– The Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Jason Pominville scored his team-leading 24th goal and the Buffalo Sabres inched closer to clinching the Northeast Division title with a 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.

Raffi Torres had three assists in his first game back after missing six because of a hand injury, and Ryan Miller made 13 saves for his 39th victory — one short of matching a career high. The injury-depleted Sabres also got production from their role players as defenseman Henrik Tallinder, fourth-liner Adam Mair, and rookies Tim Kennedy, Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis also scored.

Buffalo (43-23-10) won for the seventh time in eight games to move seven points ahead of second-place Ottawa in the division with 11 days left in the regular season.

HURRICANES 2, CANADIENS 1: Eric Staal scored 2:55 into the third period and Cam Ward made 34 saves to lead Carolina at Montreal.

FLAMES 2, COYOTES 1: Miikka Kiprusoff made 29 saves and Calgary beat visiting Phoenix to move within two points of eighth-place Colorado for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Rene Bourque opened the scoring for Calgary with his 25th goal of the season, beating Jason LaBarbera on a power play in the second period. Ales Kotalik made it 2-0 early in the third, and Lee Stempniak scored for Phoenix with 6:52 left.

LaBarbera also had 29 saves.

LIGHTNING 2, PENGUINS 0: Steven Stamkos scored his 46th goal to edge within one of NHL leader Sidney Crosby as Tampa Bay won at Pittsburgh.

Crosby and the Penguins couldn’t find the net on a five-minute power play in the first period resulting from defenseman Matt Lashoff’s boarding penalty and went on to lose their fourth in six games after winning their previous two.

BLACKHAWKS 4, WILD 0: Antti Niemi made 21 saves for his seventh shutout of the season and third in seven games as Chicago won at Minnesota.

STARS 5, SHARKS 1: Steve Ott had three goals for his first career hat trick, scoring short-handed in the opening minutes, and adding even-strength and power-play goals in Dallas’ home win over San Jose.

DUCKS 5, AVALANCHE 2: Jason Blake had a goal and four assists, Saku Koivu added a goal and three assists, and Anaheim kept its slim playoff hopes alive while dealing a setback to Colorado’s with a victory in Denver.

With six games remaining, the Ducks moved within seven points of the slumping Avalanche.

Colorado’s hold on the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference grew more precarious after the Avalanche lost for the sixth time in seven games, including the last three straight.

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