The Penguins are suddenly the picture of health, and the NHL’s hottest team is making the Eastern Conference playoff race a fight to the finish.
Crosby returned from a 40-game absence caused by concussion symptoms, and Letang rejoined the lineup after missing the past five because of the same ailment. That gave the Penguins their most complete lineup in months, and Pittsburgh responded with a thorough 5-2 victory over the East-leading New York Rangers on Thursday night.
The Penguins have won 10 in a row, including two wins over the Rangers in that spurt, and now trail New York by four points.
PANTHERS 6, BRUINS 2
In Sunrise, Fla., Jose Theodore stopped 24 shots and Florida scored three second-period goals to beat Boston.
Wojtek Wolski, Tomas Kopecky, John Madden, Stephen Weiss, Marcel Goc and Mikael Samuelsson scored for the Panthers.
FLYERS 3, ISLANDERS 2
In Uniondale, N.Y., Ilya Bryzgalov made 29 saves, coming within 6:30 of a fourth consecutive shutout, and Philadelphia won for the seventh time in eight games.
Zac Rinaldo, Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell scored for the Flyers, who stayed two points behind Pittsburgh for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
MAPLE LEAFS 3, LIGHTNING 1
In Tampa, Fla., James Reimer made 34 saves, taking a shutout into the final minute as Toronto snapped a five-game skid.
John-Michael Liles, Joey Crabb and Jake Gardiner scored for the Maple Leafs.
DEVILS 1, AVALANCHE 0 (SO)
In Newark, N.J., Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise each scored in the shootout to lead New Jersey.
win with stops on Milan Hejduk and Peter Mueller.
HURRICANES 2, BLUES 0
In Raleigh, N.C., Chad LaRose and Jeff Skinner scored, and Cam Ward recorded his 200th NHL victory as Carolina beat St. Louis.
It was the 20th career shutout for Ward, who made 40 saves in his fourth shutout of the season.