Joe Thornton scored the tying goal and Marcel Goc broke a third-period tie with a rebound goal past rookie Peter Budaj, and the San Jose Sharks bolstered their playoff hopes with a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche last night in Denver.
Goc's goal at 2:48 gave the Sharks their first lead, and it stood up. San Jose moved into a tie with eighth-place Vancouver in the Western Conference.
San Jose's Vesa Toskala surrendered a goal to Andrew Brunette when the puck bounced off his mask at 12:24 of the first period but was otherwise flawless. He recorded 25 saves to improve to 18-7-4.
Joe Sakic stretched his point streak to 11 games with the assist on Brunette's goal. The Avalanche, who survived a five-on-three disadvantage early in the second period, clung to their 1-0 lead until Thornton's rebound goal off Nils Ekman's shot with 2 1/2 minutes left in the second period.
Thrashers 5, Panthers 2 -- Scott Mellanby and Marian Hossa scored third-period goals to power Atlanta at Sunrise, Fla.
The Thrashers moved within 5 points of eighth-place Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have seven games to play. Florida is 8 points behind the playoff cutoff with six games left.
Sabres 5, Senators 4 -- Daniel Briere scored twice, including the winner with 47 seconds left in overtime, lifting Buffalo over visiting Ottawa.
Maxim Afinogenov had a goal and three assists, while Derek Roy and Rory Fitzpatrick also scored for Buffalo, which improved to 47-23-6, marking the team's most victories since winning 48 in 1983-84.
Devils 6, Penguins 4 -- Patrik Elias had three goals and two assists to lead New Jersey over Pittsburgh at East Rutherford, N.J.
Scott Gomez added a goal and three assists for the Devils. Zach Parise and Brian Rafalski also scored and Martin Brodeur made 25 saves as New Jersey (40-27-9) reached 40 wins for the ninth straight season.
Hurricanes 4, Capitals 3 -- Mutt Cullen scored the only goal in the shootout, giving visiting Carolina the victory and moving the Hurricanes within 2 points of Ottawa for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Brian Willsie, Alex Ovechkin, and Brooks Laich all failed to beat Hurricanes goaltender Martin Gerber in the shootout, while Cullen became the first player this season to solve Washington goalie Brent Johnson in a shootout. Johnson had stopped all six previous shootout shots he had faced.
Maple Leafs 3, Islanders 2 -- Alexei Ponikarovsky scored a tiebreaking goal with 2:02 remaining as host Toronto moved within 6 points of eighth-place Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference.
Darcy Tucker, who hadn't scored in 16 games, had two goals in Toronto's come-from-behind win. The Islanders were eliminated from the playoffs with their fifth consecutive loss.
Blackhawks 4, Predators 3 -- Rene Bourque had a goal and two assists as host Chicago handed Nashville its sixth loss in seven games.