The New York Rangers regained first place in the NHL overall with a league best 50th win of the season on Friday, a comfortable 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden.
The Eastern Conference-leading Rangers have won four straight and have 107 points, one better than the Western Conference leaders the St Louis Blues, with four games remaining.
“That’s not something that we’re ultimately focusing on, it’s more our game,” Rangers captain Ryan Callahan told reporters. “The last couple games here, you could feel it starting to come again. We’re starting to get that confidence back, which is really important as you head into the postseason.”
Rangers defenseman Michael del Zotto scored two third period goals and had an assist to lead the offense.
“The thing is, we’re moving the puck quickly. We’re not holding onto it too long,” Del Zotto said. “Right now, the puck’s moving so quickly and no genius has to tell you that the puck moves more quickly than a body, so when we’re doing that with the skill we have, we’re able to score goals.”
Brad Richards scored a second period goal and had two assists, while Marian Gaborik opened the scoring for New York in the first period by settling a loose puck in front of the Montreal goal, before snapping a shot past Carey Price.
Rene Bourque denied Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist a shutout by scoring on Montreal’s final shot of the game with less than three minutes left to play. Lundqvist made 19 saves for his 38th win.
PREDATORS 4, RED WINGS 1
In Detroit, Michigan, the Nashville Predators moved ahead of Detroit in the fight for home-ice advantage in the NHL playoffs by beating the Red Wings, giving coach Barry Trotz his 500th win with the team in the process.
Gabriel Bourque and Francis Bouillon scored in the second period, while Pekka Rinne made 31 saves for Nashville, who moved up to fouth in the Western Conference standings, a point above Detroit.
Alexander Radulov and Shea Weber also scored for the Predators.
Jiri Hudler spoiled Rinne’s shutout bid with 3 minutes, 3 seconds left.
CANUCKS 5, STARS 2
In Vancouver, the hosts dropped Dallas from third seed in the West to seventh.
Max Lapierre had a goal and two assists, while Henrik Sedin added three assists as the Canucks won their fifth straight to move within a point of St Louis for the Western Conference lead. Vancouver are two points behind the New York Rangers for the overall lead.
Chris Higgins, Sami Salo, Andrew Alberts and Alex Burrows also scored for the Canucks.
Steve Ott and Jake Dowell scored for Dallas.
PENGUINS 5, SABRES 3
In Buffalo, New York, Sidney Crosby scored a goal and assisted on three others in Pittsburgh’s win over Buffalo, which moved the Penguins four points above fifth-placed Philadelphia in the East.
It was Crosby’s third four-point game in a season in which concussion troubles have limited him to 18 games and came a day after his nose was bloodied by a puck against the New York Islanders.
Steve Sullivan had a goal and two assists, while Evgeni Malkin had a goal and assist for Pittsburgh.
Thomas Vanek, Tyler Ennis and Jordan Leopold scored for the Sabres, who had a five-game winning streak snapped and dropped into ninth place, behind Washington. Both teams have four games left and 86 points, but the Capitals hold the tiebreaker edge.