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Avalanche beats Blackhawks 4-2 to tighten Central

March 5, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) — Colorado tightened the already-close race in the NHL Central Division with a 4-2 win over Chicago on Tuesday, with Tyson Barrie scoring the tiebreaking power-play goal with 7:10 left.

The win moved the Avalanche within a point of the second-placed Blackhawks though St. Louis stayed ahead with a home win over Tampa Bay.

Among other games, Pittsburgh beat Nashville to stay three points clear in the fight for the top of the Eastern Conference while San Jose suffered a costly defeat against Carolina, giving up a goal in the last minute of overtime.

Colorado reached 40 victories faster than any team in franchise history. They also improved to 3-1 against the Blackhawks this season.

Ryan O’Reilly and Maxime Talbot also scored for the Avalanche, while Paul Stastny completed the scoring with an empty-netter in the final minute. O’Reilly has three goals and three assists in his last four games.

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon got an assist on Stastny’s 20th goal, extending his point streak to 12 games and tying Wayne Gretzky’s record for an 18-year-old player, set in 1979-80.

Ben Smith and Jonathan Toews scored for Chicago, which was without injured veteran forward Marian Hossa.

St. Louis moved clear top of the Central with a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay, with Alexander Steen scoring the go-ahead goal early in the third period.

T.J. Oshie tied the game in the second period and he assisted on Steen’s 29th goal of the season. Patrik Berglund had started the comeback with his third goal in two games, and Vladimir Tarasenko’s empty-net score cinched it with a half-minute to go.

Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson scored for the Lightning, which missed a chance to go second in the Atlantic Division.

Pittsburgh ended a three-game losing skid by winning 3-1 at Nashville, with Matt Niskanen scoring twice.

Niskanen and the Penguins helped ruin the return of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne in his first game since Oct. 22 following an E. coli infection in his surgically repaired left hip.

Chris Kunitz also scored for the Penguins, and Sidney Crosby had three assists to add to his NHL-leading point total.

Patric Hornqvist scored for the Predators and goalie Pekka Rinne made 16 saves in his first game since October following an infection after hip surgery.

Carolina won for the first time since the Olympic break, with a last-gasp 3-2 victory at San Jose.

Jay Harrison scored with 41.2 seconds remaining in overtime while Jiri Tlusty and Elias Lindholm also scored for the Hurricanes.

Marty Havlat and Brent Burns scored for the Sharks, who lost in their first home game since Feb. 7.

Columbus held off a third-period Dallas rally and beat the Stars 4-2, with Artem Anisimov scoring twice.

The Blue Jackets have won three in a row and are vying for only their second postseason appearance since joining the NHL in 2000.

Columbus scored on the first shot of the game and bolted to a 3-0 first-period lead on goals by Boone Jenner, R.J. Umberger and Anisimov.

Defensemen Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley had goals early in the third period for the Stars.

Boston’s David Krejci had a hat trick to lead the Bruins to a 4-1 win over Florida, which was preoccupied with some big trade deals, including the acquisition of former goalie Robert Luongo.

Veteran New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur helped the Devils beat Detroit 4-3 on what may have been his last game for the team, with speculation of a move before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

Phoenix’s Antoine Vermette scored the game’s only goal late in the first period as the Coyotes beat Vancouver.

New York’s Michael Grabner scored on a breakaway 3:53 into overtime to give the Islander s a 3-2 win at Winnipeg.

Edmonton ended a run of three-straight losses by beating Ottawa 3-2.

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