Thrashers fall in shootout

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SUNRISE, Fla. - Jozef Stumpel scored the tying goal in the third period and notched the winner in the shootout, leading the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday.

Bryan Allen also scored for the Panthers, who are hanging on to slim playoff hopes. Florida is in 12th place in the Eastern Conference and trails eighth-place Montreal by six points with five games left.

The victory was only Florida's fourth in 18 overtimes this season. The Panthers' 14 overtime losses are tied for the most in the league with the Los Angeles Kings.

Vyacheslav Kozlov scored twice for Atlanta, which increased its Southeast Division lead to three points over idle Tampa Bay. Both teams have five games remaining.

Craig Anderson, in goal for Florida after Ed Belfour started a franchise-record 27 consecutive games, stopped 33 shots in regulation and overtime. He then stopped Kozlov and Marian Hossa in the shootout.

SABRES 4, DEVILS 3

In Buffalo, N.Y., Jochen Hecht scored twice in leading the Sabres over New Jersey in a meeting of the Eastern Conference's top two teams.

Rookie Daniel Paille and Ales Kotalik also scored, while Ryan Miller stopped 28 shots to help the Sabres extended their lead atop the East standings to seven points over the Devils, as well as idle Pittsburgh and Ottawa.

The Sabres (49-20-7) also moved into a tie for first place in the NHL with Nashville, and inched to within one victory of their second consecutive 50-win season.

Scott Gomez, Paul Martin and Zach Parise scored for the Devils (45-24-8), who were coming off a 3-2 victory at the New York Islanders on Tuesday. Martin Brodeur stopped 19 shots and remains three wins short of matching Bernie Parent's single-season record for victories.

Brodeur has 44 wins, tied with Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, for the NHL lead.

The Sabres took control when Paille and Hecht, with his second of the game, scored 4 minutes apart in the third period to put Buffalo ahead 3-1.

FLYERS 5, HURRICANES 1

In Philadelphia, Martin Biron stopped a penalty shot among his 23 saves and the Flyers stymied Carolina's playoff push with a win over the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes could have moved into a playoff position in the Eastern Conference with a win, but instead the defending Stanley Cup champions are still on the outside of the cutoff line after their second loss in two nights.

The NHL-worst Flyers entered on a four-game losing streak. But sturdy goaltending from Biron, two goals from Jeff Carter, and one each from Derian Hatcher, Mike Knuble and Braydon Coburn were enough for only their ninth home win this season.


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