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Geoffrion helps Preds move into seventh

by Brian Compton
Blake Geoffrion picked a heck of a time to record his first NHL hat trick.

The rookie's second and third goals on Sunday came in the final minutes of regulation and erased a 3-1 deficit, as the Nashville Predators rallied for a 4-3 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena.

With five wins in their last six games, the Predators have moved into seventh place in the Western Conference and are virtually tied with Chicago and Los Angeles at 86 points apiece.

In the East, the seventh-place Rangers -- who earned a 5-2 win at Pittsburgh -- moved three points ahead of eighth-place Buffalo, which surrendered a valuable point due to its collapse against Nashville.

Here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Sunday's games:

Eastern Conference

Division leaders

Philadelphia (96 points) was idle on Sunday.  Just two points ahead of No. 2 Washington, the Flyers will host the Caps on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Washington (94 points) has a three-day break in its six-game road trip. The Caps, 2-1-0 after the first three games, return to the ice on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

Boston (88 points), which was off Sunday, are still on top in the Northeast Division despite a 1-3-3 mark in their last seven games. The Bruins will host New Jersey on Tuesday at TD Garden.

The next five:

Pittsburgh (90 points after Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Rangers) had four days off but came up short against the Rangers at the Consol Energy Center. The Pens have little time to dwell on the loss, however, as they will face Detroit at Joe Louis Arena on Monday night.

Tampa Bay (89 points) did not play Sunday.  The Bolts, who went 1-0-3 on their four-game road trip, return home to face the Islanders on Tuesday.

Montreal (87 points after Sunday's 8-1 win at Minnesota) moved within a point of first place in the Northeast Division with its demolition of the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. The Habs return to action on Tuesday against Buffalo at the Bell Centre.

New York Rangers (82 points) moved three points ahead of Buffalo with their impressive victory at Pittsburgh. Henrik Lundqvist was be able to play despite suffering a stiff neck during a goalmouth collision late in Friday's 6-3 win against Montreal. The Blueshirts host Florida on Tuesday.

Buffalo (79 points after Sunday's 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville) failed to keep pace with the Rangers for the No. 7 seed, but it did manage to gain another point on ninth-place Carolina with its overtime loss to Nashville. The Sabres will visit Montreal on Tuesday night.

On the outside looking in:

Carolina (76 points) was idle Sunday. The Hurricanes return to action on Tuesday night, when they'll host the Ottawa Senators.

Toronto (74 points) did not play Sunday.  The Leafs have a tough week coming up -- they're on the road for three games against Western Conference teams, starting Tuesday at Minnesota.

New Jersey
(72 points after Sunday's 3-0 win at Columbus) moved ahead of Atlanta as Martin Brodeur stopped all 13 shots he faced for his 115th career shutout. Now seven points out of a playoff spot, the Devils will visit Boston on Tuesday night.

Atlanta (72 points) was idle Sunday. The Thrashers are off another three days before visiting the Islanders on Thursday.

Western Conference

Division leaders:

Vancouver (103 points) had the second of four days off before beginning a road trip in Detroit on Wednesday.

Detroit (94 points) was also idle Sunday. The Wings return to action on Monday night against Pittsburgh at Joe Louis Arena in a game that can be seen on Versus in the U.S. and TSN2 in Canada.

San Jose (92 points) did not play Sunday. The Sharks have another two days off before Calgary visits HP Pavilion on Wednesday.

The next five:

Phoenix (89 points after Sunday's 2-1 loss to Chicago) came up empty Sunday night in a loss to Chicago at Arena. The Coyotes, who had just won four games in six nights on the road, will hope to rebound on home ice Tuesday night against St. Louis.

Chicago (86 points) moved into fifth place with its victory at Phoenix, but at what cost? Patrick Sharp injured his knee in the victory, and his status for Wednesday's game against Florida at the United Center has to be in doubt.

Los Angeles (86 points) was idle Sunday. The Kings return to action on Monday night against Calgary at the Staples Center.

Nashville (86 points) moved into seventh place thanks to Blake Geoffrion's late heroics in the third period, followed by Martin Erat's overtime winner at Buffalo. The Predators will look to carry the momentum into Tuesday's game against Edmonton at Bridgestone Arena.

Anaheim (85 points after Sunday's 5-4 OT win against Calgary) moved into playoff position thanks to more overtime heroics from Corey Perry, who scored in the extra session for a second straight game. The Ducks return to action on Wednesday night at Dallas.

On the outside looking in:

Dallas (85 points) did not play Sunday, but it fell into ninth place due to wins by Chicago, Nashville and Anaheim. The Stars will attempt to climb back into the top eight on Wednesday against the Ducks at the American Airlines Center.

Calgary (84 points) started a grueling four-game trip at Anaheim on Sunday and earned a point in a 5-4 overtime loss. The Flames, who began a stretch of six of seven on the road, visit Los Angeles on Monday night.

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