Brandon Dubinsky scored shortly after a fight-filled opening faceoff, and the Rangers became the first Eastern Conference team to earn a playoff spot by beating the visiting New Jersey Devils, 4-2, Monday night.
Three fights broke out at the outset and that seemed to jump-start the Rangers, who had lost two straight and five of seven as their once commanding lead in the East dwindled to almost nothing.
Defenseman Dan Girardi scored in the first minute of the second period, and Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan added goals for the Rangers, who lead the Penguins by three points. New York (45-20-7) has 10 games remaining. Pittsburgh has 11 to play, including one against the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 shots and got the Rangers back on track after home losses to Colorado and Pittsburgh. The Rangers often have struggled until the final days to get into the playoffs, but now they have joined Western Conference-leading St. Louis as the only teams to qualify.
Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora had goals, and Martin Brodeur made 23 saves for the Devils, who are sixth in the East.
Gloves and sticks hit the ice about the same time as the puck, and six of the 10 skaters squared off to fight.
Capitals 5, Red Wings 3 - Alexander Ovechkin scored twice and visiting Washington held on to beat Detroit.
Braden Holtby contributed 30 saves to send Detroit to its fifth straight loss.
Sabres 7, Lightning 3 - Marcus Foligno and Jason Pominville each scored twice and visiting Buffalo routed Tampa Bay, keeping the Sabres two points behind eighth-place Washington.
Wild 2, Canucks 0 - Erik Christensen’s power-play goal late in the second period gave Josh Harding and host Minnesota the win over Vancouver.
Ducks 5, Sharks 3 - Bobby Ryan had a goal and two assists and Jeff Deslauriers won in his first game in more than two months as Anaheim dumped host San Jose.