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Predators, Sharks gain ground in West

News and Notes for March 8 @NHL

The Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks, the only teams from the Western Conference to win Tuesday, earned victories to gain ground on their closest rivals:

* Pekka Rinne made 21 saves against the Winnipeg Jets to help the Predators extend two franchise records; they pushed their overall point streak to 13 games (9-0-4) and road point streak to 12 (10-0-2). Nashville also won its sixth consecutive game on the road, one shy of matching the longest road winning streak in club history (Oct. 16 - Nov. 4, 2006: 7-0-0). Rinne is 7-0-2 in his past nine games on the road (1.99 GAA, .931 SV%). At 34-21-12 (80 points), the Predators moved eight points ahead of the idle Minnesota Wild (31-26-10, 72 points) and Avalanche (34-30-4, 72 points) to strengthen their grip on the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

* James Reimer stopped all 31 shots he faced to earn his first victory with his new club (2 GP) and help the Sharks improve to 5-0-1 in their past six road games. At 25-9-3 (53 points), San Jose leads the NHL in road wins and road points. Reimer had his 12th career shutout and first since Oct. 29, 2013, also at Edmonton (w/ the Toronto Maple Leafs). At 37-23-6 (80 points), the Sharks narrowed the gap on the idle Anaheim Ducks (37-19-9, 83 points) and Los Angeles Kings (39-22-4, 82 points) in the race for first place in the Pacific Division.

The Boston Bruins and New York Islanders edged divisional rivals to gain key points in their quests for the playoffs:

Jonas Gustavsson  made a career-high 42 saves for his seventh career shutout and Brad Marchand scored his sixth overtime goal (second this season) 10 seconds into the extra period to give the Bruins a victory against the Lightning in their final game of 2015-16 (TBL: 2-1-1, BOS: 2-2-0). Marchand, who ranks third in the NHL with 34 goals, established a career high with his sixth game-winning goal. The Bruins (38-23-7, 83 points) posted their second overtime victory in as many days; they defeated the Florida Panthers 5-4 on Monday. Boston tied the Lightning (39-23-5, 83 points) - in terms of points - for first place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay has one game in hand and owns the ROW tiebreaker (TBL: 36, BOS: 34).

Anders Lee  scored the go-ahead goal at 8:55 of the third period and the Islanders edged the Pittsburgh Penguins for their fourth straight win. New York is 5-0-1 in its past six games at Barclays Center. Thomas Greiss  (3 SV) played the final 4:22 in relief of an injured Jaroslav Halak, who made 31 saves to earn his 200th career victory. At 37-20-7 (81 points), the Islanders pulled five points ahead of the Penguins (34-24-8, 76 points) for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The two clubs face off twice more this season, March 15 at Pittsburgh and April 2 in Brooklyn.

Jeff Skinner
 (2-0-2) scored twice, including the tying goal with 0.2 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime before rookie defenseman Jaccob Slavin  sealed the win in the shootout. At 30-26-11 (71 points), the Carolina Hurricanes moved within four points of the Detroit Red Wings (32-23-11, 75 points), who lost in regulation, for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

* Skinner, who has 25 goals, had his fifth multiple-goal game of the season. His last-second goal was his second tying goal in the final five seconds of the third period this season (19:56 - Nov. 7, also vs. the Ottawa Senators).

* Overall, there have been seven game-tying goals in the final 10 seconds of regulation this season, including three in the final second:

Tying Goal in Final 0:10 of Regulation, 2015-16 Season
19:59 - Jeff Skinner (CAR) on March 8 vs. OTT (4-3 SO W)
19:59 - Jean-Gabriel Pageau  (OTT) on March 1 vs. STL (4-3 SO L)
19:59 - Nicklas Backstrom (WSH) on Nov. 7 vs. TOR (3-2 SO W)
19:58 - Jiri Hudler (CGY) on Dec. 4 vs. BOS (5-4 OT W)
19:56 - Jeff Skinner (CAR) on Nov. 7 vs. OTT (3-2 OT W)
19:54 - Nicklas Backstrom  (WSH) on Jan. 9 at NYR (4-3 OT W)
19:54 - Corey Perry (ANA) on Nov. 4 vs. FLA (3-2 SO W)

* Via Elias, Skinner and Backstrom are the first players to score multiple game-tying goals in the final 10 seconds of regulation in one season since 1995-96, when Alexander Mogilny scored two such goals for the Vancouver Canucks.

Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello  (1-2-3), Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk  (2-1-3) and Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson  (2-1-3) each had three points to lead their teams to victory:

* Zuccarello helped the New York Rangers to their seventh win in 10 games and their ninth consecutive victory against the Buffalo Sabres, all in regulation, dating to April 19, 2013. Zuccarello had his sixth three-point game of 2015-16 and leads the Rangers with 51 points (22-29-51 in 67 GP).

* Galchenyuk scored his second goal of the game at 1:59 of overtime to help the Montreal Canadiens end a four-game skid overall (0-3-1) and improve to 6-0-1 in their last seven games at Bell Centre. It was the ninth multiple-goal game of his career and fourth in his past seven games; he also had two goals on Feb. 24 at Washington, March 2 at Anaheim and March 5 at Winnipeg).

* Atkinson had up his third three-point effort of the season (also Dec. 17 at ARI: 1-2-3 and Jan. 25 vs. MTL: 3-0-3) to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to their fourth straight victory at Nationwide Arena and a 5-2-1 record in their past eight games overall. Atkinson established career highs in goals (23), assists (20) and points (43) in a season (66 GP).

Several players added to point streaks on Tuesday:

* San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton  had an assist to push his point streak to six games (1-7-8). He has at least one point in 33 of his past 37 games dating to Dec. 15 (11-37-48).

* Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby  (3-7-10) and Senators forward Zack Smith  (4-2-6) also have at least one point in six straight games.

* Predators forward Craig Smith  scored twice to push his point streak to five games (5-5-10). Five other players extended point streaks to five games: Sharks defenseman Brent Burns  (4-5-9), Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele  (6-2-8), Predators forward Mike Ribeiro  (1-7-8), Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron  (5-2-7) and Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist  (2-3-5).

* Dallas Stars forward Jason Spezza  scored for the fourth straight game (4-0-4).

* Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov  (0-2-2) played in his 913th career game (all w/ Montreal) to move past Guy Carbonneau (912) for sole possession of 10th place in franchise history.

* Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy  (0-2-2) played in his 400th NHL game.

The Hurricanes improved to 13-0-2 in their past 15 games against the Senators at PNC Arena dating to March 16, 2008 (OTT: 2-10-3). … Columbus is 10-2-2 in its past 14 meetings with Detroit dating to March 28, 2012 (DET: 4-8-2), when the two clubs were divisional rivals in the Western Conference. … Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop  (32 SV) had his personal winning streak halted at six games, tied for the longest such run of his career (Nov. 1-14, 2013). … Penguins defenseman Kris Letang  established a career-high with his 12th goal of the season (56 GP). … Forward Phillip Danault  (1-0---1) scored his first goal with the Canadiens (6 GP). … Rangers goaltender Antti Raanta  made 34 saves and is 4-1-0 in his past six appearances. … Red Wings defenseman Mike Green  (0-3-3) had his first three-point game since March 2, 2014 vs. the Philadelphia Flyers, while he played for the Washington Capitals … Sharks forward Logan Couture  (2-0-2) had multiple goals for the second time in 2015-16 (also Feb. 22 at the ST. Louis Blues: 2-1-3). … The Chicago Blackhawks signed Marcus Kruger  to a three-year contract extension.

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