The race in the Patrick Division of the NHL is so tight, that with 17 days left in the regular season, no team has clinched a playoff spot.
Nine teams in the other divisions have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
A week ago the New York Rangers had a nine-point lead and seemed a cinch to win the division. Now, the slumping Rangers’ lead is in jeopardy.
Shawn Burr and Dave Barr scored 70 seconds apart in the second period Wednesday night at New York and the Detroit Red Wings dealt the Rangers another blow, 4-1.
It was the fourth consecutive defeat for the Rangers, and they lead Pittsburgh by only three points.
Three of the defeats have been to teams below .500 for the season.
“We are not sharp defensively,” Ranger Coach Roger Neilson said. “It’s a lack of concentration. I think that when we built the nine-point lead, guys started thinking about bonuses.”
An indication of how far the Rangers have fallen is shown by the power plays. They have the best power-play unit in the league, but they managed only one goal in nine opportunities against a team ranked next-to-last in penalty-killing.
New Jersey 3, Toronto 2--John MacLean and Alexei Kasatonov scored in a three-minute span in the third period at East Rutherford, N.J., to carry the Devils to an important victory.
The Devils eased into third place in the Patrick Division. They have 70 points to 68 for Washington.
It was the Devils’ first victory (1-2-1) under new Coach Tom McVie.
Buffalo 6, Winnipeg 2--The Jets continue their dive to the bottom of the Smythe Division.
Dale Hawerchuk had a hat trick at Winnipeg, which appeared to have a lock on the playoffs before slumping. The Jets, battling Vancouver for the last playoff spot in the Smythe Division, are 2-8-1 in the last 11 games.
Edmonton 2, New York Islanders 1--Joe Murphy assisted on the first goal and scored the other goal at Edmonton and the Oilers reached .500 (33-33-5).
Grant Fuhr stopped 25 shots, losing his shutout when Brad Lauer scored with just over two minutes remaining.
Philadelphia 5, Vancouver 4--Rookie defenseman Murray Baron scored a power-play goal at 3:09 of overtime and the Flyers rallied from a 4-1 deficit to beat the Canucks at Vancouver.