Best of NHL: Penguins strike quick in OT for win over Sabres

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Best of NHL: Penguins strike quick in OT for win over Sabres

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby ended a long goal drought and assisted on Conor Sheary's game-winner 16 seconds into overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Crosby scored his sixth of the season, Sheary had a pair of goals and Patric Hornqvist added one for Pittsburgh. Phil Kessel got his eighth of the season and has goals in four straight games. Kessel, the team's leading scorer, has at least one point in five straight games -- and 16 of 20 this season.

Matt Murray made 28 saves for the Penguins, who won their sixth in a row at home. Pittsburgh is 12-0-1 in its last 13 games against the Sabres, including seven consecutive wins at home.

Pittsburgh, which lost six of its previous eight games, played 13 of its first 19 on the road, including six back-to-backs, and is 4-7-2 away from home. The Penguins play 13 of their next 19 at home, where they have won six of their last seven.

Jack Eichel also ended a scoring drought with his fifth goal of the season. Sam Reinhart, Benoit Pouliot and Evander Kane also scored for Buffalo.

Kane has 10 goals in 18 games this season. He's off to the best start of his career, topping his mark of 10 goals in 22 games during the 2011-12 season.

Robin Lehner made 40 saves for the Sabres, who lost for the sixth time in eight games and haven't won in Pittsburgh since April 2, 2013 (see full recap).

Ekholm, Fiala help Predators double up Capitals
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mattias Ekholm and Kevin Fiala each had a goal and an assist to lead the streaking Nashville Predators past the Washington Capitals 6-3 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Craig Smith, Nick Bonino, Filip Forsberg and Miikka Salomaki also scored for Nashville. Pekka Rinne made 26 saves, and 12 players had at least one point for the Predators.

T.J. Oshie scored twice and Alex Chiasson also had a goal for Washington, which had won two consecutive games.

Smith scored the first goal at 11:48 of the opening period. On a delayed penalty to the Capitals, he redirected Fiala's shot past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby for his sixth of the season.

The goal came on Nashville's 12th shot of the period. Washington had not registered a shot on Rinne to that point. The Predators ended the first with an 18-3 shots advantage.

Bonino made it 2-0 at 17:43. Standing just to Holtby's right side, Bonino tipped Roman Josi's wrister from the top of the left circle for his second goal of the season.

Bonino missed Nashville's previous 11 games with a lower-body injury (see full recap).

Werenski gives Blue Jackets overtime victory
MONTREAL -- Zach Werenski scored 1:09 into overtime, lifting the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Josh Anderson had a goal 2:29 into the game for Columbus, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves, allowing only a goal to Paul Byron early in the third period.

Charlie Lindgren, making his fifth consecutive start for Montreal, stopped 23 shots. Werenski beat him with a wrist shot to the roof of the net on his glove side.

Anderson got his team-leading seventh goal after Montreal's Brandon Davidson tipped Markus Nutivaara's point shot right to Anderson. He let the puck drop before batting it past Lindgren. Davidson was also at fault seconds earlier when Nutivaara intercepted his failed clearance at the blue line.

The goal came on Columbus' second shot of the game.

Byron, playing his 300th NHL game, came close to equalizing midway through the second period. With the Canadiens playing short-handed, Byron stole the puck from Seth Jones at the blue line and moved in alone on Bobrovsky, but the Blue Jackets goalie got his pad on the shot.

The Canadiens upped the pressure in the third period, but Bobrovsky was again up to the challenge (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.