Ottawa Senators Daniel Alfredsson (11)celebrates his second period goal with teammate Milan Michalek (9) during second period NHL hockey action against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Ottawa on Saturday, March 24, 2012. THE CANADIANPRESS/Fred Chartrand
OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson had two goals and two assists, and the Ottawa Senators dealt Pittsburgh its first regulation loss in 15 games, beating the Penguins 8-4 on Saturday night.
Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in six games since making his second comeback of the season, but it wasn't enough as Pittsburgh fell to 13-1-1 since a 6-2 loss in Buffalo on Feb. 19.
Crosby, who made a spectacular pass to set up one of Matt Cooke's two goals, beat Craig Anderson with a shot into the top right corner 11:43 into the third to draw Pittsburgh within 5-4. He has 11 points since his latest return from concussion-like symptoms.
Jason Spezza increased Ottawa's lead to 6-4 with his 31st goal on a breakaway at 13:16. Alfredsson, who scored a short-handed goal late in the second, added his second of the game at 17:05.
FLYERS 4, CANADIENS 1
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Danny Briere scored a pair of goals, Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves and the Philadelphia Flyers clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Three of Philadelphia's four goals came on the power play, upping the Flyers' league-leading total to 61.
Briere's second goal put the Flyers up 3-1 with 2:20 left in the second period. Jaromir Jagr took a long outlet pass from Bryzgalov at the Flyers' blue-line and flicked it on to Briere, who got one-on-one with Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj and roofed a forehand shot from in close.
Bryzgalov improved his record this month to 10-1-1 while making several excellent saves from close range. The most impressive came in the first period when he stopped Aaron Palushaj and Frederic St-Denis on shots from right in front of the goal. He also denied Erik Cole on a breakaway.
STARS 4, FLAMES 1
DALLAS (AP)—Jamie Benn scored twice, Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves, and the Dallas Stars beat the Calgary Flames in a matchup of Western Conference playoff contenders.
Michael Ryder also scored for the Stars, who improved to 87 points and are in the middle of a six-team scramble along with the Flames (83 points) for one of the final two playoff spots.
The Stars had moved into the Pacific Division lead with a 10-0-1 run, but they'd lost three of their previous four to tumble out of the top spot in the division and hurt their playoff hopes.
Brenden Morrow tapped in an empty-netter at 18:32 of the third period to clinch the win for Dallas.
Mike Cammalleri scored and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 16 shots for the Flames, who had lost their previous three games in overtime or shootouts.
RANGERS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 3, SO
TORONTO (AP)—Ryan Callahan's shootout goal gave New York a victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs and lifted the Rangers into a tie atop the NHL standings.
The Rangers captain moved in on goalie Jonas Gustavsson and wired a shot top corner in the third round to clinch it. Brad Richards also scored for New York in the shootout. Tim Connolly had Toronto's lone goal in the tiebreaker.
Marian Gaborik, with two goals, and Brandon Dubinsky scored in regulation for New York (47-21-7). Henrik Lundqvist made 22 stops for the Rangers, and Richards added two assists.
The Rangers, who lead Pittsburgh by three points in the Eastern Conference, are tied with Western-leading St. Louis with 101 points. The Rangers have one more win than the Blues.
SABRES 3, WILD 1
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—Rookie Marcus Foligno scored a power-play goal 1:45 into the third period, and the Buffalo Sabres continued their late-season surge into playoff contention with a win over the Minnesota Wild.
Cody Hodgson had a goal and assist, while Thomas Vanek scored his first goal in eight games for Buffalo which overcame a slow start to improve to 6-0-2 in its past eight and 18-5-5 in its past 28. Ryan Miller stopped 24 shots in helping the Sabres (37-29-10) vault two points ahead of Washington and alone into eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Steven Kampfer scored the lone goal for the Wild (31-33-10).
RED WINGS 5, HURRICANES 4
DETROIT (AP)—Drew Miller scored with 8:25 left and the Detroit Red Wings rallied from three goals down to beat the Carolina Hurricanes, snapping a six-game losing streak.
Carolina led 4-1 until Henrik Zetterberg cut the Red Wings' deficit to two goals with 3:02 left in the second period.
Detroit avoided its first seven-game losing streak since 1991.
The Hurricanes have lost two straight after winning four in a row, hurting their slim chances of getting into the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Zetterberg scored twice, and Jiri Hudler netted the tying goal midway through the third period.
Third-string goaltender Ty Conklin made 20 saves for the Red Wings. Carolina's Cam Ward stopped 45 shots.
PREDATORS 3, JETS 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Pekka Rinne made 24 saves to lead the Nashville Predators over the Winnipeg Jets.
Matt Halischuk, Gabriel Bourque and Shea Weber scored for Nashville, which snapped a two-game losing streak.
Tim Stapleton had the lone goal for the Jets, who have lost three of their last four. One night after rallying back from a three goal-deficit and winning in overtime in Washington, the Jets lost their 21st road game of the season.
Halischuk scored the game's first goal at 2:56 of the second period, and Bourque made it 2-0 midway through the frame.
LIGHTNING 4, ISLANDERS 3
TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Steven Stamkos scored twice to tie the Lightning record with 52 goals this season, and Tampa Bay beat the New York Islanders.
Stamkos gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead with his second of the night and tied Vincent Lecavalier's club record 1:46 into the second. Stamkos also assisted on Tim Wallace's goal that gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 edge at 12:10 of the third.
Matt Moulson netted his 33rd goal to put the Islanders ahead 3-2 just 43 seconds into the third, but Tampa Bay tied it on Tom Pyatt's goal at 9:08.
Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo also scored for the Islanders.
SHARKS 4, COYOTES 3, SO
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)—Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe scored in the shootout, and Antti Niemi stopped both Phoenix attempts to lead San Jose to a crucial victory over the Coyotes.
Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns and Daniel Winnik scored in regulation for the Sharks, who have won back-to-back games after two crushing losses to Anaheim and Los Angeles to open the week. Niemi made 24 saves through overtime.
Daymond Langkow, Derek Morris and Lauri Korpikoski scored in regulation for the Coyotes, who failed in their attempt to win consecutive games for the first time this month. Mike Smith made 29 saves.
BRUINS 4, KINGS 2
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly scored less than 1 1/2 minutes apart early in the third period to break open a tie game, Patrice Bergeron scored a short-handed goal and Tim Thomas made 40 saves, leading the Boston Bruins over the Los Angeles Kings.
The defending Stanley Cup champions ended a four-game road losing streak and also snapped a six-game winning streak to the Kings, who fell out of first place in the Pacific Division with Dallas' victory over Calgary. Colin Fraser and rookie Slava Voynov scored for Los Angeles and Jonathan Quick stopped 22 shots.
The Northeast Division-leading Bruins are second in the Eastern Conference, 12 points behind the New York Rangers with eight games left. The last defending Stanley Cup champion to lead its conference in points the following season was New Jersey, which captured the top seed in the East in 2000-01.
CANUCKS 3, AVALANCHE 2
DENVER (AP)—Chris Higgins had two goals, including the winner at 1:40 of overtime, and Vancouver rallied to beat the Colorado Avalanche as the Canucks wrapped up their fourth straight Northwest Division crown.
Mason Raymond also scored and Roberto Luongo stopped 38 shots.
Before the game, the Canucks clinched the division title courtesy of Calgary's loss to Dallas. They also closed the gap on St. Louis in the race for the top seed in the conference, climbing to within two points of the Blues.
Gabriel Landeskog and Jamie McGinn scored for the Avalanche, who have earned at least a point in nine of their last 11 games to remain in the thick of the playoff chase.