Pens, Panthers tighten NHL East race
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers each skated to big road victories on Sunday afternoon to put themselves into the NHL's ever-changing Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Playing without captain Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh downed the reeling Dallas Stars 4-1. Florida drubbed Washington 6-2.
As a result, the Panthers are tied for sixth with the New York Rangers at 72 points in the East, with one game in hand. Pittsburgh moved into eighth with 70 points after being on the outside of the playoff line the past few weeks.
The Penguins are 5-1-1 since Dan Bylsma took over from Michel Therrien as coach.
The results drop Buffalo and Carolina, both losers on Saturday night, into a tie for ninth with 69 points.
Pittsburgh superstar Evgeni Malkin extended his NHL points lead by scoring and adding two assists against Dallas. Malkin now has 29 goals and 63 assists on the season.
Jordan Staal, Kris Letang and Miroslav Satan also scored for Pittsburgh (32-26-6), while Marc-Andre Fleury made 41 saves in net.
Fleury also stopped 41 shots in the team's victory Friday over Dallas.
Chris Kunitz recorded an assist, giving him three points in two games since coming over to the Penguins in a trade with Anaheim earlier in the week.
Crosby missed his third straight game due to a groin injury.
Loui Eriksson broke Fleury's shutout bid early in the third with a power-play goal. The Stars had come up empty on their previous 20 power-play opportunities.
Tobias Stephan played in net after No. 1 goalie Marty Turco had played the previous 32 games. Stephan stopped 19 shots.
Dallas completed a disastrous five-game homestand, losing all of the games while being outscored 15-6.
Panthers 6, Capitals 2
Bryan McCabe scored and added three assists as Florida bounced back from a one-sided loss to New Jersey on Saturday, scoring on the power play three times.
Stephen Weiss had a goal and two assists, while Jay Bouwmeester and Michael Frolik both scored and added an assist.
Jassen Cullimore was the other Florida goal scorer, while Craig Anderson stopped 32 shots. Anderson made his fourth consecutive start as Tomas Vokoun continues to battle an illness.
Anderson held the Capitals without a goal for nearly 57 minutes.
Alexander Semin scored just 1:26 into the game to give Washington a 1-0 lead, but the Capitals didn't score again until Alexander Ovechkin notched his NHL-best 46th goal with just 22 seconds left.
Jose Theodore was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots, with rookie replacement Michael Neuvirth making 14 saves on 16 shots.
The Capitals remain eight points back of Eastern Conference leaders Boston as a result of the loss.