The New York Rangers started quickly with three goals in the first period that helped them to a comfortable 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers in a clash between division leaders on Friday.
The Atlantic Division leading Rangers scored in the first minute of the game on a tip-in by Carl Hagelin and extended their lead to 3-0 in the first period with goals by Brad Richards and Michael Del Zotto.
“Our line did a great job the first period, first shift,” Richards told reporters. “That gave us a little jump. We had a good first period.”
Del Zotto’s goal late in the period deflected off the foot of Panthers’ forward Matt Bradley past goalie Scott Clemmensen, who was replaced by Jose Theodore.
Clemmensen stopped 11 of 14 shots.
“There were some breakdowns in front of him, [but] at the end of the day, his job is to stop the puck and he didn’t succeed in that early in the first,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “First time I pulled somebody in the middle of a game, but we need better goaltending for us to have a chance against that team tonight.”
Despite a rally by the Southeast-leading Panthers, New York added to their score with a goal by Brandon Dubinsky, before Matt Bradley ended Henrik Lundqvist’s shutout bid with a backhand goal midway through the second period.
Lundqvist made 20 of his 27 saves during the final two periods.
“Maybe we finished the game well, but we put ourselves in such a hole against a great team like that,” Bradley said.
BLACKHAWKS 3, RED WINGS 2
In Chicago, the Blackhawks extended their lead in the Central Division with a win over their nearest rivals, the Detroit Red Wings.
Brent Seabrook scored the game-winner early in the third period when he fired from the blue line and overpowered Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard with a rising shot that sailed over his glove.
Marian Hossa scored and Jonathan Toews connected on a penalty shot for Chicago, who improved to 10-2-1 in their past 13 before a season-high crowd of 22,166.
Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi had goals for the Red Wings, who now trail the Blackhawks by five points.
PREDATORS 2, BLUES 1, SO
In St Louis, Missouri, Martin Erat scored in the fifth round of the shootout to give Nashville a victory over St Louis.
Erat sent a shot high over the glove hand of Jaroslav Halak, while Predators goalie Pekka Rinne kept the Blues scoreless on all five attempts.
Matt Halischuk scored for the Predators, while the Blues got a goal from T.J. Oshie.
SENATORS 4, FLAMES 3, OT
In Ottawa, Daniel Alfredsson scored his 400th career goal in overtime to complete Ottawa’s comeback win over Calgary.
Alfredsson drove a slap shot from the left point past Leland Irving on a power play after Calgary were left short-handed when Rene Bourque was called for holding.
Erik Karlsson had tied it at 3-3 in the third period as Ottawa battled back from an early 3-0 deficit.
Nick Foligno and Zack Smith scored in the second period for the Senators.
Bourque, Curtis Glencross and Chris Butler scored in first period to give the Flames an early lead.
CAPITALS 3, SABRES 1
In Washington, Alex Ovechkin scored early and late in Washington’s win over Buffalo.
One of Ovechkin’s two goals was actually a pass attempt that got deflected into the net, but the Capitals captain has five goals in seven games, indicating he is emerging from the inconsistent play that has mirrored Washington’s slow start.