Sabres cut down Senators in OT

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BUFFALO, N.Y. – Daniel Briere scored twice, including the winner with 47 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.

Maxim Afinogenov had a goal and three assists, while Derek Roy and Rory Fitzpatrick also scored for Buffalo which improved to 47-23-6, marking the team’s most victories since winning 48 in 1983-84.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff (300-266-84) became the 31st NHL coach to win 300 games, and 16th to do so with the same team.

Daniel Alfredsson, Patrick Eaves, Christoph Schubert and Chris Kelly scored for the Senators, who squandered 3-1 and 4-3 leads.

Briere’s winner came on the power play after Brian Pothier hooked Afinogenov to prevent a clearcut breakaway. Alone at the right post, Afinogenov set up the decisive goal when he fed a pass through the crease to a wide-open Briere, who jammed it in the open side.

The goal capped a big night for Briere, who tied the game, scoring with 39 seconds left in regulation.

Hurricanes 4, Capitals 3

WASHINGTON – Mutt Cullen scored the only goal in the shootout, giving the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night in the second of three consecutive games between the Southeast Division rivals.

The victory follows Carolina’s 6-5 overtime win over Washington on Monday, and it moved the Hurricanes within two points of Ottawa for first place in the Eastern Conference.

The Senators lost 5-4 in overtime to Buffalo on Wednesday.

The clubs will meet again Friday in Washington, their fifth matchup in two weeks.

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Devils 6, Penguins 4

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Patrik Elias had three goals and two assists to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

Scott Gomez added a goal and three assists for the Devils. Zach Parise and Brian Rafalski also scored and Martin Brodeur made 25 saves as New Jersey (40-27-9) reached 40 wins for the ninth straight season.

The Devils are sixth in the Eastern Conference with 89 points and trail fifth-place Philadelphia by four points.

Andy Hilbert had two goals for the Penguins, and Sidney Crosby and Jani Rita also scored.

Thrashers 5, Panthers 2

SUNRISE, Fla. – Scott Mellanby and Marian Hossa scored third-period goals to lead the Atlanta Thrashers to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.

The Thrashers moved within five points of eighth-place Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have seven games to play. Florida is eight points behind the playoff cutoff with six games left.

Hossa added an empty-net goal with 22.9 seconds remaining and Steve McCarthy and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored for the Thrashers, who had lost three of four after an 11-3 streak.

Leafs 3, Islanders 2

TORONTO – Alexei Ponikarovsky scored a tiebreaking goal with 2:02 remaining and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the New York Islanders 3-2 Wednesday night.

Toronto moved within six points of eighth-place Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference with seven games remaining.

Darcy Tucker, who hadn’t scored in 16 games, had two goals in Toronto’s come-from-behind win.

The Leafs have earned nine of 10 points in their last five games.

Hawks 4, Predators 3

CHICAGO – Rene Bourque had a goal and two assists as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated Nashville 4-3 on Wednesday night, the Predators sixth loss in seven games.

Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Mark Bell also scored for the Blackhawks, who won for just the third time in their last 10 games.

Nashville’s Greg Johnson had a goal and an assist. Dan Hamhuis and Mark Eaton also scored for injury-depleted Nashville.

Sharks 2, Avalanche 1

DENVER – Marcel Goc broke a third-period tie with a rebound goal past rookie Peter Budaj, and the San Jose Sharks bolstered their playoff hopes with a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

Goc’s goal at 2:48 gave the Sharks their first lead, and it stood up. San Jose moved into a tie with eighth-place Vancouver in the Western Conference and within five points of Colorado, which was coming off an exhilarating win over Chicago 48 hours earlier.

The Avs scored twice in the final minute to beat the Blackhawks 4-3 on Monday night but this time there was no last-minute magic.

Colorado failed to get off a shot after Budaj was pulled for an extra skater with a minute remaining.

San Jose’s Vesa Toskala surrendered a goal to Andrew Brunette when the puck bounced off his mask at 12:24 of the first period but was otherwise flawless. He recorded 25 saves to improve to 18-7-4.

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