Panthers leap into wild-card spot; 100 points for Avalanche’s MacKinnon –

April 5, 2023, 1:50 AM

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Matthew Tkachuk snapped a tie in the opening minute of the third period, and the Florida Panthers topped the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Tuesday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Aaron Ekblad also scored for Florida, and Alex Lyon made 39 saves for his fourth straight win.

It’s the longest win streak of the season for the Panthers (40-31-7), who moved into a tie with the New York Islanders for the top spot in the Eastern Conference wild-card standings. Florida owns the first tiebreaker because of its regulation wins.

Pittsburgh is one point behind Florida and New York with four games left for each team.

Dylan Cozens scored for Buffalo, which had won four of five. Devon Levi, a seventh-round pick by Florida who was traded to Buffalo in 2021, made 34 saves in his first loss in two NHL starts.

The Sabres (37-32-7) are six points behind the Panthers and Islanders. The Sabres have six games left.


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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon scored his second goal of the game 3:13 into overtime, and Colorado Avalanche beat San Jose to clinch a playoff spot.

Jack Johnson and Evan Rodrigues also scored for Colorado. Devon Toews and Mikko Rantanen each had two assists, and MacKinnon also had one. Alexandar Georgiev made 28 saves for his 36th win of the season.

Kevin Labanc had two goals, Jacob Peterson also scored and Logan Couture added two assists for San Jose. Kaapo Kahkonen finished with 38 saves.

In the extra period, MacKinnon got a pass from Toews on the right side, skated in on Kahkonen on a breakaway and fired a shot past the goalie’s blocker side for his 36 goal and 100th point of the season.

Peterson scored on the power play 5:50 of the third as he got a pass in front from Danil Gushchin and quickly beat Kahkonen for his second of the season to pull the Sharks to 3-2.

Labanc got his second of the game and 15th of the season to tie it just 1:21 later as he jumped on a loose puck in front, turned and fired it past Georgiev.


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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Dawson Mercer scored his first career hat trick and New Jersey beat fading Pittsburgh, putting the Penguins’ bid for a 17th straight Stanley Cup playoff berth in serious jeopardy.

Dougie Hamilton and Timo Meier also scored for the Devils and Vitek Vanecek made 22 saves as New Jersey rebounded from its worst loss of the season, a 6-1 setback in Winnipeg on Sunday night.

Coupled with Florida’s win over Buffalo, the Panthers moved a point ahead of the Penguins in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have four games left, but they don’t play each other.

Bryan Rust ruined Vanecek’s bid for a fourth shutout this season when he scored his 20th of the season at 6:14 of the third period. Tristan Jarry had 32 saves for the Penguins, whose run of 16 straight postseason appearances is the longest active streak among the major North American sports leagues.

Pittsburgh is 4-7 in its last 11 games, losing three straight on the road.

Despite being outshot and having to kill off two Penguins power plays, the Devils took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Hamilton and Mercer, who now has 27 goals in his second NHL season.


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Cody Glass scored a power-play goal 3:30 into overtime, and the Nashville Predators kept their thin playoff hopes alive by beating the Vegas Golden Knights.

Jonathan Marchessault tripped Philip Tomasino in the slot to put Nashville on the power play in overtime, and the Predators needed only 37 seconds before Glass scored his 14th with his shot deflecting past Vegas goalie Jonathan Quick.

Tommy Novak notched his third two-goal game this season and had an assist on the winning goal. He now has points in 46 games played this season for Nashville. Kevin Lankinen stopped 30 shots.

The Predators came in five points back of the second wild card in the Western Conference with a game in hand on Winnipeg in the second spot. Nashville visits Winnipeg on Saturday night with five games remaining.

Alex Pietrangelo matched his career-high with two goals in the second for Vegas. The Golden Knights snapped a two-game winning streak after coming in with a three-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings atop both the Pacific Division and the West. Quick finished with 24 saves.

The Golden Knights had their own man advantage and chance to win in regulation when Lankinen was penalized for delay of game with 4:30 to go. The Nashville goalie stopped every shot to help kill the penalty.


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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jordan Kyrou scored his 37th goal of the season to help St. Louis beat Philadelphia.

Kyrou has six goals in his last six games. Tyler Pitlick, Justin Faulk and Alexey Toropchenko also scored for the Blues.

Jordan Binnington, starting his 57th game of the season, has won four of his last five starts. He made 32 saves, including 16 in the third period.

The Flyers made it close by scoring twice in the third period on goals by James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Frost.