The Chicago Blackhawks brought their miserable nine-game losing streak to an end with a 4-2 win over the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers on Thursday.
The Blackhawks, Stanley Cup champions in 2010, scored four first-period goals on their way to victory to get back on track in the chase for an NHL playoff berth.
Chicago improved to 30-21-7, while the Rangers dropped to 37-14-5 after their four-game winning streak came to an end.
“It was a great start and obviously a huge win for us,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We haven’t had too many regular season wins that felt as good as that.”
New York gave ace goalie Henrik Lundqvist a night off after his 42-shot shutout win over Boston on Tuesday and Martin Biron was unable to improve on his 10-2-1 record as backup.
The Blackhawks got off the mark a minute into the game with a penalty-shot goal from Jonathan Toews after Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi had covered up a loose puck in the crease.
A minute later Marian Hossa made a perfect pass to Nick Leddy, who one-timed the puck past Biron to make it 2-0.
The Blackhawks kept up the frenetic pace when Toews found Patrick Sharp two minutes later on the breakaway and the rightwing cashed in for a 3-0 lead.
Hossa then took his turn on a breakaway, beating Biron for a 4-0 lead with less than 10 minutes played.
The Rangers got on the board in the second period on Marc Staal’s first goal of the season and pulled to 4-2 on Carl Hagelin’s deflection off a Ryan McDonagh shot late in the third.
“We had an awful start, but I thought we battled back and played a couple of good periods,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said.
Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford saved 24 shots on goal and turned away seven New York power plays.
“It’s a really big win, but this game only means anything if we go into the next game playing even better,” Toews said. “We’ve got to build off this confidence. This skid has created a big hole that we have to dig our way out of.”
FLYERS 7, SABRES 2
In Philadelphia, Wayne Simmonds scored twice despite being hit in the face in the warmup, helping Philadelphia cruise past Buffalo.
Simmonds joined the bench minutes into the first period, wearing a full face mask. He has a career-high 20 goals this season.
Max Talbot also scored twice, while Claude Giroux had five assists.
Erik Gustafsson scored his first career NHL goal as part of a four-goal second period for the Flyers that turned the game around after they conceded two goals in the first.
Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell added goals in the third for the Flyers.
Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek scored for Buffalo.
BLUES 5, ISLANDERS 1
In St Louis, Missouri, Andy McDonald scored his first goal of the season to help St Louis comfortably beat New York.
McDonald has played only six games after missing 51 with a concussion.
T.J. Oshie had goal and an assist, while Kevin Shattenkirk, Jason Arnott and David Perron also scored for the Blues, who moved within three points of NHL-leading Detroit.
The Blues have points in a team-record 20 straight home games (17-0-3) and have 25 home wins, one more that the Red Wings for most in the league (25-3-4).
Frans Nielsen scored the Islanders’ sole goal.
COYOTES 1, KINGS 0
In Los Angeles, Mike Smith posted his fourth shutout of the season after getting into first-period fight, helping Phoenix beat Los Angeles.