NEW YORK — The NHL said its realignment plan will not go into effect next season after the players union refused to agree to the changes by the league's Friday deadline.
The deadline was set for schedule-making purposes, the league said.
June's move of the Thrashers from Atlanta to Winnipeg forced the league to reconsider its structure.
In December, the Board of Governors voted to create four conferences, two with eight teams and two with seven. The Lightning was grouped with the Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Panthers, Sabres and Senators. The top four from each conference would make the playoffs.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league was unable to address the union's concerns.
The players were worried about increased travel — under the plan, each team would play all others at least once home and away — and the unequal number of teams in the conferences, which would make it easier for some to make the playoffs, union executive director Don Fehr said in a statement.
The union asked for a sample schedule with each team's travel requirements but the league said it was not possible to provide one, Fehr said.
"We suggested reaching an agreement on scheduling conditions to somewhat alleviate player travel concerns," he said. "But the league did not want to enter into such a dialogue."
Daly suggested the league could take legal action in the form of a grievance.
"It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has unreasonably refused to approve a plan that an overwhelming majority of our clubs voted to support and that has received such widespread support from our fans and other members of the hockey community, including players," Daly said in a statement.
"We have now spent the better part of four weeks attempting to satisfy the NHLPA's purported concerns with the plan with no success."
Game highlights: Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist as the visiting Rangers beat the Penguins 3-1. Pittsburgh has lost three in a row in regulation for the first time this season. Down 2-1 in the third, Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury raced out beyond the faceoff circle but whiffed on a clearing attempt. That led to Derek Stepan's empty-net goal. … Ilya Kovalchuk scored two in the third, including the go-ahead goal with 8:20 left, as the host Devils beat the Panthers 5-2. … Chad LaRose scored the go-ahead goal with 11:50 left in the host Hurricanes' 4-2 win over the Sabres.
Around the league: Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen is day to day with a wrist injury but is expected to sit out today against the Senators. He has played in 223 consecutive games dating to 2009.
First Period—1, Pittsburgh, Lovejoy 1 (Adams, Vitale), 5:43. 2, N.Y. Rangers, Richards 15 (Dubinsky, McDonagh), 18:17. Penalties—Kennedy, Pit (goaltender interference), 6:45.
Second Period—3, N.Y. Rangers, Dubinsky 5 (Callahan, Girardi), 3:09 (sh). Penalties—M.Staal, NYR (high-sticking), 1:42.
Third Period—4, N.Y. Rangers, Stepan 9, 1:20. Penalties—M.Staal, NYR (roughing), 9:41; Rupp, NYR (kneeing), 15:15; Kunitz, Pit (tripping), 15:38; McDonagh, NYR (delay of game), 19:52. Shots on Goal—N.Y. Rangers 7-8-6—21. Pittsburgh 11-13-14—38. Power-play opportunities—N.Y. Rangers 0 of 2; Pittsburgh 0 of 4. Goalies—N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 18-7-4 (38 shots-37 saves). Pittsburgh, Fleury 19-10-2 (21-18). A—18,590 (18,387).
First Period—1, New Jersey, Henrique 11 (Parise), 3:53. 2, Florida, Samuelsson 2 (Goc, Kopecky), 7:33. Penalties—Salvador, NJ (cross-checking), 2:12; Weiss, Fla (high-sticking), 3:21.
Second Period—3, New Jersey, Elias 14 (Tallinder, Fayne), :36. 4, Florida, Barch 1 (Repik, Campbell), 2:46. Penalties—Kulikov, Fla (high-sticking), 15:29.
Third Period—5, New Jersey, Kovalchuk 13 (Elias, Taormina), 11:40. 6, New Jersey, Kovalchuk 14 (Salvador, Henrique), 19:00 (en-sh). 7, New Jersey, Parise 14 (Elias, Zubrus), 19:20 (en). Penalties—Weiss, Fla (tripping), 12:48; Parise, NJ (delay of game), 17:08. Shots on Goal—Florida 6-8-10—24. New Jersey 13-7-9—29. Power-play opportunities—Florida 0 of 2; New Jersey 0 of 3. Goalies—Florida, Markstrom 2-4-1 (27 shots-24 saves). New Jersey, Hedberg 11-6-1 (24-22). A—15,793 (17,625).
First Period—None. Penalties—None.
Second Period—1, Carolina, Faulk 3 (Jokinen, E.Staal), 2:39 (pp). 2, Buffalo, Vanek 19 (Pominville, Hecht), 3:00. Penalties—Weber, Buf (high-sticking), 2:32; Allen, Car (interference), 6:55; Myers, Buf (interference), 15:22.
Third Period—3, Carolina, E.Staal 10 (Ruutu, Gleason), 1:11. 4, Buffalo, Pominville 14, 6:12. 5, Carolina, LaRose 11, 8:10. 6, Carolina, Bra.Sutter 10 (E.Staal), 18:29 (en-pp). Penalties—Gerbe, Buf (holding), 7:50; Jokinen, Car (roughing), 7:50; Boyes, Buf (tripping), 11:37; Faulk, Car (cross-checking), 16:19; Adam, Buf (high-sticking), 17:55. Shots on Goal—Buffalo 12-9-12—33. Carolina 15-8-12—35. Power-play opportunities—Buffalo 0 of 2; Carolina 2 of 4. Goalies—Buffalo, Miller 10-11-2 (34 shots-31 saves). Carolina, Ward 14-15-6 (33-31). A—16,095 (18,680).