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Blues set new franchise wins record

AP

Brian Elliott was oh so close to another shutout. He settled for another win.

Elliott stopped 24 shots, and the St. Louis Blues beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 for their franchise-record 52nd victory.

“Two points is a lot more valuable than the ‘SO’ on the scoresheet,” Elliott said.

Maxim Lapierre and Brenden Morrow scored as St. Louis improved to 14-2-0 in its last 16 games against Buffalo. The franchise’s previous record for wins in a season belonged to the 1999-2000 Blues, who won 51 games on their way to their last Presidents’ Trophy.

Elliott improved to 18-5-2 overall and 10-1 at home this season. He was coming off a 1-0 win at Pittsburgh when he had 33 stops.

St. Louis (52-17-7) also moved into a tie with Boston for the most points in the league with 111. The Bruins lost 4-3 to Toronto in overtime.

“It’s in the back of our minds a little bit,” Elliott said about the Presidents’ Trophy. “We definitely want to be the best. It’s all about keeping your head down and working and carrying that momentum into the playoffs.”

Buffalo has the worst record in the NHL at 21-46-9.

“It was a trap game for us,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “You want the game to be easier. We’re trying to get through the game without putting much investment into it and you end up with games like this.

“This is when you need your goalie. I’ve been around Brian for three years. This is the best I’ve ever seen him play. He’s playing terrific.”

Lapierre scored his eighth goal of the season at 1:59 of the second period, giving St. Louis a 1-0 lead. Parked in the slot, Lapierre took a pass from Ryan Reaves and sent a wrist shot past Buffalo goalie Nathan Lieuwen, who was making his sixth career start.

It was Lapierre’s first goal in 23 games. It was the first point by Reaves in 26 games.

“If we’re honest with ourselves, we can play way better,” Lapierre said. “There’s no way we’re happy with our effort tonight. We’re going to have to fix it.”

Sharks 2, Kings 1

In San Jose, Brent Burns and Logan Couture scored second-period goals and the Sharks clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 3 (OT)

In Toronto, Nazem Kadri scored 2:51 into overtime.

Avalanche 3, Rangers 2 (SO)

In Denver, Colorado’s Tyson Barrie scored in the final minute of regulation, and then scored again in the shootout.

Blackhawks 3, Wild 2 (SO)

In Chicago, Marian Hossa scored the lone goal in the shootout as the Blackhawks stopped a three-game losing streak.

Blue Jackets 2, Flyers 0

In Philadelphia, Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 37 shots for his fourth shutout of the season.

Penguins 4, Jets 2

In Winnipeg, Paul Martin returned after an 18-game absence and scored the winner.

Hurricanes 4, Stars 1

In Raleigh, North Carolina, John-Michael Liles had a goal and two assists.

Flames 4, Lightning 1

In Tampa, Karri Ramo had 31 saves for Calgary.