Sergei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec scored third period goals to help the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers, and their sixth successive victory, on Tuesday.
Kostitsyn broke a 1-1 deadlock with his wrist shot at 5:59 in the last period before Plekanec provided the finishing touches into an empty net with 36 seconds remaining.
“I think what’s important for our team right now is to really focus one game at a time,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin told reporters. “You know, going down the stretch some of the tougher games to play are when teams are eliminated and they play loose.”
Canadiens center Glen Metropolit had beaten New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist 3:34 into the first to open the scoring before Sean Avery tied the game two minutes into the second.
Montreal (36-29-6) are sixth in the Eastern Conference, while the Rangers have lost five of their last seven to fall to ninth.
Lundqvist made 32 saves from 34 shots and was particularly busy in the second period when he stopped all 18.
New York was held to just 20 shots including four by Avery whose goal was his third in two games.
Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 19 saves.
Montreal, without injured leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri, have posted a 7-1 record since the NHL schedule resumed following the Vancouver Olympics.
BRUINS 5, HURRICANES 2
Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder and David Krejci scored third-period goals to help the Boston Bruins maintain eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tuukka Rask made 30 saves for Boston. Patrice Bergeron scored less than a minute into the game, and Johnny Boychuk gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead midway through the second period.
The Hurricanes cut the lead to 3-2 on Erik Cole’s second goal of the game, early in the third period. Ryder then took a giveaway from Brian Pothier and scored the clincher with 10:12 remaining.
PREDATORS 4, FLYERS 3, SO
At Nashville, Martin Erat scored the only goal of the shootout to lead Nashville past the Philadelphia Flyers.
Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne turned aside all three Flyers attempts in the shootout. Rinne finished with 42 saves.
The Predators carried a two-goal lead into the final period, but goals by Gagne and Pronger 3:04 apart tied the game late in the third.
THRASHERS 4, SABRES 3
At Atlanta, Buffalo’s Ryan Miller was pulled after giving up three goals in the first 6 minutes and Jim Slater’s third-period goal gave the Atlanta Thrashers a win over the Northeast-leading Sabres.
After Miller’s early exit, Patrick Lalime shut out the Thrashers until Slater’s tiebreaking goal with 6:44 remaining. Niclas Bergfors’ third assist set up Slater’s shot in front of the net.
CAPITALS 7, PANTHERS 3
At Sunrise, Florida, Brooks Laich scored twice and five other Washington Capitals players had goals.
The Capitals were without star Alex Ovechkin, suspended two games for a hit on Chicago’s Brian Campbell.
Nicklas Backstrom, Eric Fehr, Brendan Morrison, Jason Chimera and Alexander Semin each scored for the Capitals.
MAPLE LEAFS 4, SENATORS 1
At Ottawa, Phil Kessel got his 26th goal and John Mitchell and Mikhail Grabovski scored 19 seconds apart in the second period to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kessel beat Brian Elliott for his fourth goal in four games 11:20 in. Mitchell made it 2-0 when he scored 4:33 into the second. His goal had not even been announced when Grabovski increased the lead to 3-0 with his ninth goal at 4:52.
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 30 shots for Toronto.
In other games it was:
• Coyotes 2, Lightning 1
• Wild 4, Oilers 2
• Avalanche 5, Blues 3
• Stars 8, Sharks 2
• Islanders 5, Canucks 2
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