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Sharks extend dominance over Penguins, win 5-3

March 7, 2014

SAN JOSE, California (AP) — San Jose strengthened its hand in the tight fight for the top of the NHL Western Conference standings by beating Pittsburgh 5-3 on Thursday, with the defeat slicing the Penguins lead in the East to a single point.

The Sharks are among the top five teams in the West, which are separated by just five points. Among them is Chicago — which had a lopsided win over Columbus — and Colorado, which beat Detroit in overtime. In the East, Pittsburgh is looking over its shoulder at Boston, which won a third straight by downing Washington.

San Jose overcame a two-goal deficit, with Justin Braun starting the comeback with a goal late in the second and Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns scoring tying goals early in the third for the Sharks.

Joe Thornton scored the tiebreaker with 5:39 left and Burns added an empty-netter for the Sharks, who have 10 of their past 11 home games against a strong Penguins team.

Olli Maatta scored twice and Chris Kunitz also netted for the Penguins, who have not won at the Shark Tank since 1997-98.

Chicago stayed a point ahead of San Jose by thrashing Columbus 6-1, with Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews having two goals apiece.

Brandon Bollig and Bryan Bickell also scored for the Blackhawks, who stayed within two points of St. Louis for the Central division lead.

Ryan Johansen scored his 25th goal of the season for the Blue Jackets, who had won their previous three.

Colorado remained a point behind Chicago following a 3-2 win at Detroit, with Andre Benoit scoring with 31.4 seconds left in overtime, off an assist from rookie Nathan MacKinnon.

MacKinnon has a point in 13 straight games, breaking Wayne Gretzky’s record for an 18-year-old NHL player.

Detroit took leads on Niklas Kronwall’s goal midway through the first period and Tomas Jurco’s score with 7:50 left in the second.

Matt Duchene scored Colorado’s initial tying goal midway through the second period, and P.A. Parenteau made it 2-2 in the third period. The Avalanche has won four straight.

Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask beat Washington for the first time in his career — having previously been on the losing team six times — as the Bruins beat the Capitals 3-0.

Gregory Campbell and Loui Eriksson scored second-period goals and Brad Marchand had an empty netter with 1:34 left for the Bruins, who went eight points clear atop the Atlantic Division.

St. Louis maintained its buffer atop the Central with a 2-1 win at Nashville.

Ian Cole had a goal and an assist and Magnus Paajarvi had the other goal for the Blues, who have won all four of their games against Nashville this season.

The Predators have lost six of seven.

Phoenix notched its first win over Montreal since 1998, bouncing back from a shaky second period to beat the Canadiens 5-2, with Radim Vrbata scoring twice.

Los Angeles won its sixth-straight game with a 3-1 victory at Winnipeg, with Mike Richards scoring the go-ahead goal on a giveaway by the Jets.

Dallas routed Vancouver 6-1, with Tyler Seguin having three goals and two assists.

Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth made 43 saves to help the Sabres beat Tampa Bay 3-1, with the Lightning beaten despite the return of star Steven Stamkos from a long-term injury.

Edmonton had a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders, with Taylor Hall scoring the winner.

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