The New York Rangers kept their play-off hopes alive with a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday that set up a showdown today for the Eastern Conference's final post-season berth. New York's win pulled the Rangers even with the Flyers on 86 points in the race for the eighth and final spot in the East. The Flyers can win the berth with a regulation win over the Rangers today in Philadelphia.
The Rangers can advance with a win or with an overtime or shootout loss coupled with two losses by the Boston Bruins, who are currently sixth in the East with 87 points. Marian Gaborik delivered New York's winning goal with just over three minutes left in the second period. Chris Drury, Jody Shelley and Brandon Dubinsky also scored for the Rangers, who led 3-1 before Philadelphia struck twice in the second period.
Also on Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks moved a large step closer to clinching the top seed in the Western Conference by beating the Colorado Avalanche 5-2. Colin Fraser scored twice while Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist for Chicago, who moved into a tie with San Jose for the lead in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks can clinch the No 1 seed with a win today against Detroit or by tying the Sharks in points.
Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg also scored for Chicago. Ryan Stoa and Darcy Tucker netted for Colorado. In Washington, Alex Ovechkin took over the NHL lead in goals and points as Washington beat Atlanta. Ovechkin set up Nicklas Backstrom's goal in the first period, then scored himself in the second and third to reach 50 for the season. With one regular-season game left, Ovechkin leads Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby by one goal and Vancouver's Henrik Sedin by one point.
* Reuters and AP