Cam Ward stopped 40 shots for his third shutout of the season as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Buffalo Sabres 1-0 on Tuesday and closed in on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Brandon Sutter scored in the final minute of the first period and Ward did the rest to help the Hurricanes snap a four-game losing streak and pull within two points of the Sabres for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
“These are huge games; we knew that coming in here. [Buffalo is] a team we need to catch and it was a big win for us tonight,” Carolina captain Eric Staal told reporters. “It was two great goaltenders. We’re just happy to be on the right end of it.”
Buffalo had their chances, including 22 shots in the first period, but could not break through as the eighth-place team fell dangerously close to being caught by Carolina (32-28-10) in the standings.
The two teams will meet again on April 3 in Carolina.
Ryan Miller made 32 saves on Tuesday, but the Sabres (34-28-8) lost for the third time in five games.
Buffalo failed to score on all three of their power-play opportunities as they suffered their fifth shutout loss of the season.
“It comes down to putting your chances away,” Miller said. “All in all, it was a good hockey game, but not the side we wanted to be on.”
CAPITALS 4, CANADIENS 2
In Montreal, Marcus Johansson scored his second goal of the game 6:43 into the third period and Mike Knuble added Washington’s second power-play goal, as the Capitals extended their winning streak to nine games with a victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
Johansson, who also scored a power-play goal 1:06 into the game, took Alexander Ovechkin’s centering pass and put a backhand shot past Carey Price for his 11th goal of the season to give Washington its third and final one-goal lead.
Knuble added an insurance goal with his 17th with 3:07 left in the third.
Braden Holtby, who was named the NHL’s first star of the week on Monday, stopped 24 shots for his fifth straight win and Brooks Laich also scored for the Capitals.
Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen scored and Price made 37 saves for the Canadiens.
PENGUINS 5, SENATORS 1
In Ottawa, Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal each had a goal and an assist in Pittsburgh’s win over Ottawa. Chris Kunitz had three assists for the Penguins, who also got goals from Ben Lovejoy, Matt Cooke and Zbynek Michalek.
Ryan Shannon scored for the Senators. Ottawa’s Craig Anderson allowed four goals for the second straight game. He made 36 saves while Pittsburgh backup Brent Johnson turned aside 21 of 22.
Paul Martin and Dustin Jeffrey had two assists each as the Penguins.
COYOTES 4, FLAMES 3
In Calgary, Keith Yandle and Michal Rozsival scored 19 seconds apart early in the third period.
Yandle put Phoenix up 3-1 with his 11th goal at 1:53 of the third and the Coyotes increased their lead to three when Roszival’s point shot went through a crowd and beat Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.
Calgary bounced back on Mikael Backlund’s power-play goal less than a minute later and with momentum on their side, the Flames crept within one on Alex Tanguay’s goal at 9:28.
Lee Stempniak and Eric Belanger also scored for Phoenix. Olli Jokinen scored for Calgary.
In other NHL action, it was:
‧ Sharks 6, Stars 3
‧ Kings 4, Predators 2
‧ Bruins 3, Blue Jackets 2, SO
‧ Flyers 3, Panthers 2