Brenden Morrow scored two goals to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday and net their 19th win in 21 games.
Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh and Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves as the Penguins maintained their dominance over the NHL eastern conference.
Scottie Upshall scored for Florida and Jacob Markstrom stopped 19 shots in the Panthers’ third loss in their past four outings.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead on Letang’s goal when Morrow brought the puck out from behind the net to Beau Bennett, who passed out to Letang. His slap-shot got past Markstrom 14 minutes, 49 seconds into the game.
Morrow’s first goal of the game gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead. He poked the puck from behind the goal line at the side of the net and it bounced off Markstrom and into the net at 18:27.
Trailing 2-0, the Panthers closed to 2-1 on a goal by Upshall in the second. After his initial shot was blocked, Upshall was able to poke in the rebound at 4:10.
Morrow settled the contest in Pittsburgh’s favor when he added an empty-netter with 21 seconds left.
Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an upper body injury. The Penguins were also without Sidney Crosby, who is out with a broken jaw.
In Uniondale, New York, defenseman Dan Girardi scored 3:11 into overtime to give the New York Rangers a stirring 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders in a game that felt like a playoff matchup between the rivals.
Henrik Lundqvist and Islanders counterpart Evgeni Nabokov staged a classic goalie duel that seemed destined to go to a shootout, but Girardi finished off a rush by flipping a shot over Nabokov’s shoulder.
The Rangers are eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff race, one point behind the Islanders. The Rangers lead ninth-place Winnipeg by two points with seven games remaining — one more than the Jets.
In Denver, Colorado, Jan Hejda scored with 7.6 seconds remaining and Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 24 shots to help Colorado rally for a 4-3 victory over Vancouver.
Hejda scored on a shot from just inside the blue line that beat a screened Cory Schneider.
Gabriel Landeskog, Cody McLeod and P.A. Parenteau also scored to help the Avalanche beat the Canucks for the first time since Jan. 18, 2011.
Elsewhere, the Buffalo Sabres beat the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0, Mark Letestu and Cam Atkinson scored in a shootout to lift Columbus over Minnesota 3-2 and the Toronto Maple Leafs thrashed the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.
Also on Saturday, the Washington Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5 in overtime, the Carolina Hurricanes accounted for the Boston Bruins 4-2, the Calgary Flames earned a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers, the Dallas Stars edged the San Jose Sharks 2-1 and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-1.
Additional reporting by staff writer