Tomas Plekanec and Travis Moen scored early in the first and second periods, and the Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price made 26 saves to blank the Penguins, 3-0, yesterday in Pittsburgh.
Price notched his eighth shutout this season, 12th of his career, and he has allowed seven goals in starting the past six games.
The Canadiens are 2 points behind the third-place Bruins in the Eastern Conference, having won six of their past seven.
A five-game winning streak had been broken with a 4-1 loss Thursday at St. Louis, and the team was coping with the loss Tuesday of winger Max Pacioretty, who sustained a severe concussion and fractured vertebra from a hard hit by the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara.
The first of Montreal’s quick strikes came 46 seconds into the game in the form of Plekanec’s 21st goal, second-most on the team. He beat Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal on the faceoff, slipped around Staal, and backhanded a pass from Mike Cammalleri behind goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Canadiens struck just 24 seconds into the second period on Moen’s one-timer. The play began with Scott Gomez intercepting a breakout pass by Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, and Brian Gionta fed Moen atop the right circle.
Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 3 — Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel scored in a 2:33 span early in the third period and James Reimer made a great save on Tomas Vanek in the period in Toronto’s comeback win over visiting Buffalo.
Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak also scored to help the Maple Leafs move within 4 points of the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Mike Weber, Jochen Hecht, and Jordan Leopold scored for Buffalo. The Sabres finished a seven-game trip 4-2-1.
Thrashers 5, Flyers 4 — Ron Hainsey scored in overtime for Atlanta, which pulled off a three-goal rally and overcame Ville Leino’s hat trick to defeat host Philadelphia.
Andrew Ladd tied the game, 4-4, by scoring with 45 seconds left in regulation. At 1:17 of overtime, Evander Kane carried the puck down the right side, controlled it around sliding defenseman Kimmo Timonen, and centered a pass to Hainsey.
Canucks 4, Flames 3 — NHL leading scorer Daniel Sedin had two goals and an assist in Vancouver’s victory in Calgary.
In a clash between the league’s top two teams since Christmas, the game took on a playoff feel. It was especially important for the Flames, who are locked in a desperate fight for a postseason spot in the congested Western Conference.
Rangers 3, Sharks 2 — Brandon Dubinsky scored the winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout, lifting visiting New York over San Jose.
Wojtek Wolski scored the only other goal in the shootout for the Rangers, who rode 31 saves by Henrik Lundqvist through overtime for a thrilling road win. They moved up to seventh in the Eastern Conference, 2 points ahead of Buffalo and 4 over ninth-place Carolina.
Blue Jackets 3, Hurricanes 2 — Derek MacKenzie had two goals and Steve Mason made 29 saves as Columbus beat host Carolina.
Samuel Pahlsson added a goal for the Blue Jackets, who snapped a seven-game losing streak (0-4-3). Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu had goals and Cam Ward made 25 saves as Carolina dropped its fourth straight.
Panthers 4, Lightning 3 — Jason Garrison scored with 16 seconds left in overtime to lift host Florida over Tampa Bay.
Vincent Lecavalier and Simon Gagne scored in the third period for Tampa Bay to erase a 3-1 deficit.
Devils 3, Islanders 2 — Anssi Salmela scored his first goal of the season 3:09 into overtime to give host New Jersey a win over New York.
Red Wings 5, Blues 3 — Pavel Datsyuk scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period, one night after netting the overtime winner, and visiting Detroit bounced back after squandering a two-goal lead and beat St. Louis.
Predators 4, Avalanche 2 — Joel Ward’s unassisted goal in the second period helped host Nashville send Colorado to its eighth straight loss and 18th defeat in 19 games.