Stewart Gavin scored twice and led a defense that limited Pittsburgh to 12 shots in the first two periods as the Minnesota North Stars defeated the Penguins, 7-2, Monday night at Bloomington, Minn., to move within one victory of clinching their first playoff berth in three seasons.
Minnesota’s defense was superb in front of goalie Kari Takko. The line of Gavin, Perry Berezan and Bob Brooke often was matched against the line of Mario Lemieux, who had just one assist.
The Penguins had only 23 shots, compared to 44 for the North Stars.
The North Stars need one victory or one Toronto loss to wrap up at least fourth place in the Norris Division. By going 4-1 on its last extended home stand of the season, Minnesota moved within one point of second-place St. Louis and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
N.Y. Rangers 7, St. Louis 4--The Rangers extended their unbeaten streak against the Blues at New York to 12 games (11-0-1) as Kelly Kisio scored two goals in a three-goal second period.
The last St. Louis win at New York was on Feb. 15, 1981.
Trailing 3-2 after the first period, the Rangers took control with three consecutive goals in the second.
“We weren’t happy coming back into the dressing room after that period,” New York’s Lucien DeBlois said. “The crowd was booing us and that’s not a very good feeling. But we deserved it.
“We were angry. We just decided to go out and bump a few guys.”
Ranger Chris Nilan, who has been out with a strained ligament, made his first appearance since Dec. 21.
New Jersey 3, Vancouver 1--Aaron Broten scored a goal and assisted on two others at East Rutherford, N.J., to help the Devils keep their playoff hopes alive.
New Jersey trails fourth-place Philadelphia by 11 points in the Patrick Division with six games to play. Any Devil loss, Philadelphia win, or tie by either team will give the Flyers, who have seven games left, the final spot.
“We’re still alive,” Broten said. “I guess it (a miracle) has happened before and we’ll just go game by game for the rest of the season.”
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for New Jersey and ended a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) for Vancouver, which remains on the verge of clinching the final playoff berth in the Smythe Division.
Buffalo 4, Winnipeg 1--The Sabres scored four times in the third period to win at Winnipeg, Canada.
Mike Foligno broke the 1-1 tie with a goal at 8:00 of the final period. Christian Ruuttu scored into an open net at 19:33, and Mark Napier beat goaltender Bob Essensa just seven seconds later.
Winnipeg’s marginal playoff hopes were dealt another blow. The Jets trail fourth-place Vancouver by 13 points.