Best of NHL: Lightning use shutout to snap modest 2-game skid

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Best of NHL: Lightning use shutout to snap modest 2-game skid

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves in his second shutout this season, and the Tampa Bay Lightning ended a two-game skid with a 2-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

Defenseman Dan Girardi and rookie Mikhail Sergachev had goals for the Lightning in the third of a four-game trip. Tampa Bay is off to the best start in franchise history (17-5-2) but had lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Vasilevskiy leads the NHL with 16 wins and has six career shutouts in 101 starts.

Robin Lehner stopped 24 shots for the Sabres, who were held scoreless for the second straight game and have lost nine of 10.

Sergachev scored his sixth goal of the year on a power play to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead late in the first period. Tampa Bay has scored a power-play goal in nine of its last 10 games and leads the NHL in conversion rate.

Girardi got his first goal of the season midway through the second period. Girardi's slap shot from the top of the right circle deflected in off Buffalo's Marco Scandella (see full recap).

Blue Jackets notch SO win over Hurricanes
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin scored in the shootout to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Zach Werenski had a goal and an assist, and Josh Anderson also scored for the Blue Jackets, who won their first game after their season-best six-game winning streak ended. Columbus has won five in a row at home.

Joonas Korpisalo, making a rare start in place of Sergei Bobrovsky, made 29 saves in regulation and overtime and stopped two more shots in the shootout for the Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky leads the league in save percentage and goals-against average and got his first night off in three weeks as Korpisalo made his fifth start.

Noah Hanifan scored in the first period for Carolina, and Brock McGinn tied it midway through the third. Scott Darling had 36 saves for the Hurricanes, who had gone 6-3-1 in their past 10 games.

Columbus outshot Carolina 5-2 in overtime (see full recap).

Kopitar, Quick lead Kings to victory
DETROIT -- Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar scored 2:10 apart late in the second period to put the Los Angeles Kings ahead and they went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Jonathan Quick made 23 saves, including some spectacular stops in the second period that kept the Kings within a goal.

His teammates took advantage.

After Brown and Kopitar puts the Kings ahead, they pulled away in the third. Adrian Kempe scored early in the period and Kopitar's second goal of the game gave Los Angeles a three-goal cushion with 7-plus minutes left.

The Red Wings started strong, but couldn't recover when they failed to get another shot past Quick.

Detroit's Mike Green broke a scoreless tie late in the second period and Jimmy Howard finished with 32 saves.

The Kings have won two straight after losing three in a row and seven of eight.

The Red Wings have lost five straight, one shy of their season-long skid from last month, after winning six of the previous nine games (see full recap).

Devils' Hall wastes no time in overtime

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Devils' Hall wastes no time in overtime

PITTSBURGH -- Taylor Hall beat Matt Murray on a breakaway 27 seconds into overtime to lift the New Jersey Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

Hall was all alone when Nico Hischier found him with a long lead pass. Hall then slipped the puck between Murray's legs for his 33rd goal of the season as New Jersey picked up two vital points in the race for one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference.

Hall added two assists for New Jersey. Hischier finished with a goal and an assist, and Blake Coleman and Will Butcher also scored for the Devils. Keith Kincaid made 40 stops for the Devils, who finished a season-high six-game road trip 4-2.

Sidney Crosby scored his 25th of the season for Pittsburgh. Brian Dumolin and Phil Kessel scored in the third period as the Penguins erased a two-goal deficit. Murray finished with 30 saves as the Penguins lost for just the second time in their last 17 home games.

New Jersey's drive to end a six-year playoff drought has stalled since the All-Star break. A lopsided loss in San Jose dropped the Devils to just 13-12 since Jan. 30 and skated onto the ice at PPG Paints Arena with a tenuous grasp on the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference (see full recap).

Bruins win on Pastrnak’s last-second goal
DALLAS -- David Pastrnak broke a tie with 12 seconds left and the Boston Bruins scored three straight goals in the third period to rally past the fading Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.

A scramble followed a faceoff in the Dallas end, and Brad Marchand passed to Pastrnak in front. While falling down, he put the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

Tuukka Rask made a season-high 40 saves for the Bruins. Marchand scored Boston's first goal and also assisted on a short-handed goal by Tim Schaller that tied it midway through the third period.

The second-place Bruins won for the first time in three games (1-0-2) to move within four points of Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay. Boston has already clinched a playoff berth.

The Stars are winless in their last seven games (0-5-2). They remained four points behind Colorado for the second Western Conference wild card (see full recap).

Berglund, Blues push win streak to 4
ST. LOUIS -- Patrik Berglund scored twice and the surging St. Louis Blues beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Dmitrij Jaskin also scored for St. Louis. Jake Allen made 19 saves in his eighth straight start as the Blues won for the sixth time in seven games.

Sam Gagner scored for Vancouver, which has lost eight of nine. Anders Nilsson stopped 21 shots.

The Blues swept the season series and have won their last five games against the Canucks.

Tarasenko extended the lead to 3-1 just 14 seconds into the third period, slipping Jaden Schwartz's pass between Nilsson's legs. Tarasenko missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury.

Jaskin's sixth goal of the season with 2:29 left sealed it for St. Louis (see full recap).

5 crucial developments behind Flyers' playoff push

5 crucial developments behind Flyers' playoff push

With seven games to go, the Flyers are in playoff position.

They sit in the Eastern Conference's top wild-card spot, four points ahead of the next-closest team, while also lurking just one point out of third place and two out of second in the Metropolitan Division.

You would have been hard-pressed to envision such a scenario back when the Flyers had lost 10 straight games and were in dead last of the Metro on Dec. 2.

But, through the streaks — both good and bad — here the Flyers are.

So how did they get here?

Let's look at five keys:

1. Giroux, period
The revitalization has been astounding. 

Claude Giroux's precipitous turnaround is the biggest reason the Flyers find themselves smelling postseason hockey again.

At age 30 and coming off a career low in goals for a full season and a third straight drop-off in scoring, the Flyers' captain has buried those 14 markers and 58 points in the past. This season, he has 26 goals and an NHL-high 64 assists, while reaching the 90-point plateau for the second time in his career. 

When the regular season is over, he will very likely own new career highs in goals, assists and points.

Tip your hat to the guy.

2. Do-it-all Coots
Sean Couturier has done yeoman's work in his breakout year.

Obviously the team-best 30 goals are nice, but he does so much more for this team.

He plays the third-most minutes (21:38) among all NHL forwards, leads the Flyers in PK time by a landslide and his plus-26 rating is top 10 in the league.

3. The kid is here
With a greater role, Travis Konecny has made a crucial jump in Year 2.

Since Dec. 28, the 21-year-old has put up 34 points (18 goals, 16 assists) and a plus-17 rating in 38 games, a stretch in which the Flyers are 22-12-4.

And since Jan. 20, Konecny has the same number of goals (16) as Alex Ovechkin and Nathan MacKinnon.

4. Defensive leaders
While the Flyers have stomached inconsistency and change on defense, Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere have served as two pillars.

Imagine if one of the two got hurt? Or if Provorov endured a sophomore slump and Gostisbehere didn't rebound from his own last season?

Who knows where the Flyers would be.

Provorov and Gostisbehere are first and third, respectively, in minutes per game on the team, while both have netted 13 goals with "Ghost" leading all NHL blueliners in power-play tallies (seven) and man-advantage points (29).

It's not just offense, either. Provorov is ultra steady and Gostisbehere has improved in his own end.

5. Lookin' like No. 2
Nolan Patrick's numbers don't jump off the page, but his evolvement from the start of the season to now is one of the bigger storylines of this season.

Following an underwhelming first 40 games (with an injury mixed in), the second overall pick now looks supremely comfortable and makes a clear impact, even when he's not scoring.

The 19-year-old is playing well centering Jakub Voracek and Oskar Lindblom on the second line and showed tons of power-play potential filling in for an injured Wayne Simmonds.

Patrick has 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in his last 26 games after recording nine (three goals, six assists) in his first 40.

He's been a different player.