Defensive ace Jan Erixon scored a goal and set up two more in the first period and John Vanbiesbrouck made 37 saves as the New York Rangers held off the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Friday night.
The Rangers won for the eighth time in their last 11 games and opened up a six-point lead in the Patrick Division over the Washington Capitals who were idle. The Devils, who opened the season with a 7-0-1 streak at home, lost their second straight game at the Meadowlands.Devils netminder Chris Terreri suffered his first defeat at home since January 12. His record over that period was 11-0-1, including five straight wins this season.
Erixon, the Rangers' best defensive forward, was the offensive catalyst in New York's three-goal first-period outburst.
He opened the scoring at 4:41, taking a lead pass from Brian Leetch in his own zone, skating through center ice and splitting defensemen Bruce Driver and Ken Daneyko before putting a 20-footer over the Terreri's right shoulder.
At 13:28, Darren Turcotte took a pass from Erixon and drilled a 40-foot shot over Terreri's glove to give New York a 2-0 lead.
With 1:33 left in the period, James Patrick scored on a wrist shot from the right circle following feeds from Turcotte and Erixon to put New York ahead 3-0.
New Jersey's John MacLean scored a power-play goal 22 seconds into the second period to make it 3-1. Kirk Muller dug the puck out along the left boards and fed a centering pass to Peter Stastny in the slot. Stastny threw a cross-ice pass to MacLean, who put the puck into the wide-open left side of the net.
The Devils pressed throughout the third period, but managed only a late goal by MacLean, who knocked in Brendan Shanahan's rebound with 25 seconds to play after Terreri was lifted for an extra attacker.
Sabres 7, Canucks 1
At Buffalo, N.Y., rookie Donald Audette and Dave Andreychuk each scored twice as the Buffalo Sabres got back to the .500 mark with a 7-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Defenseman Doug Bodger added a goal and two assists for Buffalo (6-6-4). Dean Kennedy and Mikko Makela also scored for the Sabres, who are 5-1-1 after a 1-5-3 start.
Jyrki Lumme's goal at 15:20 of the first period was the only one of Vancouver's 16 shots to beat Clint Malarchuk as the Sabres outshot the Canucks 34-16. Vancouver was playing its third game in four nights and came to Buffalo after a 5-3 win in Toronto on Thursday night.
The Sabres took a quick lead when Kennedy's surprise shot from just inside the blue line eluded goaltender Kirk McLean just 40 seconds into the game.
It became 2-0 at 3:55 when Andreychuk intercepted a pass deep in the Vancouver zone and fed Audette, who beat Steve Weeks cleanly. Weeks had replaced McLean, who suffered an injury, 1:06 into the game.
Jets 5, Whalers 4
At Winnipeg, Manitoba, Bob Essensa made 33 saves and Winnipeg scored five times on its first 12 shots to beat the Hartford Whalers.
The Jets, outshot 37-20, scored all their goals in the first 28:34 and held on as the Whalers scored two goals in the third period.
Thomas Steen, Mark Kumpel, Greg Paslawski, Scott Arniel and Randy Carlyle scored for Winnipeg. Pat Verbeek had two goals for the Whalers (4-9-3), who are 0-7-1 in their last eight games.