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Rangers jump back into seventh

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The New York Rangers will have a happy flight back East.

The Rangers could have been flying home after Saturday's game outside the top eight in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Instead, they'll head back in seventh place after earning two points by beating the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Saturday night at HP Pavilion.

Henrik Lundqvist got the Rangers to the shootout by making 31 saves through 65 minutes, then stopped five of six shots in the tiebreaker before Brandon Dubinsky scored in the sixth round for the win.

With 76 points, the Rangers moved two ahead of Buffalo, which lost in Toronto, and four in front of Carolina, a loser at home to Columbus.

In the West, Calgary missed a chance to go from eighth to fourth by losing 4-3 to Vancouver, which completed a perfect five-game road trip.

Here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Saturday night's games:

Eastern Conference

Division leaders:

Philadelphia (91 points after Saturday's 5-4 home OT loss to Atlanta) looked like it was on the way to an easy win against the Thrashers, but couldn't hold a 3-0 lead in the third period or a 4-2 lead in the final three minutes. If the Flyers come up a point short in the race for the division title or conference crown, they'll rue the one that got away.

Washington (88 points) takes a seven-game winning streak into Sunday afternoon's visit from the Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC). The Caps have won their last two without All-Stars Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom.

Boston (85 points) has the weekend off after back-to-back losses to the Sabres and Islanders. The Bruins don't play again until Tuesday night in Columbus.

The next five:

Pittsburgh (86 points after Saturday's 3-0 home loss to Montreal) fell behind in the first minute against the speedy Canadiens, allowed two more goals in the second period and showed little life in the third, disappointing their 200th consecutive sellout crowd at home. The Pens get right back to work on Sunday in a game they absolutely have to win -- last-place Edmonton comes to the Consol Energy Center for an afternoon game.

Tampa Bay (85 points after Saturday's 4-3 OT loss at Florida) scored twice late in the third period to force overtime but allowed Florida to escape with the extra point by allowing a goal with 16 seconds remaining in OT. The Bolts head for Eastern Canada and a three-game swing that starts Monday night in Toronto.

Montreal (83 points after Saturday's 3-0 win at Pittsburgh) moved within two points of first-place Boston in the Northeast Division by playing a near-perfect road game -- take an early lead, add some insurance and shut down the opponent. Carey Price faced 26 shots, few of them testing, in his eighth shutout.

New York Rangers (76 points after Saturday's 3-2 shootout win at San Jose) earned a split of their two games in California when Brandon Dubinsky got the winner after Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots through 65 minutes and five of six in the shootout -- the Blueshirts are now 8-2 in the tiebreaker. The Rangers fly home Sunday and are off until the Islanders come to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

Buffalo (74 points after Saturday's 4-3 loss at Toronto) ran out of gas in the third period of the finale of their seven-game trip, as Ryan Miller allowed two goals in a 2:33 span to turn a 3-2 lead into a loss. The Sabres can't be displeased with a 4-2-1 trip; however, they don't get any time to worry about the two points that got away -- they host Ottawa at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

On the outside looking in:

Carolina (72 points after Saturday's 3-2 home loss to Columbus) missed a golden chance to move up by letting the struggling Blue Jackets win at the RBC Center. The biggest culprit was the power play, which went 0-for-9 in nearly 14 minutes with the extra man. It's the kind of loss no team can afford during a playoff run.

Toronto (70 points after Saturday's 4-3 home win against Buffalo) was looking at an eight-point hole when it came out for the third period down 3-2 at home to the Sabres. But goals by Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel just over 2 1/2 minutes apart early in the third period -- plus a 39-saver performance by James Reimer -- instead moved the Leafs within four points of eighth place.

Atlanta (70 points after Saturday's 5-4 OT win at Philadelphia) looked like a beaten team when it came out for the third period down 3-0 on the road against the Flyers. But Atlanta scored four times in the final 20 minutes -- twice in the last 2:59 -- before Ron Hainsey's OT winner gave the Thrashers an improbable win and moved them within four points of eighth place.

New Jersey (68 points after Saturday's 3-2 OT home win against the Islanders) continued its incredible second-half run by winning in overtime for the second time in two nights. Anssi Salmela's picture-perfect snap shot gave the Devils the win on a night they outshot the Isles 35-15. New Jersey is now 22-3-2 in its 27 second-half games after a 10-29-2 first half.

Florida (65 points after Saturday's 4-3 OT win against Tampa Bay) kept its flickering hopes alive when Jason Garrison scored with 16 seconds remaining in overtime after the Panthers had blown a 3-1 lead in the final eight minutes of regulation.

New York Islanders (65 points after Saturday's 3-2 OT loss at New Jersey) had to settle for one point -- but even that was a bonus on a night when they were outshot 35-15. Al Montoya stole a point with made 32 saves but had no chance on David Clarkson's tying goal in the third period or Anssi Salmela's OT winner.

Western Conference

Division leaders:

Vancouver (99 points after Saturday's 4-3 win at Calgary) closed in on its third straight Northwest Division title by rallying from a two-goal deficit to beat the Flames, increasing its lead over second-place Calgary to 18 points. The Canucks, who had split a six-game homestand, completed a 5-0-0 trip and have a nine-point margin in the Western Conference race and an eight-point edge in the overall standings.

Detroit (90 points after Saturday's 5-3 win at St. Louis) blew a 3-1 lead early in the third period, but took command in the final 10 minutes on goals by Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader to win for the second time in as many nights. The Wings improved their lead in the Central Division over Chicago to nine points.

San Jose (86 points after Saturday's 3-2 home shootout loss to the Rangers) had a disappointing end to a six-game homestand, with back-to-back shootout losses to the Canucks and Rangers. The Sharks still lead the Pacific Division by four points, but let points get away in each of the last two games after having the better of the play through 65 minutes.

The next five:

Dallas (82 points) welcomes Los Angeles to the American Airlines Center on Sunday in the third game of a seven-game homestand. The Stars are 1-0-1 in the first two, including Friday's 4-0 win against Minnesota.

Chicago (81 points) has an early call on Sunday -- the Hawks' game at Washington starts at 12:30 p.m. ET (NBC). They should be well-rested after not playing since Wednesday.

Los Angeles (81 points) has won at Detroit and Columbus on its four-game road trip as it prepares for Sunday's visit to Dallas.

Phoenix (81 points) had two days off before beginning a tough week with a game at Anaheim on Sunday. The Coyotes follow that game with three games in four nights in Western Canada.

Calgary (81 points after Saturday's 4-3 home loss to Vancouver) jumped on the Canucks for two quick goals but couldn't hold off the NHL's No. 1 team. The Flames, who could have jumped four spots with a win, have lost consecutive games for the first time since the first week of January.

On the outside looking in:

Nashville (80 points after Saturday's 4-2 home win against Colorado) made it 2-for-2 on its five-game homestand by fending off the pesky Avs, who outshot Nashville 38-29 and twice crept within a goal before Martin Erat hit the empty net in the final seconds.

Anaheim (79 points) is back at the Honda Center to host Phoenix on Sunday after winning easily at Colorado on Friday. The Ducks have another week in Southern California before playing four of their last five games in March on the road.

Minnesota (77 points) has the weekend off to regroup after back-to-back 4-0 losses at Nashville and Dallas. The bad news: They visit Vancouver on Monday and San Jose on Thursday before returning home.

Columbus (73 points after Saturday's 3-2 win at Carolina) snapped a seven-game losing streak by doing what it does best -- beat up on the East. Steve Mason made 29 saves as the Jackets improved to 10-2-1 against Eastern teams.