The Sabres and Bruins stage an emotional game in Boston, plus the latest on Ilya Kovalchuk, Antti Niemi, Jeff Skinner, Kari Lehtonen and more.

Bruins and Sabres salute Boston crowd.

Bruins and Sabres salute Boston crowd.

BOSTON GLOBE/THE BUFFALO NEWS: Drew Stafford scored the winning goal in a shootout as the Buffalo Sabres downed the Boston Bruins 3-2 in  the Bruins first home game since the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday. It was an emotional game, which began with the Boston fans signing a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and ended with both clubs saluting the crowd at center ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins also clinched a playoff berth and moved into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens for first in the Northeast Division. The Sabres, meanwhile, kept their playoff hopes live, moving within two points of eighth overall. On a personal note, I got a little choked up watching the Boston fans singing the anthem. Bless you, Boston, you will persevere, and justice will be served upon those responsible for the bombings.

POST-GAZETTE.COM: No Crosby, Malkin, Neal or Martin for the Penguins? No problem, as newcomers Brenden Morrow (2 goals) and Jarome Iginla (1 goal, 1 assist) lifted the Penguins to a 6-4 win over the slumping Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla also tallied his 1,100 career NHL point in the game. The victory snuffed out any chance the Canadiens might have had of overtaking the Penguins for first overall in the Eastern Conference.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Fedor Tyutin tallied in overtime as the Columbus Blue Jackets nipped the Anaheim Ducks 3-2.

DETROIT NEWS: The Calgary Flames pounced on two costly third period misplays by Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, lifting the Flames to a 3-2 victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets victory and the Red Wings loss vaulted the former into eighth overall in the Western Conference, two points up on the latter.  The Blue Jackets have won eight of their last 10 games, including five in a row, and now sit only one point back of the seventh overall St. Louis Blues, who hold two games in hand.

NJ.COM: Injured Devils Ilya Kovalchuk and Bryce Salvador might not return for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should be the final nail in the Devils coffin this season. To have any realistic shot, they needed at least a healthy Kovalchuk in the lineup.

MERCURYNEWS.COM: Goaltender Antti Niemi is the reason behind the San Jose Sharks recent resurgence. He’s tied for most wins this season among NHL goalies and tied for second in shutouts (4), possesses the eighth-best goals-against average (2.12) and fifth-best save percentage (.926).

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: It’s unclear how long Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner will be sidelined. Skinner was knocked out of the Hurricanes recent game against the Ottawa Senators by a Jared Cowen hit. So far, there’s no confirmation if he’s received another concussion.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen has returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with a groin injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for the Stars playoff hopes.

MIAMI HERALD: In an injury-filled season for the Florida Panthers, Brian Campbell and Tomas Fleischmann have been the exceptions.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Dustin Penner is struggling again. Quelle surprise.

WASHINGTON POST: Marcus Johansson has been overshadowed by his superstar linemates Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, but he’s been a quiet factor in the Capitals recent success.

CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman wonders if six outdoor games might be too taxing for NHL players.