After six close games, the Buffalo Sabres finally had an easy win.
Daniel Briere had a goal and two assists, and the Sabres got three power-play goals to snap a three-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Chris Drury, Derek Roy and Jason Pominville each added a goal and an assist, and Andrew Peters and Adam Mair also scored for Buffalo, which won for the seventh time in nine games. The Sabres' last six games were decided by one goal _ including three in shootouts.
``We battled hard and battled the whole game,'' Roy said. ``Our power play did a real good job and moved the puck real well.''
The Sabres took over sole possession of the top spot in the NHL with 85 points _ two ahead of idle Nashville _ and secured 40 wins in just their 60th game.
``Every point is important,'' said defenseman Brian Campbell, who had one assist and sparked the Sabres with a fight against Philadelphia forward R.J. Umberger just two minutes in.
In other NHL games Tuesday night, it was: Atlanta 3, Carolina 1; Boston 3, Toronto 0; Ottawa 4, Edmonton 3 in a shootout; Montreal 5, Washington 3; Tampa Bay 3, Florida 2 in a shootout; New Jersey 2, N.Y. Rangers 1; Minnesota 2, Dallas 1 in a shootout; St. Louis 5, Columbus 4 in a shootout; Colorado 4, Calgary 3; and Vancouver 3, Anaheim 2 in overtime.
The Sabres won despite a lineup that was missing five players, and lost another forward after rookie Daniel Paille broke his left index finger. Paille will miss the next couple of weeks.
``I'm trying to see the positive, but it's kind of ridiculous,'' Briere said about the injuries.
Buffalo's Ryan Miller finished with 32 saves in his fourth consecutive start.
Simon Gagne had two goals, and Sami Kapanen also scored for the Flyers, losers of two straight and three of four. Mike Richards added three assists for the second time this season. Philadelphia has won just once in 10 games at Buffalo since 2001.
Roy opened the scoring with his 10th goal just 4 minutes in, but Gagne tied it at 11:25 of the first, slipping the puck past Miller after coming to the front of the net from the left corner.
Peters made it 2-1 just 38 seconds later with his first goal in nearly three years, Mair got his second of the season at 1:45 of the middle period, and Briere pushed Buffalo's lead to 4-1 with another power-play goal 40 seconds later.
That chased Robert Esche, who finished with 10 saves on 14 shots. Antero Niittymaki replaced Esche, who was making his first appearance since leaving a start against Atlanta on Feb. 3 with a stiff neck.
Gagne scored his team-leading 33rd goal, and Kapanen closed the gap to 4-3 with his eighth at 5:17 of the third. Drury restored Buffalo's two-goal cushion at 7:39, and Pominville capped the scoring six minutes later.
``They battled hard, but besides the little lapse we played a very good game,'' Briere said.
Devils 2, Rangers 1
Zach Parise scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period, Martin Brodeur made 35 saves, and host New Jersey won its second straight and 12th in the last 17 games.
Brian Rafalski also scored and Scott Gomez assisted on both goals for the Devils.
Petr Prucha scored for the Rangers.
Bruins 3, Maple Leafs 0
Tim Thomas made 43 saves for his third shutout of the season, and Jason York scored his first NHL goal in three years, to lead visiting Boston.
P.J. Axelsson and Stanislav Chistov also scored for the Bruins, who have won five of six.
Thrashers 3, Hurricanes 1
Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and Eric Boulton scored third-period goals and Atlanta snapped a four-game losing streak.
Rod Brind'Amour scored late in the second for Carolina, which fell to 21-1 when leading after two periods.
Lightning 3, Panthers 2, SO
At Tampa, Fla., Martin St. Louis scored the tying goal and then tallied in the shootout to lift the Lightning to their 15th win in 19 games.
Ryan Craig also scored for Tampa Bay, which improved to 11-3 in games decided in overtime or a shootout.
Nathan Horton scored twice for the Panthers, 1-12 after regulation.
Minnesota 2, Dallas 1, SO
Niklas Backstrom stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout and Mikko Koivu scored on a backhander to the top right corner for host Minnesota.
Brian Rolston scored a power-play goal for the Wild at 18:20 of the second period, and Dallas' Niklas Hagman tied the score 39 seconds later.
Marty Turco had 38 saves for Dallas, while Backstrom earned his first win against the Stars this season after going 0-1-2 in the previous three contests.
Canadiens 5, Capitals 3
Chris Higgins and Michael Ryder each scored two goals and rookie goalie Jaroslav Halak won his second straight start for Montreal.
Higgins ended a personal 16-game goal-scoring drought with a pair of power-play goals in the first. Montreal scored three power-play goals _ all in the first _ and one short-handed and an empty-netter.
Brian Sutherby and Jamie Heward scored goals 30 seconds apart early in the second to pull Washington to 3-2.
Senators 4, Oilers 3, SO
Mike Comrie and Dean McAmmond scored in the shootout to help Ottawa coach Bryan Murray get his 600th victory.
Mike Fisher had a goal and assist in regulation, and former Oilers McAmmond and Comrie scored against backup Jussi Markkanen in the shootout. Ottawa won its fifth straight and third consecutive at home.
Martin Gerber stopped 27 shots for his sixth straight win and third in relief of the suspended Ray Emery.
Petr Sykora scored twice and Tom Gilbert got his first NHL goal for Edmonton.
Blues 5, Blue Jackets 4, SO
Lee Stempniak and Doug Weight scored in the shootout to lift host St. Louis to its fourth straight win.
Stempniak, Bill Guerin, David Backes and Christian Backman scored in regulation for the Blues. David Vyborny, Jason Chimera, Ron Hainsey and Rick Nash had Columbus' goals.
Avalanche 4, Flames 3
At Denver, Paul Stastny had two goals and an assist, and Peter Budaj stopped 33 shots _ including 16 in the third period _ for Colorado. Milan Hejduk added a goal and an assist, and Marek Svatos got the game-winner 1:24 into the third period.
Tony Amonte, Dion Phaneuf and Kristian Huselius scored for Calgary, and Miikka Kiprusoff had 28 saves. Canucks 3, Ducks 2, OT
Dany Sabourin stopped 38 shots for his first NHL victory, Daniel Sedin scored on a power play 2:19 into overtime, and visiting Vancouver won the matchup of division leaders.
Kevin Bieksa and Markus Naslund also scored for the Canucks.
Tim Brent opened the scoring with his first NHL goal, Chris Kunitz connected on a power play and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 28 saves for Anaheim.