pacioretty and defensemen Jeff Petry and P.K. Subban scored for the Canadiens (47-22-8).

      The Lightning took advantage of a slow and sloppy line change by Montreal to get the scoring started at 1:24 of the second period. Bishop spotted center

      Steven Stamkos at the Canadiens' blue line. Tampa's captain broke in along the left side before dishing off to Namestnikov, who skated into the slot to beat Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.

      Pacioretty's 37th goal of the season -- and third short-handed -- squared things exactly three minutes later. With the Canadiens killing a double minor, Pacioretty

      batted an attempted stretch pass out of the air in the neutral zone. Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov picked it up and fed center Tomas Plekanec along the

      left wing. Plekanec, on a two-on-one with Pacioretty, fed Montreal's leading goal-scorer in the right circle, where Pacioretty fired a shot top shelf on Bishop.

      The goal gave Pacioretty 66 points on the season, a career high.

      Tampa Bay tempered the Bell Centre's excitement just 33 seconds later on the same power play. Stralman, at the Lightning's blue line, found Drouin at the Canadiens' blue line. The rookie broke in alone, notching his third goal of the season with a shot from the slot.

      "Those were breakdowns we've got to clean up," Pacioretty said of the Lightning getting behind the Montreal defense. "When we're giving them breaks, that team is too skilled to not put it in the back of the net. In the playoffs, you can't afford to give teams breaks like that because they'll make you pay. We've got five games to get ready and we've got to move forward."

      Right winger Dale Weise was in the penalty box for those four minutes after an unsportsmanlike call was tacked on to his slashing infraction, giving Tampa its fourth and fifth power plays of the game.

      "They dominated us in the first period and then I came out and took the penalty and didn't give us a chance to really get anything going," Weise said. "That's not acceptable. Uncalled for on my part."

      Namestnikov restored Tampa Bay's two-goal lead at 6:21 of the third. Two Canadiens going for the same hit at the Montreal blue line allowed him to break in on

      a two-on-one before he sent a wrister from the left circle for his second of the night.

      "It was a big goal," Namestnikov said of his tally, which hushed the Bell Centre crowd. "They put some pressure on us but the guys did a great job of not letting them score again. It was a great full 60 minutes and good game overall."

      Kucherov made it 3-1 at 18:07. Markov rimmed a clearing attempt around the boards, but it was picked off along the opposite wall by Ondrej Palat. The Tampa

      Bay left winger sent it to Namestnikov, who fed Kucherov in the right circle.

      Petry pulled the Canadiens to within one 23 seconds into the third. Center Lars Eller won the faceoff back to Petry at the point, and Petry's shot deflected into the net.

      Subban cut the Lightning's lead to 4-3 on the power play at 16:10. After the Canadiens passed the puck around looking for a shot, Subban blasted the puck

      from inside the blue line to the back of the net.

      Stralman sealed the game with a goal down the ice into an empty net in the final minute.

      Price made 39 saves for Montreal, which has lost seven straight against Tampa Bay.

      NOTES: Lightning C Cedric Paquette was in the lineup despite suffering an apparent lower-body injury against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. ... Tampa

      Bay C Tyler Johnson, D Jason Garrison and D Andrej Sustr missed the game with injuries while emergency call-up Jonathan Marchessault was the lone healthy

      scratch. Garrison is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. ... Montreal kept the same lineup from Saturday's game, leaving RW Devante Smith-Pelly, C Manny Malhotra,

      D Mike Weaver and D Sergei Gonchar as the team's healthy scratches. ... Canadiens D Tom Gilbert missed his fourth game while recovering from an upper-body

      injury.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    NHL notebook: Lightning D Garrison out 3-4 weeks
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Tampa Bay Lightning lost defenseman Jason Garrison for 3-4 weeks and could be without three others for at least a game, coach Jon Cooper said Monday.

    • Defenseman Andrej Sustr will miss 1-2 weeks and center Tyler Johnson will not play Monday against the Montreal Canadiens, Cooper said. All three have upper-body injuries suffered in Tampa Bay's 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

      Center Cedric Paquette also was injured in that game and is a game-time decision Monday.

      ---The Buffalo Sabres recalled goaltender Andrey Makarov from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Monday.

      The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Makarov, 21, joins the Sabres for his fourth NHL recall after being signed by Buffalo as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

      With the Amerks this season, he has played in 37 games, recording a 15-17-3 record with a .902 save percentage and 2.98 goals-against average.

      ---The Minnesota Wild recalled defenseman Christian Folin from the Iowa Wild of the AHL and also agreed to terms with goaltender Brody Hoffman and defenseman Zach Palmquist on entry-level contracts for the 2015-16 season.

      Folin, 24, has collected 10 points (eight assists) and a plus-4 rating in 39 games with Minnesota this season. He has four points in 13 games with Iowa.

      Hoffman, 24, went 13-6-2 with a 2.06 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and one shutout in 22 games during his junior season with the University of Vermont in 2014-15.

      Palmquist, 24, served as an alternate captain for the Minnesota State Mavericks, scoring 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 40 games during his senior season.

      ---The Columbus Blue Jackets assigned center William Karlsson to the Springfield Falcons of the AHL.

      Karlsson, 22, registered a goal and an assist for two points with a plus-2 plus rating in three games after joining the Blue Jackets on an emergency recall from Springfield on March 23.

      Karlsson was acquired by Columbus from the Anaheim on March 2. He made his NHL debut earlier this season with the Ducks, posting two goals and one assist in 18 games. He has also collected 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 45 AHL games with the Falcons and Norfolk Admirals.

      ---The Toronto Maple Leafs recalled defenseman T.J. Brennan on an emergency basis Monday from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

      Brennan, 25, has registered seven penalty minutes in four games with the Maple Leafs this season. The Willingboro, N.J., native has played in 64 AHL games this year (54 with Rockford and nine with the Marlies), collecting 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists) and 67 penalty minutes.

      ---The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled defenseman Luke Witkowski and forward Jonathan Marchessault from the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL.

      The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Witkowski has played in 10 games with the Lightning this season, averaging 14:44 in ice time. He made his NHL debut with Tampa Bay on Jan. 20 against the Vancouver Canucks.

      A native of Holland, Mich., Witkowski has appeared in 47 games with the Crunch this season, posting two goals and eight points to go along with 91 penalty minutes.

      ---The New York Rangers reassigned defenseman Chris Summers to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL.

      Summers tied for the team lead with three hits and recorded two shots on goal in 15 minutes of ice time while making his Rangers debut on Sunday against Washington.

      The 6-foot-2, 209-pound Summers has skated in 18 AHL games this season, tallying two assists and registering 21 penalty minutes.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    Wild recall D Folin, sign two college players
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Minnesota Wild recalled defenseman Christian Folin from the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League on Monday and also agreed to terms with goaltender Brody Hoffman and defenseman Zach Palmquist on entry-level contracts for the 2015-16 season.

    • Folin, 24, has collected 10 points (eight assists) and a plus-4 rating in 39 games with Minnesota this season. He has four points in 13 games with Iowa.

      Hoffman, 24, went 13-6-2 with a 2.06 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and one shutout in 22 games during his junior season with the University of Vermont in 2014-15. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound native of Wilkie, Saskatchewan, was 34-33-9 with a 2.45 GAA, a .914 save percentage and three shutouts in three seasons with the Catamounts.

      Palmquist, 24, served as an alternate captain for the Minnesota State Mavericks, scoring 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 40 games during his senior season. The 6-foot, 175-pound native of South St. Paul, Minn., did not miss a game during his four seasons at Minnesota State, playing in a school-record 160 consecutive contests and recording 96 points (25 goals, 71 assists) and 109 penalty minutes.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    Lightning D Garrison out 3-4 weeks
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Tampa Bay Lightning lost defenseman Jason Garrison for 3-4 weeks and could be without three others for at least a game, coach Jon Cooper said Monday.

    • Defenseman Andrej Sustr will miss 1-2 weeks and center Tyler Johnson will not play Monday against the Montreal Canadiens, Cooper said. All three have upper-body injuries suffered in Tampa Bay's 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

      Center Cedric Paquette also was injured in that game and is a game-time decision Monday.

      "It's unreal, because we go a long stretch and everything's rolling pretty well, and then you lose a multitude of guys in one game," Cooper said. "Now we have significant injuries to some players that are a big part of our team. We're just going to have to find a way."

      Tampa Bay, three points behind Montreal in the Atlantic Division, could secure a playoff berth with a win or with a loss in overtime or a shootout.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    Sabres recall G Makarov
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Buffalo Sabres recalled goaltender Andrey Makarov from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Monday.

    • The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Makarov, 21, joins the Sabres for his fourth career NHL recall after being signed by Buffalo as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

      With the Amerks this season, he has played in 37 games, recording a 15-17-3 record with a .902 save percentage and 2.98 goals-against average.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    Blue Jackets reassign C Karlsson
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Columbus Blue Jackets assigned center William Karlsson to the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League on Monday.

    • Karlsson, 22, registered a goal and an assist for two points with a plus-2 plus rating in three games after joining the Blue Jackets on an emergency recall from Springfield on March 23. He collected an assist against Anaheim in his Blue Jackets debut on March 24 and scored his first goal with the club at St. Louis on Saturday.

      Karlsson was acquired by Columbus from the Anaheim on March 2. He made his NHL debut earlier this season with the Ducks, posting two goals and one assist in 18 games. He has also collected 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 45 AHL games with the Falcons and Norfolk Admirals.

      The Marsta, Sweden, native was Anaheim's third pick (53rd overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    Maple Leafs recall D Brennan
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Toronto Maple Leafs recalled defenseman T.J. Brennan on an emergency basis Monday from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

    • Brennan, 25, has registered seven penalty minutes in four games with the Maple Leafs this season. The Willingboro, N.J., native has played in 64 AHL games this year (54 with Rockford and nine with the Marlies), collecting 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists) and 67 penalty minutes.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    Lightning recall D Witkowski, F Marchessault
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled defenseman Luke Witkowski and forward Jonathan Marchessault from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League on Monday.

    • The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Witkowski has played in 10 games with the Lightning this season, averaging 14:44 in ice time with an even rating. He made his NHL debut with Tampa Bay on Jan. 20 against the Vancouver Canucks.

      A native of Holland, Mich., Witkowski has appeared in 47 games with the Crunch this season, posting two goals and eight points to go along with 91 penalty minutes. He has skated in 126 career AHL games, all with the Crunch over the past three seasons, recording four goals and 20 points. Witkowski was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Draft.

      The 5-8, 184-pound Marchessault has played in 60 games with Syracuse this season, leading the Crunch with 36 assists and 57 points. He ranks second on the team for goals with 21, while his six power-play goals are tied for second. The 24 year-old has played in 287 career AHL games with Syracuse, the Springfield Falcons and the Connecticut Whale, recording 89 goals and 244 points.

      A native of Cap-Rouge, Quebec, Marchessault has played in three career NHL games with the Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets. He made his Lightning debut, his only appearance with Tampa Bay this season, on Oct. 25 at the Minnesota Wild, logging 12:33 in ice time. He was acquired by Tampa Bay on March 5, 2014.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    Rangers reassign D Summers
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New York Rangers reassigned defenseman Chris Summers to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League on Monday.

    • Summers tied for the team-high with three hits and recorded two shots on goal in 15:00 of ice time while making his Rangers debut on Sunday against Washington.

      The 6-foot-2, 209-pound Summers has skated in 18 AHL games this season, tallying two assists and registering 21 penalty minutes. Summers has notched an assist and has posted a plus-3 rating in 10 games with the Wolf Pack in 2014-15.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    Perron helps Pens edge Sharks in shootout
    By The Sports Xchange

    PITTSBURGH -- David Perron wasn't too ill to lobby for a spot on the Pittsburgh lineup. Coach Mike Johnston listened, acquiesced and got rewarded.

    • Perron scored in a shootout to help the Penguins beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Sunday at Consol Energy Center after they blew a two-goal lead.

      The left winger had missed Saturday afternoon's win against Arizona and did not come to the arena for Sunday's morning skate, but a lot of rest and willpower got him ready to play. He and center Sidney Crosby beat San Jose goaltender Alex Stalock in the shootout, while Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury -- who made 31 saves by the end of overtime -- stopped center Melker Karlsson, and Sharks center Logan Couture hit the post in the shootout.

      "I woke up this morning feeling a lot better, I'll tell you," Perron said.

      "I came to the rink yesterday, and 20 minutes before warmup I had go in and throw up a little bit. That's not a good feeling. I went home and I got a lot of rest. I probably slept from 4 to 9, 9:30ish at night. I was wondering if I was going to sleep at night, and I slept the whole night. When I woke up, I felt a lot better."

      The Penguins were not feeling a lot better about themselves given that a two-goal lead forged goals by right winger Patric Hornqvist and left winger Chris Kunitz 56 seconds apart in the first period got negated by second-period Sharks goals from right winger Ben Smith and Couture.

      To make things tenser, Hornqvist got a stick into the face of San Jose defenseman Brent Burns 1:11 into overtime. Burns was bloodied, and Hornqvist got a double-minor penalty, leaving the Pittsburgh short-handed for the rest of the five-minute overtime.

      "We knew when we got a four-minute penalty that we probably weren't going to score in overtime, so we were playing for the shootout," Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "I thought that our penalty-killers did awesome jobs. I thought (defensemen) Rob Scuderi and Paul Martin were outstanding, and once we got to the shootout, their night was hopefully over. It worked out well. They could get a nice rest on the bench and leave it to the skill players to go get us that extra point."

      With its two points, Pittsburgh kept hold of a share of second place with the New York Islanders in the Metropolitan Division with 95 points.

      San Jose, with barely a pulse in the playoff race, finished a seven-game, 13-day road trip at 3-4.

      The Sharks would have been over .500 for the trip if they had managed a four-on-three goal in overtime.

      "That was the difference, but you take that 3:49 out and it was a pretty gutsy effort on our behalf," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "To fall behind and finish up a road trip like we did, coming back against a real good team, was something we can be proud of."

      Pittsburgh played with just five defensemen, one below the norm, because of the absence of top defenseman Kris Letang. The Norris Trophy contender got a concussion Saturday, coach Mike Johnston confirmed, and is out indefinitely, although he was released from a hospital Sunday.

      The Penguins had no salary cap room to recall a defenseman and were not eligible for an emergency recall.

      That's why Perron went to Johnston's office before the game and lobbied to play, even though he had been listed as doubtful earlier in the day.

      "I was really surprised," Johnston said. "As it happened, we really needed him. I give him a lot of credit for him coming and saying, 'Hey, I know we're going to be short-handed. Let me play.'"

      Perron played 10:05, more on the fourth line than in his normal spot on the top line with Crosby.

      He was first up in the shootout, moving in on Stalock, going from forehand to backhand and roofing the puck.

      "I don't have many moves in the shootout," Perron said. "I always try to do the same ones. ... It's been effective, so I'll keep doing that."

      NOTES: LW Chris Kunitz had gone 14 games without a goal, 11 without a point. ... The Penguins played without D Christian Ehrhoff (undisclosed injury) for the third consecutive game and the 22nd time in the past 28 games. ... Pittsburgh is off until Wednesday, when the Philadelphia Flyers visit. ... San Jose D Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who left Saturday's game at Philadelphia with a lower-body injury, did not play. ... The Sharks recalled D Taylor Fedun from Worchester of the AHL. Fedun made his Sharks debut after playing four games with Edmonton last season. ... Sharks backup G Alex Stalock started for the second time in as many days in part because he played well Saturday against the Flyers and in part because No. 1 G Antti Niemi had a slight illness, coach Todd McLellan said. ... San Jose returns home to face the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    Blackhawks edge Jets, grab 3rd place in division
    By The Sports Xchange

    WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Facing a one-goal deficit after two periods, and staring at a possible fourth loss in five games, the Chicago Blackhawks kept their cool.

    • They knew they were generating high-quality scoring chances against their division rivals, the Winnipeg Jets, and that a few pucks were bound to find their way into the net.

      That was exactly what happened. Left winger Patrick Sharp took advantage of a freak occurrence to tie the game, and center Jonathan Toews tipped home the game-winner with 30.8 seconds remaining to give the Blackhawks a much-needed 4-3 victory at MTS Centre.

      Chicago coach Joel Quenneville called the game the biggest win of the season for his club, which had been slowly losing touch with the teams at the top of the Western Conference.

      "The guys hung in," he said. "The attitude going into the third period was, 'Hey, we've done a lot of good things, let's go for 20 (minutes) and see what happens."

      Toews, a Winnipeg native, got his stick on a shot from defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson at the right point and redirected it into the top corner to stun the crowd.

      "I don't think anyone panicked or lost their cool or anything," said Toews, the Blackhawks' captain. "We've all been in situations like that before whether it's playoffs or regular season.

      "We're going to have to win games in dramatic fashion sometimes, especially this time of year."

      Centers Andrew Shaw and Brad Richards also scored for Chicago (45-24-6), which moved back into third place in the Central Division. The Blackhawks jumped one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild, who slipped into the top Western Conference wild-card position.

      Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien scored two power-play goals in the second period for the Jets, and right winger Blake Wheeler added a short-handed marker. Winnipeg (39-25-12) remains in the second wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings.

      Sharp's goal came on the kind of an unusual play. Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom got tangled up with a linesman along the boards and lost his stick. Enstrom tried to make a play with his glove, but Sharp scooped up the puck, went in alone on Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec and buried a snap shot to tie the game 6:27 into the third period.

      "I saw he was tied up and in a little bit of trouble," Sharp said. "That's an unfortunate play for them, fortunate for us. We've had our fair share of posts and (pucks) staying out, so it's nice to get a good bounce to go in."

      A despondent Jets coach Paul Maurice didn't have much to say about the play.

      "It's like an injury," Maurice said. "You know, you're angry when it happens, but there isn't anything you can do about it."

      Jets captain Andrew Ladd said the play was no excuse for failing to at least earn a point in the game.

      "It's always tough to give up the tying goal on that play, but at the same time it's still a 3-3 hockey game late in the third period and we've got to find a way to take that thing to at least overtime," the left winger said.

      Byfuglien's second goal came on a hard shot from the blue line that cleanly beat Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford with 26 seconds remaining in the second period to give the home team a 3-2 lead. It was the big defenseman's third goal in two games since returning from injury.

      Wheeler finished an end-to-end, short-handed passing play with assists from Ladd and Tyler Myers to give the Jets their first lead of the game at 2-1. The tally at 7:40 of the second period was Wheeler's fourth short-handed goal of the season.

      Richards tied it at 2-2 with his 12th goal of the season on a perfect tip of a Johnny Oduya point shot that went up and over Pavelec's shoulder at 16:19 of the middle period.

      Byfuglien's first goal somehow went off Crawford's blocker, over the goalie's head and off his back before finding the net to make it 1-1 early in the middle frame.

      Shaw opened the scoring at 18:30 of the first period, on Chicago's first power play of the game, pouncing on a puck in the crease and putting it past Pavelec for his 14th goal of the season.

      The Jets finished the night with a 34-24 edge in shots. Crawford made 31 saves for the win, while Pavelec stopped 20 shots.

      NOTES: Jets C Mathieu Perreault returned to the lineup after missing 16 games with a lower-body injury. Top C Bryan Little missed an 11th straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Chicago RW Patrick Kane missed a 14th straight game with a fractured clavicle. ... The Jets won three straight meetings between the clubs in Chicago to start the season before Chicago was victorious in Winnipeg on Feb. 6. ... The Jets fell to 12-3-2 in their past 17 home games. ... Corey Crawford started in goal for Chicago two days after being pulled in the first period against Columbus.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
    NHL roundup: Bruins inch closer to playoffs with win
    By The Sports Xchange

    RALEIGH, N.C. -- David Pastrnak scored with 37 seconds left in overtime and goalie Tuukka Rask returned in net to stop 30 shots as the Boston Bruins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 Sunday and inch closer to the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

    • Boston (38-25-13) was 1-3-3 in its previous seven games, allowing Ottawa back into the chase over the last few weeks for the final spot in the Eastern Conference Wild Card playoff spot. However, the Senators lost to Florida and now trail the Bruins, who have six games left, by three points. Ottawa does have one game in hand.

      Left winger Nathan Gerbe scored for Carolina and center Ryan Spooner scored for Boston in regulation.

      Panthers 4, Senators 2

      OTTAWA -- Winger Jaromir Jagr scored twice to lead Florida to a victory over Ottawa in a game with significant playoff race implications at Canadian Tire Centre.

      The win kept alive the Panthers hopes at the final wild card spot as it improved to 85 points. Panthers goalie Dan Ellis made a surprise start and was solid, making 25 saves. Senators goalie Craig Anderson made 33 stops.

      Winger Jussi Jokinen and center Dave Bolland also scored for Florida while the Senators got goals from center Jean-Gabriel and defenseman Erik Karlsson.

      Flames 5, Predators 2

      NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Scoring four straight goals, Calgary moved into the third playoff spot in the Pacific Division with a win over Nashville at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.

      Goalie Jonas Hiller made 27 saves as Calgary (41-28-7) finished the season 3-0-0 against Nashville. Backup goalie Carter Hutton (6-6-4), who got the call after goalie Pekka Rinne drew 11 straight starts, stopped 25 shots for the Predators (47-22-8).

      Center Lance Bouma scored twice, and Kris Russell, left winger Michael Ferland and center Jiri Hudler scored one each for Calrgary. Defensemen Roman Josi and Seth Jones scored for the Predators.

      Islanders 5, Red Wings 4

      UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The struggling and skidding New York Islanders enjoyed their best offensive day of the month, coming back from an early two-goal deficit to edge Detroit at Nassau Coliseum.

      Centers Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen and Ryan Strome, and right wingers Kyle Okposo and Cal Clutterbuck scored for the Islanders while goalie Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves.

      Center Tomas Tatar, left winger Drew Miller, defenseman Niklas Kronwall and center Pavel Datsyuk scored for the Red Wings and goalie Jimmy Howard recorded 15 saves in relief of Petr Mrazek, who was pulled less than one minute into the second after allowing four goals on 11 shots.

      Capitals 5, Rangers 2

      NEW YORK -- Right winger Alex Ovechkin scored his 48th and 49th goals of the season and left winger Jason Chimera added two goals in the third period as Washington topped the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

      Center Marcus Johansson scored an empty-net goal with 2:23 remaining to seal the victory The win pulled the Capitals (41-25-10) to within one point of second place in the Metropolitan Division. Goaltender Braden Holtby allowed two goals late in the first period but was otherwise splendid in making 23 saves.

      Centers Kevin Hayes and Derick Brassard scored for the Rangers, who received 26 saves from goaltender Cam Talbot.

      Ducks 2, Devils 1

      NEWARK, N.J. -- Rookie goaltender John Gibson continued his brilliant play by stopping 26 shots and Ryan Kesler and Francois Beauchemin each scored a goal, leading Anaheim over New Jersey at the Prudential Center.

      The victory was the third straight for the Ducks (49-22-7) while the loss was the fifth straight for the Devils (31-33-12), who were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the day when Boston defeated Carolina.

      The Devils got a goal from Dainius Zubrus while goalie Cory Schneider made 24 saves in vain.

      Blackhawks 4, Jets 3

      WINNIPEG -- Jonathan Toews scored with 30.8 seconds remaining to give Chicago a come-from-behind win over Winnipeg.

      Forwards Andrew Shaw, Brad Richards and Patrick Sharp also scored for Chicago (45-24-6), which moved back into third place in the Central Division.

      Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien scored two power-play goals in the second period for the Jets, and forward Blake Wheeler added a short-handed marker for Winnipeg (39-25-12).

      Penguins 3, Sharks 2 (SO)

      PITTSBURGH -- Center Sidney Crosby and left winger David Perron scored in a shootout to lift Pittsburgh past San Jose at Consol Energy Center.

      Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves through regulation and overtime and stopped both Sharks shooters he faced in the shootout. Sharks goalie Alex Stalock made 31 saves in the loss.

      Pittsburgh had blown a two-goal lead forged on quick first-period goals by right winger Patric Hornqvist and left winger Chris Kunitz. The Sharks tied it with second-period goals by right winger Ben Smith and center Logan Couture.

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015
    Loss to Ducks ensures no playoffs for Devils
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEWARK, N.J. -- John Gibson doesn't handle himself like a 21-year-old rookie goaltender in the NHL. It doesn't faze Gibson that he plays for one of the NHL's top teams, the Anaheim Ducks, as they steamroll toward the playoffs and a possible President's Trophy as the top team in the league during the regular season.

    • In fact, Gibson likes to take life in the NHL all in stride.

      "I'm a pretty laid back guy," said Gibson, who continued his recent strong play by stopping 26 shots in the Ducks' 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center Sunday night. "I like to sit back and enjoy the game as well. I'm just trying to help the team win as much as I can. I made the saves when I had to. That's what I get paid to do."

      Gibson led the Ducks (49-22-7) to their third straight win, while the loss was the fifth straight for the Devils (31-33-12), who were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the day when Boston defeated Carolina.

      Gibson won for the 13th time this season.

      "I thought the team played real well in front of me," Gibson said. "We knew that they would be coming hard at us, but we just had to play our game. Just keep it simple."

      Center Ryan Kesler scored on a first-period deflection and defenseman Francois Beauchemin scored on a third period re-direct for the Ducks.

      "I really thought it was off Kesler, but I guess it got through," said Beauchemin, who scored his 10th goal of the season. "As defensemen, that's something we have to do, put the puck on net and see what can happen."

      Beauchemin gave credit to the win to the young net minder.

      "Gibby made some big saves and we tried to keep the puck away from him as much as possible," Beauchemin said. "I knew that they were going to come at us real hard and did so for the whole game. They had a lot of chances, but all game, Gibby was solid there. "

      As for having two solid goalies in Gibson and regular Frederik Anderson, who has 33 wins this season?

      "If the coaches don't know who to play, then that's a good thing, because they're both playing well," Beauchemin said.

      The Devils got a goal from Dainius Zubrus with 3:25 left in the third period, the left winger's fourth goal of the season, ending Gibson's bid for his second shutout of the season and the third of his career.

      "It would have been nice, but as long as we win, I am never going to complain," Gibson said.

      Devils goalie Cory Schneider made 24 saves in vain.

      The Ducks were able to fend off a wild final minute of the game, with the Devils playing with a two-man advantage, but Gibson stood tall making four saves in the closing seconds.

      The Ducks scored in the first period, when defenseman James Wisniewski fired a shot that seemed to bounce on the ice. It was then deflected by Kesler and the puck went high and past Schneider for Kesler's 20th goal of the season.

      In the early stages of the third period, Beauchemin fired a high wrist shot toward the goal, where Devils defenseman Jon Merrill was engaged in a struggle in front with Kesler. The puck seemed to hit Merrill square in the neck and snuck behind Schneider.

      Kesler was originally credited with the goal, but after the play was sent to review in the NHL's Toronto headquarters, Beauchemin got the goal.

      While the Ducks remain in contention for the President's Trophy, holding a three-point lead on Nashville and Montreal, high-scoring right winger Corey Perry said that it's not even a concern.

      "It's not even a thought in our minds at all," Perry said. "We want to go into the playoffs on the right track, playing playoff hockey. It's not a focus. If it happens, fine, but we're not thinking of it."

      The Devils will now play out the string of the final five games of the season, having missed the playoffs for the third straight season and fourth in five years.

      "I don't think it changes anything about the way we do business," said left winger Mike Cammalleri. "We're going to go out there and try the best we can. It's the only way we know how. We have to go out there and compete."

      NOTES: Although the Devils had been struggling overall, they are 10-6-1 in their last 17 home games. ... C Scott Gomez appeared in his 600th game as a member of the Devils, becoming the 15th player in franchise history to reach that milestone. ... Ducks RW Corey Perry reached the 30-goal plateau last week for the sixth time in his career. Only Teemu Selanne (seven years) and Paul Kariya (six) had scored 30 or more goals as many times as Perry with the Ducks. ... The Devils have dominated the Ducks since the Prudential Center opened in 2007, winning seven of 13 contests. ... It was the first time the Ducks had been to the Prudential Center since Dec. 20, 2013, when they earned a 3-2 victory in overtime.

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015
    Islanders rally, then hold on to defeat Red Wings
    By The Sports Xchange

    UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The recipe for accomplishing a host of improbable feats the New York Islanders hadn't achieved in weeks, probably didn't include coming back from a two-goal deficit incurred less than two minutes into the game.

    • But the Islanders were too relieved by actually winning Sunday to care how the victory was put together.

      The Islanders scored five goals in a 20-minute span between the first and second periods Sunday, when they stopped a series of skids and edged the Detroit Red Wings, 5-4, at Nassau Coliseum.

      "It's a strange game, for sure, this time of year," Islanders left winger Matt Martin said. "Didn't matter how we got the two points, we just needed to get the two points."

      The win snapped an overall three-game losing streak as well as an eight-game home losing streak (0-7-1) for the Islanders, who hadn't won at the Coliseum since Feb. 27.

      The victory was only the Islanders' second in the last nine games (2-6-1) and ended an eight-game losing streak (0-7-1) against likely Eastern Conference playoff teams dating back to Jan. 27.

      In addition, the five goals were the most for New York since a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 24.

      All the Islanders had to do to get on track, apparently, was spot Detroit a 2-0 lead -- on goals by Red Wings center Tomas Tatar and left winger Drew Miller -- while the sellout crowd of 16,170 was still filing in.

      "Going down early, with the struggles we've had on our ice and just in general over the last eight to 10 games -- it's been tough, could have went one way or the other tonight," Martin said. "After the first three minutes of the game, we could have either folded tent and went home and waited for the next one and kind of pouted about it, or battled our way back."

      The Islanders took the lead with three goals in a span of 5:01 before the midway point of the first. Center Brock Nelson, center Ryan Strome and left winger Kyle Okposo scored for New York, which scored three goals or fewer in each of its previous eight games.

      The Red Wings tied it 9:54 into the first on a goal by defenseman Niklas Kronwall, after which the video game pace slowed down considerably.

      But the Islanders scored twice in the first 3:57 of the second -- on a power play goal by center Frans Nielsen 16 seconds into the period and an unassisted short-handed breakaway goal by right winger Cal Clutterbuck -- and hung on for their second multi-goal comeback win of the month. New York beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-3, in overtime on March 9 after falling behind 2-0 in the second.

      "The win obviously feels good, especially at home -- iit's been a while," said center John Tavares, who assisted on the goals by Strome and Okposo. "Obviously an odd game to start and then it kind of got into that playoff kind of style the second half of the game. We did a good job of digging deep."

      Center Pavel Datsyuk scored to pull the Red Wings within one goal with 9:40 left in the second, but Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (21 saves) stopped the final 11 shots he faced.

      With the win, the Islanders (45-27-5) moved past Pittsburgh for second place in the Metropolitan Division pending the Penguins' result Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks. The Islanders, who are seeking just their third playoff berth in the last 10 seasons, fell out of the top two in the Metro on Saturday for the first time since Nov. 5.

      "I think there's a lot of tests that occur along the course of a season," Clutterbuck said. "Obviously this one's pretty magnified, given the time of year that it is.

      "We know we're going to get ourselves out of it. We're just trying to build off right now towards the postseason."

      Detroit (40-23-12) failed in its final attempt to win consecutive games this month. The Red Wings are 1-2-1 in their last four games despite scoring four goals each time.

      Starting goalie Petr Mrazek was chased following Nielsen's goal -- the fourth he gave up in just 11 shots -- but Jimmy Howard took the loss despite stopping 15 of the 16 shots he faced.

      "We got off to a good start and the puck just went in our net over and over again," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We've got to get that solved."

      NOTES: Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said following the game that his father, Mike Sr., died Saturday night following a long illness. ... Babcock will attend his father's funeral on Wednesday.The Islanders scratched LW Eric Boulton, D Calvin de Haan, D Matt Donovan, RW Michael Grabner and RW Colin McDonald. ... Head coach Jack Capuano shuffled the Islanders' top line for the second straight game. C John Tavares remained on the top line and was surrounded by LW Nikolay Kulemin and RW Ryan Strome. ... The Red Wings scratched LW Erik Cole (upper body), G Jonas Gustavsson (concussion), C Riley Sheahan (upper body), RW Daniel Cleary and D Jakub Kindl. ... G Petr Mrazek made his third consecutive start for the Red Wings, his longest stretch since making seven starts from Jan. 20-Feb. 11.

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015
    Jagr turns back clock as Panthers top Senators
    By The Sports Xchange

    OTTAWA -- A vintage goal by Jaromir Jagr kept alive Florida's chances of making the playoffs.

    • "The last time I did it, it was 1994 and surprise, 20 years later it's still working," the Panthers winger said of his wraparound shot with just over six minutes left that stood as the winner in a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday at Canadian Tire Centre. "I'm kind of surprised. It was probably because I went to church before the game."

      Jagr also scored in the second period. The Panthers received goals from winger Jussi Jokinen and center Dave Bolland, too, while keeping pace with the Bruins, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Florida (35-26-15) is four points behind Boston.

      Ottawa center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and defenseman Erik Karlsson scored. The Senators (37-26-12) lost their third in a row and fell three points back of Boston. They went 17-2-2 before their recent slump.

      "I think the last three games we failed to show up," Karlsson said. "This is the time of year we're going to have to play hockey, and we should want to play hockey by now. We put in the effort to get to where we are, but at the same time, we haven't accomplished anything yet."

      Panthers goalie Dan Ellis received a surprise start and was solid, making 25 saves.

      "He was outstanding," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said of Ellis, who filled in for an ailing Roberto Luongo. "He made some great saves tonight. He stepped in, and he didn't know he was going to be playing until about 12 o'clock today."

      Senators goalie Craig Anderson made 33 stops, but his record slipped to 2-4-1 since Jan. 17.

      "It was one of those games where it went back and forth," Anderson said. "There were times it seemed like we couldn't get anything going, and there were other times where we felt we were taking it to them pretty good and we just didn't get rewarded.

      "It's a roller coaster ride right now. We've won a bunch, then we've lost a couple here. The one good news is we get right back at it on Tuesday again (in Detroit). We can't worry about the past three games."

      The Senators entered the third period trailing 2-0 but cut the deficit to one when Karlsson scored his 19th of the season with a wrist shot on the power play a 4:43. The goal ended a funk in which Ottawa had scored just once in its previous 33 man-advantage opportunities on home ice.

      Jagr's wraparound proceeded a tap-in by Pageau with 2:21 left, but despite a late power-play chance, the Senators couldn't press for the tie. Bolland iced the win with a long shot into the empty net that represented the Panthers' first short-handed goal of the season.

      The Panthers were good on two of five power-play chances, while Ottawa scored on just one of five chances with the man advantage.

      "I thought we were a little slow out of the gate," Senators coach Dave Cameron said. "Ran into some penalty problems that got us back on our heels. and we were kind of off our game that way. We weren't able to get it done."

      The Panthers jumped out to a fast start in a first period that saw them outshoot the Senators 14-9. They were up 11-1 on shots 8 1/2 minutes in, and only some good stops by Anderson kept the game scoreless.

      "We didn't have a good enough push early on to wear them out and have a chance in the third," Senators winger Clarke MacArthur said. "We've got to find ways to win. We didn't do that."

      Meanwhile, at the age of 43, Jagr again appears to be rejuvenated.

      "They've surprised me how talented they are," the fifth-leading scorer in NHL history said of his Panthers teammates. "Even so young, they can make plays like they've been in the league for 10 years. I had no idea about it. I'm glad I'm on this team.

      "I'm happy we won this game because the next game also means something for us. It doesn't matter what happens. I hope we make the playoffs, but it's going to be tough. It's not in our hands. Even if we win all our games, nobody is going to guarantee that we win it. In the long run, this is going to help these kids. They have to play every game like a playoff game, so it's an experience for them."

      NOTES: Panthers coach Gerard Gallant announced Saturday night that G Roberto Luongo would be facing the Senators, which would have been the first time this season Luongo made back-to-back starts. However, an injury kept Luongo in a backup role as G Dan Ellis played Sunday. ... While Senators G Craig Anderson was putting his bruised hand to the test for the second time in 22 hours, G Andrew Hammond dressed as his backup. Hammond, who is 14-1-1 as a starter, watched Saturday's game against the Leafs from the press box as he dealt with a lower-body injury. The Senators sent G Chris Driedger to Binghamton of the AHL. ... Senators D Jared Cowen replaced D Patrick Wiercioch, who was a healthy scratch. Cowen had played just four of the team's previous 17 games. ... Senators LW Colin Greening replaced LW Zack Smith. ... Panthers RW Brad Boyes was scratched with an undisclosed injury. Panthers D Steven Kampfer replaced him in the lineup.

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015
    Bruins inch closer to playoff spot with win
    By The Sports Xchange

    RALEIGH, N.C. -- A veteran Boston Bruins team will take contributions from wherever it can get with two weeks remaining in a season that looks like it's coming down to the wire.

    • Playing for the third time in four nights, a tired Boston club had to dig deep, getting goals from rookies David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner en route to a 2-1 overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

      The 18-year-old Pastrnak, the team's first-round draft pick and 25th overall in 2014, scored with 37 seconds left in the extra period, and goaltender Tuukka Rask returned in net to stop 30 shots on a night that ended up producing a major swing in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

      "I just tried to hit the net," Pastrnak said when asked about his hard shot that beat former Boston goalie Anton Khudobin to win the game. "Being tired is all in your head. If you get some good rest then you're not tired. It's coming down to the end so we can't have an excuse for our schedule. Everybody has it the same. It's hard for everybody else, too."

      Pastrnak now has 10 goals and 14 assists in 40 NHL games.

      "I'm just 18 years old so I'm enjoying every day here," he said. "I'm just trying to do my best and give back to the organization."

      Boston (38-25-13) was 1-3-3 in its previous seven games, allowing Ottawa back into the chase over the last few weeks. However, the Senators lost to Florida and now trail the Bruins, who have six games left, by three points. Ottawa does have one game in hand.

      "Today might not have been perfect but the effort and the will of those guys to continue to battle through fatigue and find a way to win is what I'm really proud of," said Boston coach Claude Julien.

      "We're not going to lie here, we want to take care of our own business and we have to win games and not rely on others, but there is no doubt when the game is over there is some curiosity there to find out what's going on. That was a big win for Florida. We get them on Tuesday so now it's up to us to get the job done."

      The Bruins now have 89 points, Ottawa 86 and Florida 85 as they battle for the final postseason spot in the East.

      Boston ended regulation on the power play when Carolina defenseman Ron Hainsey broke his stick on a shot and then threw the broken piece at the puck, hitting it for a minor penalty. But the Bruins didn't register a shot and the game went into overtime -- Boston's 25th extra period of the season.

      Rask returned to net for the Bruins after taking himself out of Saturday's 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers early in the second period after suffering from migraine headaches, while Pastrnak notched his third game winner of the season from the slot.

      Carolina center Jeff Skinner and defenseman Justin Faulk hit posts in the opening 10:08 of the third period as the score remained 1-1.

      It appeared Rask and the Bruins would take a 1-0 lead into the third as neither team was producing much offensively in a slow-paced game. However, the Hurricanes broke out of their zone on an odd-man rush late in the second and were able to break through to tie it at 1-1.

      Left winger Nathan Gerbe took a pass from right winger Chris Terry on a 2-on-1 with a delayed penalty against the Bruins behind the play and beat the Boston goalie with 21.3 seconds left. It was Gerbe's first goal in 15 games and just his second in 22 career games against the Bruins.

      Boston wasted little jumping on the Hurricanes 2:21 into the game as Spooner, with 15 points in 18 games since being recalled from the minors in mid-February, scored his seventh of the season between the legs of Khudobin.

      "There were tons of positives for us in this game," said Carolina coach Bill Peters. "We matched their intensity today if not exceeded it some of the time. That was a high end game for this time of the year."

      NOTES: Boston D Dougie Hamilton missed his fourth straight game with an undisclosed injury ... LW Nathan Gerbe has now recorded 200 or more shots in each of his two seasons with Carolina. ... The Hurricanes are one of three teams (Pittsburgh and St. Louis) ranked in the top 10 in the league both on the power play and shorthanded. ... Carolina C Jordan Staal played in his 600th career game. Older brother and teammate LW Eric Staal logged game No. 839 while Rangers D Marc Staal played in his 535th Sunday, meaning the bothers are 26 shy of 2,000 combined games of NHL experience. ... Boston is now 15-6-2 against Metropolitan Division teams.

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015
    Flames earn pivotal win in Nashville
    By The Sports Xchange

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There's no room for error for the Calgary Flames.

    • On Sunday, one of the NHL's biggest surprises this season played like a team which fully understood the concept of now or never.

      Playing what coach Bob Hartley termed its most complete game in a long time, Calgary leapfrogged defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings for third in the Pacific Division with a 5-2 beating of the Nashville Predators at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.

      "We can't afford to take a night off," said Hartley. "You have to put your faith in the players."

      Hartley's faith was rewarded handsomely. Center Lance Bouma scored two goals, giving him 16 for the season. Center Jiri Hudler potted his 28th goal, while defenseman Kris Russell and left winger Micheal Ferland provided unexpected and satisfying sources of offense.

      Russell snapped a 1-1 tie in the first period with his fourth goal at 17:46, a wrister from the right point that appeared to deflect off Nashville center Paul Gaustad, and later saved a goal by reaching behind goalie Jonas Hiller to sweep the puck away as it neared the goal line.

      Ferland, a rookie fourth-liner who hadn't scored in his first 20 NHL games, did so in his 21st. He converted a sweet feed from center Drew Shore at the goal mouth for a 3-1 advantage at 6:57 of the second period.

      "I've been itching to get the first one," said a beaming Ferland. "It feels like I got about 200 pounds off my back."

      Hiller (22-18-4) was solid in net with 27 saves as the Flames (41-28-7) improved to 89 points, one ahead of the Kings. Calgary also wrapped up a three-game season sweep of the Central Division-leading Predators.

      After clinching a Western Conference playoff berth Saturday with a 4-3 win in Washington, Nashville (47-22-8) saw its four-game winning streak end in a flat performance. Backup goalie Carter Hutton (6-6-4) gave up four goals on 29 shots, two of the soft variety, and the defense missed a spate of assignments.

      "We were slow to get into the battles today," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Our execution was off a little bit. We had too many mistakes defensively. We could have played better across the board."

      Nashville did score the first goal, defenseman Roman Josi ripping a slapper from just inside the left point past Hiller at 6:17 of the first period for his 15th of the season.

      Bouma equalized at 9:13, poking the rebound of his blocked shot through Hutton's legs for his 15th goal on a play which became symbolic of the day. The Flames needed this one desperately and played like it.

      "I was surprised the puck stuck there," Bouma said of the goal.

      Following Russell and Ferland's markers, Hudler made it 4-1 at 11:53 of the second period with a goal Hutton would probably like to have back. Roaring down the left wing on a semi-breakaway, Hudler's wrister appeared to stick between Hutton's legs, but eventually trickled across the goal line.

      Predators defenseman Seth Jones tallied his seventh goal at 9:55 of the third period with a wrister on a delayed penalty. But Nashville couldn't pull closer and Bouma's empty-netter at 19:30 applied frosting to a victory cake.

      "We're taking every game like a game 7," said Bouma. "Everyone knew the importance of this game. We'd like to be in a playoff spot (already), but this is a great challenge. It's a lot of fun."

      With 102 points, the Predators remain three points up on St. Louis in the division, but the Blues have two games in hand.

      NOTES: Calgary C Markus Granlund (flu) was scratched. Granlund, who missed practice on Saturday, scored in the Flames' previous three games. ... Nashville D Shea Weber (lower-body injury) missed his consecutive straight game after having played in the team's first 75 games. He is considered day-to-day. ... Calgary C Paul Byron, who returned to the lineup Friday night in a 4-2 loss at Minnesota after a 17-game absence, was a last-minute scratch for undisclosed reasons. ... Predators LW James Neal and C Matt Cullen sat out with upper and lower-body injuries, respectively. Neal missed his eighth straight game.

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015
    NHL notebook: Penguins' Letang out with concussion
    By The Sports Xchange

    Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has been diagnosed with a concussion after taking a hard hit Saturday.

    • Letang, widely considered a candidate for the Norris Trophy, left the game against the Arizona Coyotes at 15:15 of the second period. After Letang released a long outlet pass deep in his end, Coyotes right winger Shane Doan hit him. Letang fell backward into the end boards.

      Letang needed assistance as he left the ice and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. He was released from the hospital Sunday. It's unclear how long he will be sidelined.

      Letang has a history of concussions and suffered a stroke last year. He is third on the Penguins with 54 points (11 goals, 43 assists).

      --The San Jose Sharks recalled defenseman Taylor Fedun from the Worcester Sharks of the American Hockey League.

      Fedun has recorded two goals in four NHL games, all with Edmonton during the 2013-14 season.

      --The Toronto Maple Leafs reassigned defenseman T.J. Brennan to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

      Brennan, 25, has registered seven penalty minutes in four games with the Maple Leafs this season.

      --Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle did not play Sunday because of an upper-body injury.

      --Calgary Flames center Markus Granlund did not play Sunday because of the flur.

      --Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury after having played in the team's first 75 games. He's considered day-to-day.

      --Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton missed his fourth straight game with an undisclosed injury.

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015
    Capitals respond to beat Rangers in New York
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW YORK -- The Washington Capitals could have easily let a pair of turnovers that led to two goals late in the first period sap their confidence.

    • Instead, they responded with two dominant periods against a potential postseason opponent and emerged with a convincing, swagger-inducing 5-2 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.

      A 1-0 lead became a 2-1 deficit as turnovers by Capitals defensemen John Carlson and Matt Niskanen less than two minutes apart led to goals for Rangers centers Kevin Hayes and Derick Brassard. The Capitals answered as right winger Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game and 49th of the season to tie it in the second period, then left winger Jason Chimera scored his sixth and seventh goals in the third period to break open the game.

      Center Marcus Johansson added an empty-net goal, and the Capitals had their first win against a Rangers team that had beaten them twice this season.

      "This big positive for us is the way we played in the second and the third," said Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 23 saves. "If we play that way, I don't think there's any team that can stay with us."

      The win propelled the Capitals (41-25-10) to within one point of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders, who are tied for second in the Metropolitan Division, prior to their respective games on Sunday.

      The Rangers (47-20-7) lost of three of four but should finish no worse than second in the East, so a third playoff matchup in five years with the Capitals could be in the offing.

      "We've been a confident right from the start in the fact we know we have the ability," Holtby said. "I think it's seeing it now in how we played these last two periods here against the best team in the NHL right now. It does good things for your team morale. It's definitely something when things are tough in the future, you remember a game like this and we can get through really anything."

      Both the Rangers and Capitals played Saturday, so although they seemed weary over the final 20 minutes, the Rangers couldn't use fatigue as an excuse.

      "We were on even ground," said Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot, who turned aside 26 shots. "They just came out in the third and wanted it more than we did."

      "There is no doubt the third period it didn't seem like we had a lot of gas in the tank," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Certainly it seemed to affect our execution on the ice."

      Ovechkin's power-play goal midway through the second period pulled the Capitals even, setting the stage for Chimera to score twice early in the third period. A two-goal game from a potential Hart Trophy finalist will always draw the headlines, but production from someone other than the top line is far more exciting to the Capitals.

      Both of Chimera's goals were assisted by center Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr, who comprise the Capitals' third line. Chimera drove the net and got just enough of a Fehr pass to slip through Talbot and across the goal line to make it 3-2, then showed more finesse in finishing a setup from Laich by deking around Talbot to make it 4-2.

      "It's huge," Ovechkin said of the secondary scoring. "Obviously we need the third line to score, especially in the playoffs, and you can see that they can do it."

      Although it was just one win and the two teams will meet in their season finales April 11, but the Capitals left New York feeling good about their game.

      "We can't give them opportunity to play their game and you can see in the second period when we put puck deep we finish our checks, I think they were kind of not ready and don't want to take a hit," Ovechkin said. "It was a good call for us, after that we feel pretty good, (Holtby) did a great job for us today, keep us in the game and we win the game."

      NOTES: Capitals C Jay Beagle (upper body) did not play. ... If Capitals G Braden Holtby starts the final six games, he will tie Olaf Kolzig's team record for starts in a season (73). ... Rangers D Matt Hunwick (upper body) was replaced by D Chris Summers, a rookie who was acquired in the trade for D Keith Yandle on March 2. "It's just an upper-body injury," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We think it's nothing serious but obviously he can't play today so we called up Summers." ... Vigneault said RW Martin St. Louis (knee) was progressing and should be back soon.