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Injuries bite Kings and Wings

by John Kreiser
Los Angeles and Detroit both got two points on Saturday. Neither win came without a price.

The Kings did what they needed to do by beating 14th-place Colorado 4-1 -- but lost their top scorer, center Anze Kopitar, with a broken ankle in the second period. He's expected to miss at least six weeks.

Detroit remained second in the West by beating Toronto 4-2; however, the win went to reserve goaltender Joey MacDonald, who stepped in when Jimmy Howard went down with a third-period injury. The Wings say it's not serious, but with No. 2 goaltender Chris Osgood on IR, the Wings are looking at having to go with the No. 3 goaltender in the organization if Howard is sidelined.

In the East, it was a great night for the Buffalo Sabres. Not only did they beat New Jersey 2-0, but the two teams directly behind them -- Carolina and Toronto -- both lost. The Sabres now lead the Hurricanes by five points and the Leafs by seven, and are just two points out of sixth place.

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

Eastern Conference

Division leaders

Philadelphia (100 points after Saturday's 4-1 win at the New York Islanders) became the first team in the East to reach triple figures in points by continuing their domination of the Islanders. James van Riemsdyk had his first NHL hat trick and Sergei Bobrovsky made his case to be the No. 1 goalie in the playoffs by stopping 36 of 37 shots.

Washington (98 points after Saturday's 2-0 win at Montreal) had to call up goaltender Braden Holtby from AHL Hershey earlier in the day, but the rookie goaltender stepped in stopped all 18 shots he faced for his second NHL shutout. Nicklas Backstrom set up goals by Marco Sturm and Alexander Semin as the Caps finished their six-game trip with a 4-2-0 mark, including a pair of wins in Montreal.

Boston (92 points after Saturday's 1-0 home loss to the Rangers) couldn't find a way to solve Henrik Lundqvist or the Rangers' defense despite limiting New York to just one shot in the third period. The Bruins go right back to work on Sunday, when they visit Philadelphia.

The next five:

Pittsburgh (96 points) has a chance to get back within two points of Philadelphia when it hosts the struggling Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon.

Tampa Bay (91 points after Saturday's 4-2 win at Carolina) played its best game in a couple of weeks to avenge Friday night's loss to the 'Canes at the St. Pete Times Forum. Simon Gagne had a pair of goals for the Bolts, giving him 16 for the season -- and 6 in five games against Carolina. The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Lightning and put them four points up in the race for fifth place.

Montreal (87 points after Saturday's 2-0 home loss to Washington) tied a dubious club record by being shut out for the third consecutive game -- the first time that's happened since October 1949. The Canadiens were outscored 11-0 this week in 2-0 home losses to Buffalo and Washington, sandwiched around a 7-0 debacle at Boston on Thursday.

New York Rangers (87 points after Saturday's 1-0 win at Boston) improved to 6-0-1 in its last seven games as Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves and his teammates blocked 29 more. Derek Stepan's first-period goal held up for the win. Lundqvist wasn't severely tested through 40 minutes, but had to work had for his 11th shutout of the season in the third period when the Bruins outshot New York 12-1.

Buffalo (85 points after Saturday's 2-0 home win against New Jersey) got first-period goals from Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis, and that was more than enough to beat the struggling Devils. Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots for his 22nd career shutout. The Sabres are now five points clear of ninth-place Carolina and can think about catching the Rangers and Canadiens -- they have a game in hand on both teams.

On the outside looking in:

Carolina (80 points after Saturday's 4-2 home loss to Tampa Bay) saw its playoff hopes take a severe blow when it couldn't follow up Friday night's win in Tampa with another victory at home. The 'Canes got goals by Eric Staal and Erik Cole in the first period, but couldn't get another puck past Mike Smith. They're now five points out of a playoff berth and facing a trip to red-hot Washington on Tuesday.

Toronto (78 points after Saturday's 4-2 loss at Detroit) also took a big hit to its playoff hopes. The Leafs got goals by Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul -- Lupul tied the game at 2-2 when he scored early in the third period, injuring Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard in the process. But Toronto couldn't beat backup Joey MacDonald, and the Leafs are now seven points out of eighth place with six games remaining -- including a make-or-break visit from Buffalo on Tuesday.

Western Conference

Division leaders:

Vancouver (107 points) continues its road trip with a stop in Columbus on Sunday. The Canucks are five points from clinching the top seed in the West.

Detroit (97 points after Saturday's 4-2 home win against Toronto) got two big points but did so with third-stringer Joey MacDonald in goal. Starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, playing on his 27th birthday, injured his shoulder in the third period and gave way to MacDonald, who stopped all seven shots he faced for the win. GM Ken Holland says Howard is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The good news: Jiri Hudler's goal early in the third period broke a 2-2 tie and kept the Wings in second place in the West.

San Jose (97 points after Saturday's 4-1 win at Phoenix) continues to have the Coyotes' number. The Sharks beat the 'Yotes for the fourth time in as many tries this season and eighth time in a row overall behind a pair of goals by Logan Couture, who became the second rookie this season to reach the 30-goal mark.

The next five:

Phoenix (93 points after Saturday's 4-1 home loss to San Jose) was without three of its top centers for the game against the Sharks -- and it showed. Mikkel Boedker's first-period goal tied the game at 1-1, but San Jose dominated the rest of the way, taking advantage of a rare off-night by Ilya Bryzgalov. The Coyotes still lead Los Angeles and Nashville by a point in the race for fourth and home ice in the first round, but have played two more games than L.A. and one more than Nashville.

Los Angeles (92 points after Saturday's 4-1 home win against Colorado) completed its first season sweep of the Avs since they moved from Quebec in 1995 -- but the win came at a terrible price when top scorer Anze Kopitar broke his right ankle. Coach Terry Murray said he's expected to miss at least six weeks. The injury comes five days after first-line right wing Justin Williams was sidelined with a dislocated shoulder.

Nashville (92 points after Saturday's 4-2 home win against Dallas) won its sixth in a row behind two goals each by Mike Fisher and David Legwand. Pekka Rinne made 28 saves as the Predators won for the eighth time in nine games to stay even in points with Los Angeles. The Predators have four of their last six games at home, and the two road contests are visits to non-playoff teams Colorado and St. Louis.

Anaheim (89 points after Saturday's 2-1 win at Chicago) took a big step toward a playoff berth by rallying to beat the Hawks on a pair of third-period goals by Corey Perry, who took over the NHL lead with 44. The Ducks got four of six points on a three-in-four swing through Dallas, Nashville and Chicago, and go home to host 14th-place Colorado on Monday.

Chicago (88 points after Saturday's 2-1 home loss to Anaheim) dropped to eighth when it couldn't hold off the Ducks in the third period. Marian Hossa scored in the first period, but that was the only goal for the Hawks, who face a tough back-to-back when they visit Detroit on Monday and Boston on Tuesday

On the outside looking in:

Calgary (87 points after Saturday's 5-4 shootout win at Edmonton) looked like it was on the way to a loss that would have all but killed its playoff hopes, only to revive them with its biggest comeback win of the season. Jarome Iginla, Curtis Glencross and Steve Staios scored third-period goals to force overtime, and Alex Tanguay got the only goal of the shootout for the win. The only problem for the Flames: They have just five games remaining and are idle until hosting Anaheim on Wednesday.

Dallas (86 points after Saturday's 4-2 loss at Nashville) took an early lead against the Predators on a goal by Alex Goligoski and tied it early in the second on a fluke goal by Brenden Morrow, but couldn't get the tying goal despite playing the last two minutes of regulation with a power play. Things get even tougher for the Stars, who play at Phoenix on Tuesday and then visit all three California teams.

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