Jason Pominville scored his team-leading 24th goal and the Sabres inched closer to clinching the Northeast Division title with a 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers last night in Buffalo.
Raffi Torres had three assists in his first game back after missing six because of a hand injury, and Ryan Miller made 13 saves for his 39th victory — one short of matching a career high. The injury-depleted Sabres also got production from their role players as defenseman Henrik Tallinder, fourth-liner Adam Mair, and rookies Tim Kennedy, Nathan Gerbe, and Tyler Ennis also scored.
Buffalo (43-23-10) won for the seventh time in eight games to move 7 points ahead of second-place Ottawa in the division with 11 days left in the regular season.
Michael Frolik and Jeff Taffe scored for Florida.
The Panthers extended their winless string to four (0-3-1), and looked like a team with little to play for. After Taffe opened the scoring less than two minutes in, Florida gave up four straight goals and was eventually outshot, 41-15.
Lightning 2, Penguins 0 — Steven Stamkos scored his 46th goal to edge within one of league leader Sidney Crosby and visiting Tampa Bay prevented Pittsburgh from gaining ground in the Eastern Conference race.
Blackhawks 4, Wild 0— Antti Niemi made 21 saves for his seventh shutout of the season and third in seven games and visiting Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak.
Ducks 5, Avalanche 2 — Jason Blake had a goal and four assists, Saku Koivu added a goal and three assists and visiting Anaheim kept its slim playoff hopes alive while dealing a setback to Colorado’s.
Hurricanes 2, Canadiens 1 — Eric Staal scored 2:55 into the third period and Cam Ward made 34 saves to lead Carolina to victory in Montreal.
Stars 5, Sharks 1 — Steve Ott had three goals for his first career hat trick, scoring shorthanded in the opening minutes and adding even-strength and power-play goals in host Dallas’s victory over San Jose.
Flames 2, Coyotes 1 — Miikka Kiprusoff made 29 saves and host Calgary beat Phoenix to move within 2 points of eighth-place Colorado for the final Western Conference playoff spot.