Three of the division titles in the National Hockey League have just about been decided. But nobody seems to want to win the Patrick Division, as four teams have held the lead during the season.
Not only does the first-place team get extra money for winning, it also assures itself of home-ice advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
New York, the current leader, missed an opportunity to increase their lead to four points when they couldn’t solve Buffalo goaltender Clint Malarchuk Wednesday night. Malarchuk, in his first start for the Sabres, stopped 32 shots during a 2-0 victory over the Rangers in New York.
Dave Andreychuk and Christian Ruttu scored the second-period goals.
The Sabres picked up Malarchuk in a last-minute trade with Washington. He was put to the test in the first period, when the puck was in the Sabres’ end almost the entire 20 minutes. Malarchuk stopped 10 shots, while the Sabres were getting just two. They had only 14 all night.
With Washington losing, the Rangers lead the Capitals by two points, Pittsburgh by three and Philadelphia by nine.
Hartford 7, Edmonton 3--There was a power outage after about 15 minutes of the game at Hartford, Conn., and when the electricity came back on, it was soon lights out for the Oilers.
It became too dark to see properly with 4:41 left in the first period, and the time was added to the second period.
Before the first period was completed, the Whalers scored twice. Then, Kevin Dineen got two goals in the second period to help build a 4-0 lead. The loss ended a seven-game Oiler unbeaten streak.
Montreal 3, Washington 2--Mats Naslund’s fluke goal halfway through the third period gave the Canadiens the victory in Montreal.
Naslund banged a rebound off the skate of Washington defenseman Rod Langway into the net for his 28th goal.
New Jersey 7, Chicago 5--Aaron Broten had five points, including the game-winning goal, at Chicago to keep the Devils’ slim playoff hopes alive.
The Devils, who are 9-3-2 against Norris Division teams, are seven points behind Philadelphia in the fight for fourth place in the Patrick Division.
Vancouver 3, Winnipeg 0--Goaltender Kirk McLean stopped 26 shots for his third shutout as the Canucks blanked the Jets at Vancouver, Canada. The win also gave the Canucks a stranglehold on the final playoff spot in the Smythe Division. They lead the Jets by 12 points, and Winnipeg has only 13 games left.