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 SCOREBOARD
Friday, March 21
Toronto at Buffalo (7:30 p.m., EDT). The Sabres have won three straight to move within a point of Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the East.

STARS
Thursday
-Alex Kovalev, Canadiens, had two goals and an assist to lead Montreal to a 4-2 win at Boston.
-Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal, Hurricanes, scored in the shootout to help Carolina beat Florida 2-1.
-Johan Franzen, Red Wings, broke a tie in the third period and sent Detroit to a 6-3 victory over Nashville.
-Patrick O'Sullivan, Kings, scored the only goal in the shootout to give Los Angeles a 6-5 victory over Phoenix.

HAB-ITUAL WINNERS
Montreal has won all seven meetings this season against Boston, and tied a franchise record for the most consecutive wins against the Bruins after a 4-2 win on Thursday night. That mark was set in the 1944-45 season. Alexei Kovalev scored twice and has seven goals and four assists against Boston this season, while teammate Mark Streit has 10 assists.

ALL BUNCHED UP
Calgary beat Colorado 2-1 in a pivotal Northwest Division clash on Thursday night. The Flames moved two points ahead of the Avalanche and into a tie for sixth place in the Western Conference with Vancouver, which won 4-1 in Edmonton on Thursday. The Flames and Canucks moved to within one point of Northwest Division-leading Minnesota, which will play the Canucks on Friday and Calgary on Saturday.

BLOWING IT OPEN
Carolina won for the 10th time in 13 games and increased its lead in the Southeast Division to seven points over idle Washington with Thursday night's 2-1 shootout victory over Florida. The Hurricanes are 5-2 against the Panthers this season and 18-4-1 during the past three.

SOUR 16
Tampa Bay gave up two goals 16 seconds apart for the second straight game Thursday night, this time in a 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh. It also happened while the Lightning allowed six third-period goals to Buffalo in a 7-4 defeat on Wednesday.

MOVING ON UP
Detroit's Dominik Hasek earned his 385th NHL victory with 26 saves in Thursday night's 6-3 win at Nashville, tying him for 10th place with Mike Vernon on the career list.

SNAPPED
ing streak against Tampa Bay and won for the fourth time in five games overall with its 4-2 victory. The Penguins hadn't beat the Lightning at Mellon Arena since Nov. 2, 2002 - a span of eight games.

FORGETTABLE TRIP
St. Louis fell to 1-6-1 on its season-high, nine-game road trip after losing at Ottawa 3-2 on Thursday night. The run ends Sunday in Chicago.

STRONG IN DEFEAT
Alexander Radulov snapped an 11-game goalless drought with a pair of tallies in Nashville's 6-3 loss to Detroit on Thursday night. The Predators lost their franchise record-tying sixth consecutive home game.

GRIEVANCE
Teppo Numminen filed a grievance against the Buffalo Sabres for suspending him without pay after the veteran defenseman failed a preseason physical because he required open-heart surgery. Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said the team was within its rights to suspend Numminen, because he was physically unable to play in an NHL game, even though he first began practicing with the team on a non-contact basis in December.

SEASON OVER
Minnesota defenseman Kurtis Foster will miss the rest of the season, including the playoffs, after crashing hard into the boards Wednesday night during a race to the puck with San Jose rookie Torrey Mitchell. Foster had surgery Thursday to repair a displaced fracture in his femur, and a stabilizing rod was put into his leg. ... Columbus center Dan Fritsche will miss the rest of the regular season after breaking his hand Wednesday night at Detroit.

SPEAKING
``I want to win hockey games. I don't care what I look like.'' - Jarkko Ruutu on scoring while taking a stick to the face from Tampa Bay defenseman Dan Boyle that required 10 to 15 stitches to fix during Pittsburgh's 4-2 win on Thursday night.
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