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Rangers 1, Islanders 0 (OT)
After playmakers on both sides of the New York-New York backyard brawl were stymied by goalies and goal posts, it was a defensive defenseman who finally broke through to end a playoff-like deadlock.
Dan Girardi gave the visiting Rangers a key win Saturday night when he scored his second goal of the season 3:11 into overtime to knock off the Islanders at fired-up Nassau Coliseum.
With both teams on track for the postseason — although their holds on playoff spots are tenuous — Girardi took a lead pass from Derick Brassard, raced in on goalie Evgeni Nabokov, and beat him with a rising shot just when a shootout seemed inevitable.
"I drove to the net," said Girardi, who has 31 goals in seven NHL seasons. "He made a great pass. This says a lot about our team, the character of our team.
"The Islanders are a good team. They threw everything they could at us. We were very strong in front of the net."
Henrik Lundqvist and Islanders counterpart Nabokov staged a classic goalie duel that Girardi finished.
"You guys might have had fun watching it, but from a coach's point of view, there are a lot of things we need to work on," Rangers coach John Tortorella said.
The Rangers are eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff race, one point behind the Islanders. The Rangers lead ninth-place Winnipeg by two points with seven games remaining — one more than the Jets. The Islanders have six games remaining, but only one more at home before they finish on a five-game trip they hope will end in their first playoff berth since 2007.
Lundqvist, last season's Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goalie, finished with 29 saves for his first shutout of the season and 44th in the NHL.
Lundqvist skated the length of the ice after Girardi's goal to join in the celebration with his teammates at the other end.
"That was a long skate, but it was well worth it," he said. "They played hard. It was an exciting game to play in. It was fun, a lot of fun. Like a playoff game for sure.
"It was a relief and exciting to see the puck go in."
Nabokov stopped 19 shots in taking the tough-luck loss. While the Islanders wanted two points, getting one could go a long way toward giving them a return to the playoffs.
"It's tough to swallow that pill, to play the way we played and lose in overtime, but there's a lot of positives," he said. "Both teams were battling and I think both teams deserve a point.
"This was exactly a playoff game."
However, Tortorella disputed the notion that these teams currently have a rivalry.
"We need a good old-fashioned playoff series. That's when you create rivalries," he said. "Tonight's game brings a different intensity because we are close together in points. I don't buy the rivalry."
Hurricanes 4, Bruins 2
Jiri Tlusty helped Carolina find a way to end its long losing streak.
Tlusty scored two goals, giving him a career-high 19, and the Hurricanes ended a seven-game losing streak with a win over Boston.
The go-ahead goal came from Joe Corvo on a power play at 9:36 of the third.
The win was Carolina's first in the month of April and the Hurricanes also ended an eight-game losing streak at home.
"I'm happy for the guys," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "They've been playing like that for a while. Tonight they stuck with it and played an intense, energized game against a good hockey club. They played the right way and finally got some reward for it."
Jeff Skinner added a first-period power-play goal, the first time this season Boston had allowed two power-play goals in a game.
Carolina goalie Justin Peters stopped 28 shots while Boston's Tuukka Rask had 34 saves.
Peters' most impressive stop was a glove save on Jaromir Jagr during a 5-on-3 power play midway through the second.
Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic scored for the Bruins.
"We had some brain cramps out there tonight," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "The mistakes we made tonight were not helpful — two power-play goals. Those are things we're dealing with right now."
The teams were tied 1-1 after a wild first period that had three fights.
Boston's Shawn Thornton tangled with Kevin Westgarth at 14:14, while Jay Harrison fought Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara at 18:41. Carolina's Nicolas Blanchard, in just his second NHL game, dropped the gloves with Gregory Campbell at 19:32.
Lucic opened the scoring at 6:07 of the first, scoring his sixth goal on a deflection. Jagr had an assist for his 1,686th career point.
Skinner tied it on a power play at 19:24, taking a pass from Alexander Semin — who finished with two assists — and beating Rask from behind stick-side.
Tlusty gave Carolina a 2-1 lead at 14:04 of the second, receiving Eric Staal's pass from behind the net in the right circle and lifting it over Rask's right shoulder.
The Bruins tied it 2-2 at 17:57 when Andrew Ference took the puck from Semin at the red line and passed to Seguin for a breakaway.
Corvo, who played for Boston last season, put Carolina ahead on the power play at 9:36 of the third when he received Marc-Andre Bergeron's pass on the left point and beat Rask over the right shoulder.
Capitals 6, Lightning 5 (OT)
Washington blew a four-goal lead before Mike Green scored a power-play goal at 2:59 of overtime, extending the team's winning streak to seven games.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 27th goal to move ahead in the NHL's goal-scoring race, and the Capitals moved four points clear atop the Southeast Division, albeit after cruising way too much once they had a 5-1 lead early in the second period.
Green scored after Vincent Lecavalier was whistled for slashing Marcus Johansson, who was skating in on the crease for a clear look at a potential winning goal.
Ovechkin broke a tie with the Lightning's Steven Stamkos to take the solo spot atop the goal leaderboard for the first time this season.
Troy Brouwer, Jack Hillen, Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr also scored, and Braden Holtby made 35 saves for the Capitals.
Richard Panik and Martin St. Louis each scored twice for the Lightning, and Teddy Purcell completed the comeback when he scored with 2:35 remaining in regulation.
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1
Toronto scored four goals on its first five shots, chasing Montreal goalie Carey Price midway through the first period en route to the win.
Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Jay McClement, Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel scored for Toronto, which has earned at least one point in 12 of its last 13 games (8-1-4). James Reimer stopped 36 shots for the Leafs.
Price gave up three goals on four shots and was pulled after just 10 minutes, 25 seconds. Peter Budaj didn't fare much better, giving up a goal on the first shot he faced before finishing with 22 saves.
Davis Drewiske scored for Montreal, which remained one point ahead of Boston for the Northeast Division lead and the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
Penguins 3, Panthers 1
Brenden Morrow scored two goals to lift Pittsburgh to its 19th victory in 21 games.
Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh and Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves. Morrow also had an assist.
Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an upper body injury. The Penguins were also without Sidney Crosby, who is out indefinitely with a broken jaw.
Scottie Upshall scored and Jacob Markstrom stopped 19 shots for the Panthers, which have lost three of their last four.
Kings 2, Ducks 1
Mike Richards scored the tiebreaking goal, Jonathan Quick made 19 saves and Los Angeles crept closer to Anaheim atop the Pacific Division standings in the final Freeway Faceoff of the regular season.
Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist as the defending Stanley Cup champions solidified their hold on a top-four seed in the Western Conference by holding off the powerful Ducks, who have lost two straight.
Los Angeles (24-14-4) trails division-leading Anaheim (27-10-5) by seven points with six games to play.
Ryan Getzlaf scored a short-handed goal and Viktor Fasth stopped 16 shots for the Ducks, who have lost in their past five trips to Staples Center.
Stars 2, Sharks 1
Eric Nystrom and rookie Alex Chiasson scored goals, Richard Bachman made 31 saves and Dallas extended its winning streak to five games.
Chiasson scored his sixth goal in just his sixth career NHL contest since being recalled from AHL Texas on April 2, helping the Stars improve to 45 points, even with Detroit and Columbus for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot.
Brent Burns scored for the Sharks, who were coming off a 3-2 shootout win in Detroit on Thursday and are 8-2-1 in their last 11 contests.
Blue Jackets 3, Wild 2 (SO)
Mark Letestu and Cam Atkinson scored in a shootout to lift Columbus over Minnesota.
The Blue Jackets won their third straight and pulled even with Detroit and Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 45 points.
The Wild dropped their third straight and were left clinging to a two-point lead over the Red Wings, Stars and Blue Jackets with 47 points.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 39 shots while Vinny Prospal and Fedor Tyutin each scored for Columbus.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Jason Pominville scored for Minnesota, and Niklas Backstrom had 20 saves.
Avalanche 4, Canucks 3
Jan Hejda scored with 7.6 seconds remaining and Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 24 shots, helping Colorado rally for the victory over Vancouver.
Hejda scored on a shot from just inside the blue line that beat a screened Cory Schneider. It was Hejda's first goal of the season.
Gabriel Landeskog, Cody McLeod and P.A. Parenteau also scored to help the Avalanche beat the Canucks for the first time since Jan. 18, 2011.
Maxim Lapierre, Jannik Hansen and Jason Garrison scored for the Northwest Division-leading Canucks.
Sabres 1, Flyers 0
Jhonas Enroth stopped 29 shots to help Buffalo remain on the fringe of the playoff race with a victory over Philadelphia.
Christian Ehrhoff scored the lone goal, 17 seconds into the third period, when his fortunate carom off the end boards sneaked in behind Steve Mason. Buffalo (17-19-6) snapped a two-game skid and climbed into a tie with New Jersey for 10th in the Eastern Conference standings.
Enroth stopped 11 shots in the final period to close out his third career shutout and first since, Nov. 18, 2011.
The Flyers (17-21-3) lost their fourth straight, squandering an opportunity to jump a point ahead of the Sabres. They've lost four straight in regulation for the first time since Feb. 26-March 6, 2011.
Flames 4, Oilers 1
Sven Baertschi had a goal and an assist and Calgary hurt the playoff hopes of rival Edmonton.
Mikael Backlund, Dennis Wideman and Max Reinhart also scored for the Flames, who have won three of their past four. Calgary improved to just 5-13-2 on the road this season.
Lennart Petrell scored for the Oilers, who have lost five in a row after a five-game winning streak. The skid puts Edmonton's playoff hopes in peril as it is six points behind eighth place in the Western Conference with just seven games remaining.