The Winnipeg Jets narrowed the Florida Panthers’ Southeast Division lead with a comprehensive 7-0 thrashing of their rivals at the MTS Center on Thursday.
The Jets (31-27-8) scored five goals in the third period to add some gloss to the scoreline, as well as snap a three-game winning streak for the Panthers (30-21-12).
The win moves Winnipeg to within two points of Florida and into the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
“You could tell there was an extra little buzz around the city, with everything on the line,” Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler said. “I think they want first place, they made that clear tonight, too, and that was great.”
“Our team definitely had that feeling in our locker room and to go out there on the ice and get the same feeling from the fans was a huge lift for us and it helped us, especially early on,” he added.
Evander Kane and Jim Slater scored goals two minutes apart early in the first period to set the Jets on course for a resounding home victory.
The Panthers responded with a strong second period by outshooting Winnipeg 17-8, but were unable to find a way past Ondrej Pavelec, who made 33 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
Kane scored again in the third period and added two assists to complete a four-point game. Kyle Wellwood, Bryan Little, Nik Antropov and Wheeler also scored for the Jets.
CANUCKS 2, BLUES 0
The Vancouver Canucks retained top spot in the NHL standings by beating their nearest conference rival, the St Louis Blues, 2-0 on Thursday.
Alex Burrows’ early third-period goal gave Vancouver the lead and Chris Higgins added an empty-net goal in the final minute for the Canucks, who moved to 90 points ahead of St Louis and Detroit, both on 87. The New York Rangers jumped ahead of both on Thursday and are on 88.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo registered his third shutout of the season, making 29 saves.
BRUINS 4, DEVILS 3, OT
In Boston, David Krejci completed his second career hat-trick in overtime to give the Boston victory and its first season sweep of New Jersey since 1985-86.
Tyler Seguin also scored for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who opened a three-point lead over second-place Ottawa in the Northeast Division and sent New Jersey to its fourth straight loss.
Krejci, who had only three goals across his previous 23 games, picked up a loose puck in front of the Devils goalie at 2:59 of overtime and scored his 16th of the season.
RANGERS 3, HURRICANES 2
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Marian Gaborik scored his 30th goal of the season to help Eastern Conference-leading New York beat Carolina.
Gaborik reached the 30-goal mark for the seventh time in his NHL career. Artem Anisimov had scored earlier for the Rangers and Brandon Prust netted what proved the game winner.
New York won its third straight, despite playing without captain Ryan Callahan, who missed the game because of a bruised right foot.
Jeff Skinner and Jay Harrison scored for the Hurricanes.
FLAMES 4, COYOTES 2
In Glendale, Arizona, Olli Jokinen capped Calgary’s three-goal outburst in the first period, which defeated Phoenix.
The loss was the first for Phoenix at home since late January, ending a run of 11-0-1 in the past 12 games.
The Flames had lost their last four games, but were fighting for a playoff position and made a strong statement with three goals in a span of 3:17 late in the first period, with Mike Cammalleri, Curtis Glencross and Jokinen all finding the net.