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Canadiens keep heat on Sabres

Brian Higgins scored twice and Cristobal Huet made 42 saves, leading the surging Montreal Canadiens to a 5-2 victory over the host Buffalo Sabres last night.

Alex Kovalev, Maxim Lapierre, and Francis Bouillon also scored for Montreal, which won its fourth straight and moved within 5 points of first-place Buffalo in the Northeast Division.

Sheldon Souray and Sergei Samsonov each had two assists for the Canadiens.

Ales Kotalik and Jaroslav Spacek scored for Buffalo, which lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Islanders 4, Rangers 3 -- Jason Blake scored three goals and the Islanders took advantage of the depleted Rangers before holding on for the victory.

Blake quickly erased the Rangers' only lead of the night in the first period and then scored two power-play goals in the second for his fourth NHL hat trick as the Islanders took a big lead.

Rick DiPietro gave up two goals to Jaromir Jagr to let the Rangers get close, but ended with 30 saves to win for the fifth time in seven decisions.

Hurricanes 2, Flyers 1 -- In Philadelphia, Justin Williams and Anton Babchuk scored, and Carolina handed the Flyers their franchise-record seventh straight loss.

Simon Gagne scored for the Flyers, who have the fewest points in the NHL (20) and have only three victories at home, also a league low.

Blues 4, Penguins 1 -- Doug Weight and Dan Hinote each had a goal and an assist and visiting St. Louis stopped an 11-game losing streak that was threatening a franchise record, beating the uninspired Penguins.

The Blues began the game with an NHL-low seven victories and a losing streak that was two short of last season's franchise-worst 13 in a row.

Lightning 5, Capitals 4 -- Vincent Lecavalier scored his 200th career goal and assisted on Martin St. Louis's 21st and 22d of the season, helping Tampa Bay build a big lead it nearly gave away before beating host Washington.

Washington's Kris Beech and Bryan Muir scored in the third period to make it a one-goal game with about 7 1/2 minutes left, but Lightning goalie Marc Denis managed to hold on.

Avalanche 7, Oilers 6 -- Andrew Brunette scored three goals and Brett McLean broke a tie midway through the third period, sending Colorado to a victory in Edmonton.

Thrashers 4, Devils 3 -- Marian Hossa scored two shorthanded goals, then connected in the shootout to help visiting Atlanta end a season-high five-game losing streak.

Panthers 7, Maple Leafs 3 -- Gary Roberts scored two goals against his former team and Ed Belfour made 33 saves in his first game in Toronto since he was cut by the Maple Leafs.

Wild 5, Canucks 2 -- Branko Radivojevic scored twice and Brian Rolston had a goal and an assist to lead Minnesota past Vancouver in St. Paul for a split of their home-and-home series.

Flames 5, Kings 3 -- In Los Angeles, David Moss and Richie Regehr scored their first NHL goals, leading Calgary to victory.

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