BUFFALO, N.Y. – Brad Richards needed 896 games for his first NHL hat trick, and it came at just the right time.

Richards scored twice as the New York Rangers had five goals in a span of less than three minutes and he completed the hat trick in the third period in an 8-4 rout of the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.

Richards has five points — four goals and an assist — in the last two games.

“I don’t even really want to talk about it,” Richards said. “I don’t want to jinx it. It’s just, if it’s back now, it’s a great time to have it. Let’s put it that way.”

Richards, who had 22 two-goal games in his 11-year career, has 10 goals this season.

New York moved into undisputed eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 50 points, two more than the Winnipeg Jets. Each team has four games left.

Carl Hagelin, Ryane Clowe, Anton Stralman, Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan also scored for New York.

Cody Hodgson, Nathan Gerbe, Drew Stafford and Mark Pysyk scored for Buffalo, which was eliminated from the postseason picture and had its three-game winning streak stopped.

The Rangers’ five goals in the span of 2:58 set a franchise record.

The previous mark for fastest five goals was 3:22 in an 8-7 win over Edmonton on Feb. 15, 1985.

BLUES 2, STARS 1: Brian Elliott had to make just 21 saves to help host St. Louis win for the ninth time in its last 11 games.

Ryan Reaves and Chris Stewart scored for the Blues, who are in sixth in the Western Conference with 54 points — one behind Vancouver, Los Angeles and San Jose, who are tied for third.

Antoine Roussel scored for Dallas, which came in with six victories in its last seven games. The Stars are tied with Detroit for ninth place in the Western Conference with 47 points, two behind Columbus, which holds the final playoff spot.

Elliott recorded his league-leading eighth win in April, won for the sixth time in his last seven games and improved to 8-1 since a two-game stint in the minors in late March.

BLACKHAWKS 5, PREDATORS 4: Marian Hossa scored a power-play goal just 52 seconds into overtime and streaking host Chicago swept the season series against Nashville.

With Rich Clune in the penalty box serving a four-minute minor for high sticking, Patrick Kane sent a pass across the ice to Hossa, who one-timed it past Pekka Rinne for his 17th goal of the season.

Kane, Michal Handzus, Duncan Keith and Brandon Saad also scored for the NHL-best Blackhawks, who have won seven in a row.


ISLANDERS: Former University of Maine standout Joey Diamond agreed to terms on a one-year, entry-level contract.

Diamond, 23, joined the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, on March 22 on a tryout contract. In 10 games with Bridgeport, he has two goals, three assists and 27 penalty minutes.

Diamond had 59 goals, 45 assists and 467 penalty minutes in 135 career games with the Black Bears.

SENATORS: Star defenseman Erik Karlsson is practicing again, a little over two months after undergoing surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon suffered against Pittsburgh.

At the time it was thought Karlsson would need six months to fully recover. Now there is a possibility he could play this year, although there’s no timetable for his return.