SCOREBOARD
Thursday, March 27
New Jersey at N.Y. Rangers (7 p.m. EDT). The Rangers have beaten the Devils all six times this season.

STARS
Wednesday
-Milan Hejduk and Peter Forsberg, Avalanche. Hejduk scored twice and Forsberg had three assists and Colorado beat Vancouver 6-3.
-Mikko Koivu, Wild, assisted on all three Minnesota goals in a 3-1 win over Edmonton.
-Clay Wilson, Blue Jackets, had a goal and his first assist in his second NHL game to lead Columbus to a 4-0 victory over Chicago.
-Mathieu Schneider, Ducks, scored the deciding goal in the sixth round of the shootout and Anaheim edged Los Angeles 2-1.

SID RETURNING SOON?
Sidney Crosby, sidelined for 28 of Pittsburgh's past 31 games with a sprained right ankle, went through an optional practice Wednesday without problems and plans to play Thursday night against the New York Islanders. Crosby was hurt Jan. 18 against Tampa Bay and didn't play again until facing the Lightning in Tampa on March 4. He played three games that week, but hasn't played since scoring two goals against the Capitals on March 9.

JUST DUCKY
Defending-champion Anaheim clinched a playoff berth for the third straight season by tying Los Angeles after regulation before posting a 2-1 shootout win on Wednesday night. The Ducks have qualified for the postseason six times since coming into the league in 1993.

REVENGE
Minnesota recovered from its loss to Edmonton two nights earlier and leap-frogged Calgary into first place in the Northwest Division after topping the Oilers 3-1 on Wednesday night. ... Columbus damaged Chicago's playoff hopes and avenged two straight blowout losses at home to the Blackhawks with a 4-0 win. The Blackhawks, who won their last two visits to Columbus 7-2 and 6-3, remain six points out of the final playoff spot in the West.

SEVENTH HEAVEN
Colorado broke a seventh-place tie with Vancouver in the tight Western Conference playoff race and handed the Canucks their third straight loss after a 6-3 victory on Wednesday night. Vancouver's lead for the final playoff spot is just two points ahead of Nashville.

SIGNED
Carolina signed first-round draft pick Brandon Sutter to a three-year contract and said he will report to its American Hockey League affiliate in Albany. The 19-year-old Sutter led his junior team, the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League, with 26 goals and 49 points this season.

SPEAKING
``I don't know if I'm back yet. Those weren't the prettiest points, but I'll take them anyway,'' - Colorado's Peter Forsberg after he had three assists in a 6-3 win over Vancouver on Wednesday night. Forsberg doubled his point total since rejoining the Avalanche on March 4.
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