Jason Spezza and the Ottawa Senators served notice to the Montreal Canadiens that they have every intention of defending their Northeast Division title.
Spezza scored two goals and Martin Gerber stopped 28 shots for his second shutout, leading Ottawa to a 3-0 win in Montreal last night.
Spezza scored on a power play in the first period. He hit the 30-goal mark for the second straight season with another goal in the middle frame.
Antoine Vermette also scored for the Senators, who won their third in a row to draw even with Montreal with 87 points.
Ottawa took over the division lead by virtue of their 40th win, one more than the Canadiens. Both teams have 10 games remaining. The Senators, Canadiens, and Pittsburgh Penguins trail East-leading New Jersey by 1 point.
"You don't want to put too much stock in one game, but it was an important game for us," said Spezza, who had stitches on the left side of his mouth after he was high-sticked by Guillaume Latendresse in the third period.
"We were ready right from yesterday in practice, we were snapping it around pretty good. This morning we were pretty focused. From here on in they're pretty important games so we've got to get ourselves geared up. I thought we played like a good, solid team and we played a playoff-type game."
Devils 4, Wild 3 - Jamie Langenbrunner scored the winner for visiting New Jersey to seal a shootout victory. Langenbrunner was the only successful shooter.
He faked to his left and went right to deke goalie Niklas Backstrom, who lost his third shootout in as many games.
Thrashers 6, Flames 4 - Bobby Holik scored on a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk in the closing minutes and host Atlanta overcame a three-goal deficit for only its second win in 12 games.
Kovalchuk scored into an empty net with 1:01 remaining, completing a hat trick and pushing his goal total to 48 this season.
Coyotes 2, Canucks 0 - Ilya Bryzgalov had 24 saves for his fifth career shutout and host Phoenix pulled within 3 points of eighth-place Vancouver in the Western Conference race. Niko Kapanen and Daniel Winnik each scored and Martin Hanzal had two assists.
Red Wings 5, Stars 3 - Pavel Datsyuk had two goals and an assist as host Detroit rallied to beat Dallas.
Kings 4, Predators 1 - Alexander Frolov scored two goals for visiting Los Angeles. Kevin Dallman and Matt Ellis also scored for the Kings.
Avalanche 5, Oilers 1 - Jaroslav Hlinka and Tyler Arnason each had a goal and an assist, helping host Colorado move into sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division.