Blue Jackets snap modest skid, move up in jumbled Metro

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Blue Jackets snap modest skid, move up in jumbled Metro

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Seth Jones had a goal an assist, and Joonas Korpisalo made 39 shots to help the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Wednesday night.

Lukas Sedlak, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Alexander Wennberg also scored for the Blue Jackets, who never trailed in snapping a two-game losing streak. That moved them into a tie for second place in a traffic jam of teams battling for the top spot in tough Metropolitan Division.

Korpisalo, starting in place of Sergei Bobrovsky on the first night of a back-to-back, allowed a first-period goal to Jake Gardiner and another in the third to Mitchell Marner in playing one of his strongest games of the season. Toronto (21-14-1) has lost four of its last five.

Former Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney, starting for Toronto in place of Frederik Andersen on the second leg of a back-to-back, had 33 saves.

Sedak scored for the Blue Jackets (21-13-1) with about seven minutes left in the first period. Matt Calvert gathered in the puck in the right corner and fired out to Sedlak, who spun and snapped it in off McElhinney's hip.

Jones got a short-handed goal with 1:15 left in the period. He intercepted a pass in the defensive zone, carried the puck all the way and back and wristed it past McElhinney's glove for his sixth of the season.

The Maple Leafs cut it to 2-1 at 4:26 into the second period after William Nylander knocked down a Columbus pass and set up Gardiner with a nice circle-to-circle pass.

The Blue Jackets answered with a power-play goal, with Cam Atkinson shoveling a rebound out from the back wall to Dubois, who tapped it in. Jones also picked up a helper on the goal.

Wennberg capped the scoring for Columbus in the third period, with Atkinson getting his second assist. Marner then made it 4-2 with about three minutes left (see full recap).

Hamilton breaks tie in 3rd as Flames edge Blues
CALGARY, Alberta -- Dougie Hamilton broke a tie at 7:57 of the third period and the Calgary Flames beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Wednesday night.

After goalie Carter Hutton stopped an initial shot from the blue line, Ivan Barbashev was about to skate away with the rebound when Hamilton swung at the puck and, all in one motion, knocked it off Barbashev's stick and into the goal.

Michael Frolik also scored for Calgary.

Brayden Schenn had his team-leading 17th goal for St. Louis. The Blues have lost four of five.

St. Louis tied it at 1 on a power play 1:26 into the second. After hitting the blue line with speed, Schenn neatly stepped around flat-footed Troy Brouwer and fired a shot inside the goal post on Mike Smith.

Frolik opened the scoring at 7:58 of the first when he was set up alone in front by Mikael Backlund. Hutton made the initial stop, but the rebound went high in the air, deflected off a Blues player and just crossed the line before being cleared away by Tage Thompson.

Not ruled a goal originally, play continued on for about 45 seconds before the arena horn sounded and the Flames started celebrating with Frolik at the bench. The league had immediately reviewed play and had determined the puck did go in.

Smith made 21 saves to improve to 13-11-3. His best save came halfway through the third when he jabbed out his blocker to deny Alex Steen from 20 feet out. Hutton made 31 stops in his first start since his 48-save shutout of the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday (see full recap).

Blues put an end to Blue Jackets' 10-game winning streak

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Blues put an end to Blue Jackets' 10-game winning streak

COLUMBUS, Ohio —The St. Louis Blues got things going early and put an end to the Columbus Blue Jackets' 10-game winning streak with a big victory over their own.

Jake Allen made 33 saves, Alexander Steen scored on St. Louis' first shot of the game, and the Blues beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 on Saturday night.

"It was a huge win for us, especially when Colorado wins this afternoon," Allen said. "Points are crucial right now. Let's just take it one step at a time. And we will figure out the standings at the end."

St. Louis has 89 points - one behind Colorado, which beat Vegas 2-1 in a shootout, and Minnesota, which played Saturday night.

"Approaching every game like the season is on the line," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "The challenge for us now is to make sure that doesn't change. I am very pleased and very proud of the group. There is an awful lot of character inside our locker room, and I love that it's on full display right now." (See full recap.)

Capitals tighten grip on 1st in Metro
MONTREAL —  Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson each scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom had four assists as the Washington Capitals defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-4 on Saturday night.

Jay Beagle and T.J. Oshie also scored for Washington (44-24-7), which strengthened its grip on first place in the Metropolitan Division. Backstrom posted his 20th career game with at least four points and second this season.

Charles Hudon scored twice for Montreal (27-37-12), which was coming off a 3-0 win at Buffalo on Friday night. Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher each had a goal for the Canadiens, who are 2-8-2 in their last 12 games (see full recap).

Kinkaid saves 35 shots as Devils pick up key win over Lightning 
NEWARK, N.J. — While Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier have been getting much of the credit for New Jersey's surprising playoff push, goaltender Keith Kinkaid has been the one carrying the Devils back to the postseason the past two weeks.

Kinkaid made 35 saves and the Devils took another major step toward making the playoffs for the first time since 2012 with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

Hischier and Kyle Palmieri scored for New Jersey, which has elevated its playoff chances with wins in five of seven games - including outstanding efforts in beating the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Eastern Conference-leading Lightning on consecutive nights.

"Keith has been a difference maker," Devils coach John Hynes said of Kinkaid, who had 75 saves the past two nights. "He has really come in and played well. He has made key saves at key times. He obviously won quite a few games and been a real important factor for us in remaining competitive in the playoff race. We would like to see him continue that at that level, as well." (See full recap.)

Why have Penguins dominated Flyers recently?

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Why have Penguins dominated Flyers recently?

VOORHEES, N.J. — The keys to the Keystone State Rivalry are now in the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have been in the driver’s seat recently in their feud with the Flyers.

The Penguins are on the verge of a season sweep for the first time since taking all eight meetings during the Flyers' disastrous 2006-07 season.

It’s a complete turnaround from the Flyers' eight-game winning streak from November 2013 to April 2015. PPG Paints Arena, formerly known as Consol Energy Center, could also be commonly referred to as Wells Fargo Center West.

However, in the Dave Hakstol era, which has also coincided with the Mike Sullivan era in Pittsburgh, the ice has been tilted toward Lake Erie. The Flyers are just 3-7-1 against the Penguins over the past three years.

Over time, that vitriolic and acrimonious attitude seems to be missing from a once-bitter feud and the Flyers seemed to thrive off that animosity.

“There’s not as many fights as we used to and not as many hits,” captain Claude Giroux said. “If you don’t take care of the puck and you don’t play smart out there, it’s going to cost your team.”

Since the third period of their first game in November, there have been costly mistakes and very little pushback from the Flyers. They’ve been outscored 14-4 in their last seven periods and a brief overtime against the Penguins.

“It’s a matter of us going out and being ourselves for a full 60 minutes,” Hakstol said. “We haven’t done that against Pittsburgh and you’ve got to credit them for that. They can push teams off balance.”

And clearly, the Penguins have presented a matchup problem for the Flyers, regardless of which team has owned last change. Sidney Crosby has thrived this season with a plus-6 rating against the Flyers.

With Sean Couturier serving as Evgeni Malkin’s shadow dating back to his rookie season in 2011-12, Giroux had been tasked with matching up with Crosby’s line. Now with Couturier and Giroux paired together, the task of containing Crosby has shifted elsewhere, whether it’s been Valtteri Filppula, Scott Laughton or Nolan Patrick.

The Flyers' 19-year-old rookie center has quickly discovered what works and what doesn’t against arguably the NHL’s best all-around player.

“You have to be a little more defensive-minded when (Crosby) is out there, and even Malkin too,” Patrick said. “Crosby’s not really a guy you can go after and knock the puck off. You just got to try and contain them and have a good stick on him.”

“I don’t think we’ve given them our best effort so far this year,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “We were a little timid last time. We were trying to feel out the game and see what kind of game it was going to be, rather than dictate the play.”

The Flyers haven’t exhibited their best effort against any team recently, and no need to prove a point against the Penguins this late in the season.

The Flyers simply need points and the Penguins just happen to be the next team on the schedule.