Sergei Kostitsyn snapped a third-period tie with a deflected goal and the Montreal Canadiens stretched their winning streak to six with a 3-1 victory over the Rangers in New York last night in the 600th meeting between the Original Six rivals.
Kostitsyn nudged the puck in front and was rewarded when it caromed in off the skate of Rangers forward Artem Anisimov at 5:59. Frustrated goalie Henrik Lundqvist bent over backward and stared at the ceiling in disgust.
Montreal’s winning streak is its longest since an eight-game spurt in 2006. The Canadiens built their playoff cushion over the ninth-place Rangers to 7 points. New York dropped 3 points behind the Bruins and the Eastern Conference’s postseason cutoff.
Glen Metropolit staked the Canadiens to a 1-0 lead in the first with a power-play goal. Sean Avery made it 1-1 in the second for New York, which was outshot, 35-20.
Jaroslav Halak has been in goal for each victory in the Canadiens’ streak. Tomas Plekanec’s empty-net, shorthanded goal with 35.5 seconds left sealed the win.
Avery tied it 2:02 into the second on New York’s first shot of the period and seventh of the game. Avery got credit for the goal when defenseman Matt Gilroy’s shot from the right point hit him while Avery was being knocked to the ice by hulking defenseman Hal Gill.
It was Avery’s 11th goal of the season and third in two games since he was benched for the Rangers’ win at Atlanta Friday. Avery scored twice Sunday in his return to the lineup.
Montreal used its NHL-best road power play to take a 1-0 lead. While Brandon Prust was off for holding, former Rangers center Scott Gomez cleanly won a faceoff against Chris Drury and got the puck to Andrei Markov in the slot. Markov’s drive clipped Metropolit and caromed past the surprised Lundqvist at 3:34 for his 16th this season — 10th on the power play.
Capitals 7, Panthers 3 — Brooks Laich scored twice and five other Washington players had goals to lift the shorthanded visitors over Florida.
The Capitals were without star Alex Ovechkin, suspended two games for a hit on Chicago’s Brian Campbell Sunday.
Nicklas Backstrom, Eric Fehr, Brendan Morrison, Jason Chimera, and Alexander Semin scored for the Capitals.
Thrashers 4, Sabres 3 — Ryan Miller was pulled after giving up three goals in the first six minutes and Jim Slater’s third-period goal gave host Atlanta the win over Northeast-leading Buffalo.
Maple Leafs 4, Senators 1 — Phil Kessel scored his 26th goal and John Mitchell and Mikhail Grabovski scored 19 seconds apart in the second period, leading Toronto over host Ottawa.
Islanders 5, Canucks 2 — Rookie John Tavares scored twice and had three assists as the visiting Islanders wiggled into 12th place in the crammed lower half of the East standings, 7 points behind the eighth-place Bruins.
Coyotes 3, Lightning 1 — Vernon Fiddler and Matthew Lombardi scored in a two-minute span midway through the first period, Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 27 shots, and Phoenix beat host Tampa Bay.
Wild 4, Oilers 2 — Chuck Kobasew scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period and Minnesota beat Edmonton for the 13th straight time at home.
Avalanche 5, Blues 3 — Peter Mueller scored twice in a three-point game that matched his career best and Paul Stastny netted his fifth goal in three games to go with two assists, helping visiting Colorado sweep the season series against St. Louis.
Predators 4, Flyers 3 — Martin Erat scored the only goal of the shootout to lead host Nashville over Philadelphia.
Stars 8, Sharks 2 — Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow each scored twice, including shorthanded goals in the third period, Kari Lehtonen made 44 saves in his second start of the season, and host Dallas boosted its fading playoff chances with a rout of San Jose.