UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Matt Stajan scored his second goal of the game with 1:08 left in overtime to give the Toronto Maple Leafs an important 4-3 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Stajan came around the net, fought off two checks and sent a backhand from the high slot between the pads of a screened Garth Snow.
Toronto also got goals from Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin. Jean-Sebastien Aubin stopped 23 shots for the Leafs, who are three points behind Tampa Bay for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have three games remaining.
Blue Jackets 4, Blues 1
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Pascal Leclaire stopped 26 shots and four players scored goals to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Sergei Fedorov, Mark Hartigan, Aaron Johnson and Manny Malhotra had goals for the Blue Jackets, who ended a three-game losing skid that came on the heels of a franchise-best six-game winning streak.
Thrashers 5, Capitals 3
ATLANTA – The Atlanta Thrashers aren’t giving up on their first trip to the playoffs.
Marian Hossa scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period, added an empty netter with 25 seconds to go and the Thrashers defeated the Washington Capitals 5-3 to pull within two points of Tampa Bay for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Penguins 5, Rangers 3
PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby had a goal and three assists to close within three points of becoming the youngest player to have a 100-point season in the NHL, and the Pittsburgh Penguins further stalled the New York Rangers’ bid to win their first division title since 1994 with a 5-3 victory Thursday night.
The Rangers stayed three points ahead of the Flyers, who lost 4-1 to New Jersey, in an Atlantic Division race that could be decided when the teams play Saturday in Philadelphia.
Predators 4, Wild 2
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Sillinger scored two goals, and the Nashville Predators clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Nashville came into the game needing only two points to clinch the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, and even an Anaheim loss in regulation at Edmonton later Thursday night would have clinched the highest seeding yet for a franchise making only its second playoff appearance.
Panthers 5, Senators 4
OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators clinched the Northeast Division title despite losing 5-4 in overtime to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Daniel Alfredsson scored with 2 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 4 and send the game to OT, earning the Senators the point that clinched the division title.
Joe Nieuwendyk won the game for Florida, scoring 3:30 into the extra period.
Senators center Bryan Smolinski won a faceoff to the right of Roberto Luongo with 3.2 seconds left and Dany Heatley passed the puck back to Alfredsson, who fired a slap shot from the right point just over Luongo’s glove for his 42nd of the season.
Heatley collected his 100th point of the season on the play.
Ottawa remains atop the Eastern Conference with 111 points. The Senators, who finished 29-9-3 overall at home, had a season-high four-game losing streak prior to Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win over Boston.