The New York Rangers led all the way in their 4-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night, but had to hold on as the Thrashers, in their playoff debut, had a 6-on-4 skating advantage in the final minute.
Atlanta's best chance to force overtime came when the Rangers got only their second penalty, a call against Thomas Pock for holding the stick, to set up the Thrashers' late power-play opportunity.
Atlanta pulled goaltender Kari Lehtonen after the penalty, but was stymied by goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Jaromir Jagr gave New York the early lead. Michael Nylander had a goal and two assists, and Michal Rozsival and Marcel Hossa also scored for the Rangers.
Sabres 4, Islanders 1
At Buffalo, Chris Drury and Brian Campbell each scored two goals for the league's best offensive team.
As they did in finishing the season with a league-leading 53 wins and 308 goals, the Sabres showed off their balanced offense. Campbell's game-opening goal was set up by fourth-line center Tim Connolly, and Buffalo converted two of six power-play chances.
Better still, Buffalo was sound on defense, limiting the Islanders to 21 shots, including just one in the first period.
Arron Asham scored for New York, which clinched the East's eighth and final playoff berth by winning its last four games of the regular season.
Minor league goalie Wade Dubielewicz wasn't to blame in making his career playoff debut filling in for starter Rick DiPietro, who's out after sustaining two concussions last month. Dubielewicz kept the Isles in by stopping 20 of the first 22 shots, and finished with 31 saves.
Red Wings 4, Flames 1
At Detroit, the Red Wings got two goals in the first 8 1/2 minutes. Valtteri Filppula and Nicklas Lidstrom scored in the first period and they led 4-0 by the middle of the second period on Pavel Datsyuk's and Mathieu Schneider's goals. That gave goalie Dominik Hasek more than enough offense.
The Western Conference's top-seeded team set the tone in the opening minutes when Schneider knocked down Matthew Lombardi, landing the first big hit of the game. A few minutes later, Filppula's goal ended a beautiful end-to-end play.
Devils 5, Lightning 3
Zach Parise scored his second goal on a give-and-go with Jamie Langenbrunner early in the third period. Scott Gomez set up power-play goals by Patrik Elias and Brian Rafalski, and the clinching goal by Brian Gionta with 1:22 to play for host New Jersey.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who set a single-season record with 48 wins, looked ordinary in making 23 saves in the game determined by power plays and turnovers.
Vincent Lecavalier scored twice to rally the Lightning from a 3-1 deficit, and Martin St. Louis had the other for Tampa Bay.
The Devils converted on two of their three power-play chances and got both of Parise's goals and Gionta's on Lightning turnovers. Tampa Bay was 1-for-6 on the power play, with St. Louis converting with a two-man advantage.
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