KOPITAR LEADS KINGS OVER RANGERS
Anze Kopitar (2-0-2) tied the game with 4:10 left in regulation and scored the game-winner at 1:34 of overtime to help the Los Angeles Kings defeat the New York Rangers 4-3 and extend their point streak to six games (5-0-1), including three straight wins.
* At 43-22-5 (91 points), the Kings increased their lead to six points over the idle Anaheim Ducks (38-22-9, 85 points) for first place in the Pacific Division. They also remained two points back of the Dallas Stars (42-21-9, 93 points), who also won on Thursday, for the top record in the Western Conference.
* Kopitar had his third multigoal game of the season (also Nov. 22 at CAR: 2-0-2 and Feb. 12 at NYR: 3-0-3) and leads the Kings with 24-40-64 this season.
* Kopitar scored his fourth overtime goal of the season (also Oct. 16 vs. MIN, Dec. 1 vs. VAN and Dec. 26 at ARI). The Elias Sports Bureau notes he set a franchise record for overtime goals in one season (69 GP), eclipsing the previous record of three held by Yanic Perreault in 1995-96 (78 GP) and matched by Jozef Stumpel in 1999-00 (57 GP).
* Jonathan Quick (23 saves) stretched his personal point streak to five games (4-0-1) and improved to 36-17-4 overall (2.16 goals-against average, .920 save percentage, four shutouts). His 36 victories rank second in the NHL, behind only Braden Holtby (42).
Home Team in Caps
NEW JERSEY 7, Minnesota 4
PITTSBURGH 4, Carolina 2
Detroit 3, COLUMBUS 1
Florida 4, TORONTO 1
NASHVILLE 4, NY Islanders 2
DALLAS 4, Tampa Bay 3
ARIZONA 3, San Jose 1
LOS ANGELES 4, NY Rangers 3 (OT)
STARS, PREDATORS KEEP PACE IN CENTRAL DIVISION RACE
The Stars and Nashville Predators each picked up victories to keep pace in the Central Division, where the top four teams are separated by eight points.
* The Stars overcame three separate one-goal deficits and Jamie Benn (2-1-3) scored the game-winning goal with 8:10 left in regulation of a 4-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Stars picked up points for the sixth time in their past seven games (4-1-2). Benn had his seventh multigoal and seventh three-point game of the season and ranks second in the NHL with 36-44-80. With 36 goals this season, Benn also eclipsed his single-season career high of 35 from 2014-15 (82 GP). At 42-21-9 (93 points), the Western Conference-leading Stars increased their lead to two points over the idle St. Louis Blues (41-22-9, 91 points) for first place in the Central.
Video: TBL@DAL: Ja. Benn nets wrister after turnover
* James Neal (1-1-2) and Ryan Johansen (1-1-2) each recorded a goal and an assist as the Predators defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 and picked up points for the 16th time in their past 17 games (11-1-5). Pekka Rinne (20 saves) improved to 10-2-3 in his past 15 games and 29-19-10 overall (2.43 GAA, .910 save percentage, four shutouts). At 36-22-13 (85 points), the Predators climbed within three points of the idle Chicago Blackhawks (41-24-6, 88 points) for third place in the Central.
EASTERN CONFERENCE TEAMS CONTINUE PLAYOFF PURSUIT
Several Eastern Conference teams posted wins in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
* Roberto Luongo made 32 saves and Jussi Jokinen (2-0-2) scored twice, including the game-winning goal at 9:22 of the second period, as the Florida Panthers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 to earn their fourth victory in their past five games (4-1-0). Per Elias, Luongo (30-17-6) became the seventh goaltender in NHL history to reach 30 wins in eight or more seasons. The others: Martin Brodeur (14), Patrick Roy (13), Henrik Lundqvist (10), Ed Belfour (9), Tony Esposito (8) and Marc-Andre Fleury (8). At 40-22-9 (89 points), the Panthers increased their lead to three points over the idle Boston Bruins (39-24-8, 86 points) for first place in the Atlantic Division.
* Sidney Crosby (2-0-2) scored twice and Carl Hagelin (0-3-3) collected a career-high three assists to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to their fourth consecutive victory, 4-2 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Crosby had his seventh multigoal game of the season, including his career-high seventh game-winning goal of the season, and extended his point streak to 10 games (6-10-16). He ranks fifth in the NHL with 31-41-72 this season. Crosby reached the 30-goal plateau for the seventh time in his 11 NHL seasons (all w/ PIT). Per Elias, he became the third player in franchise history to record seven or more 30-goal seasons, joining Mario Lemieux (11) and Jaromir Jagr (10). At 38-24-8 (84 points), the Penguins climbed within a point of the Islanders (38-22-9, 85 points), who lost in regulation on Thursday, for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Video: CAR@PIT: Crosby puts home a pair of pretty goals
* Jimmy Howard made 27 saves and Henrik Zetterberg notched the game-winning goal at 7:16 of the third period to guide the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. At 35-25-11 (81 points), the Red Wings passed the idle Philadelphia Flyers (34-23-12, 80 points) for the final wild card spot into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
* Devante Smith-Pelly (2-1-3), Adam Henrique (2-0-2) and Mike Sislo (2-0-2) each scored twice to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 7-4 win against the Minnesota Wild, their third victory in their past four games (3-1-0). Per Elias, three different members of the Devils scored multiple goals in a game for the first time since Feb. 25, 2004 vs. BUF (8-2 W), when Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta and Jay Pandolfo each scored twice. Smith-Pelly registered his second multigoal game of the season (also Nov. 25 at NYR: 2-0-2 w/ MTL) and added an assist to record a career-high three points. Smith-Pelly has scored six times in seven games since being acquired by the Devils (6-3-9). Sislo scored the first two goals of his NHL career (32 GP). At 34-30-7 (75 points), the Devils remained six points back of the Red Wings for the final wild card in the East.
MILESTONES & BENCHMARKS
* Lindy Ruff of the Stars coached his 1,401st career game, passing Pat Quinn (1,400) and tying Ron Wilson for fifth place in NHL history.
* Sharks forward Joe Thornton (0-1-1) had his 1,327th career point (374-953-1,327) to pass Gilbert Perreault (512-814-1,326) and tie Pierre Turgeon (515-812-1,327) for 32nd place in NHL history. Thornton has at least one point in 36 of his past 41 games dating to Dec. 15 (12-30-52).
* Maple Leafs forward Connor Brown, a sixth-round selection (No. 156) in the 2012 NHL Draft, made his NHL debut (15:40 TOI). Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand, a third-round selection (No. 89) in 2013, also made his NHL debut (16:02 TOI). Per Elias, Bjorkstrand (Herning, Denmark) became the 12th Danish-born player in NHL history to appear in a regular-season game.
* Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock and Stars defenseman Stephen Johns each scored their first career goals.
Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan scored the go-ahead goal with 1:31 left in regulation to lead them to their third straight win, 3-1 against the San Jose Sharks. … The Kings lead the NHL with 11 overtime goals this season (11-3). … Kings forward Milan Lucic (0-1-1) extended his point streak to eight games (3-7-10), matching his career high from Dec. 8-23, 2008 (4-4-8 in 8 GP w/ BOS). … Ryan Suter of the Wild had his 38th assist of the season and set a franchise record for assists in one season by a defenseman, eclipsing the previous record of 37 held by Marek Zidlicky in 2009-10. … Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr (1-0-1) has 33-43-76 in 57 regular-season games vs. TOR. … Stars forward Jason Spezza (1-0-1) has scored eight times in his past eight games (8-1-9). … Stars forward Tyler Seguin (0-1-1) is tied for third in the NHL with 33-40-73 this season. … Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (2-0-2) had his seventh multigoal game of the season and leads the team with 33 goals. … Stars forward Cody Eakin (0-3-3), Devils forward Tyler Kennedy (0-3-3) and Kings forward Jeff Carter (0-3-3) all had three assists. … Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette (4-2-6), Kings forward Dustin Brown (3-1-4) and Wild forward Nino Niederreiter (3-1-4) have all scored in three straight games. … Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Friday for an incident with Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews during a game Wednesday at United Center. … The Devils donned their red and green jerseys, continuing the St. Patrick's Day tradition at Prudential Center. … The Penguins celebrated the City of Pittsburgh's 200th anniversary in a pregame ceremony at CONSOL Energy Center. They also sported a custom City of Pittsburgh Bicentennial patch on their jerseys. … The Stars honored former captain Brenden Morrow in a pregame ceremony at American Airlines Center.