CHICAGO - Rookie Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews scored 55 seconds apart midway through the third period, and the Chicago Blackhawks rallied to beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Sunday night to become the first team to clinch a NHL playoff spot this season.
The Blackhawks defeated the Predators for the second time in two days and improved to 13-0-1 against Central Division teams. Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored for Chicago, and Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal.
Shea Weber and Nick Spaling each had a goal and an assist for the Predators (15-17-8), who are 13th in the Western Conference with 38 points, five behind eighth-place Detroit at the post-season cutoff.
Chicago's Ray Emery stopped 19 shots, following a 20-save, 1-0 win at Nashville on Saturday. The Blackhawks improved to 4-0 against the Predators.
SABRES 3, DEVILS 2, SO.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Nathan Gerbe scored the only goal in the shootout to give Buffalo a victory over New Jersey that extended the Devils' losing streak to seven games.
Steve Sullivan and Mark Fayne, who forced overtime with a short-handed goal, scored for the Devils, who are 0-3-4 in their past seven. That is their longest winless streak since going 0-4-2-1 from Nov. 10-23, 2001.
The Devils' loss clinched a playoff spot for the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
New Jersey (15-14-10), 1-5-6 in its past 12 road games, is 6-12-7 following a 9-2-3 start. The Devils haven't won since star forward Ilya Kovalchuk injured a shoulder.
The Sabres (16-17-6) jumped ahead of idle Philadelphia and into 11th place in the East, two points behind the ninth-place Devils.
STARS 5, SHARKS 4, SO
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Jamie Benn scored the lone goal in the shootout and Kari Lehtonen stopped all three attempts as Dallas snapped San Jose's seven-game winning streak with a come-from-behind victory.
Alex Chiasson started the rally from a two-goal deficit in the third period when he scored his second goal of the game, and Loui Erickson tied it for the Stars, who have won two straight following a three-game losing streak. Eric Nystrom also scored, and Lehtonen made 32 saves through overtime for Dallas.
The Stars also erased a 2-0 deficit before falling behind 4-2.
Tommy Wingels, Brent Burns, TJ Galiardi and Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored for the Sharks, who had won the first six games of their seven-game homestand. San Jose failed in its attempt to become the first NHL team to win every game on a homestand of at least seven games, according to STATS.
San Jose's Antti Niemi made 30 saves.
BLUES 1, RED WINGS 0
Porter scored his second goal of the season off a goalmouth scramble with 3:32 remaining in the second period. Elliott earned his first shutout of the season.
Jimmy Howard stopped 24 shots for Detroit, which dropped from seventh to eighth in the West.
WILD 3, BLUE JACKETS 0
Pominville, acquired this week from Buffalo, earned his first points with Minnesota.
Backstrom and his staunch defence did the rest until Pominville scored late off a tape-to-tape pass from Zach Parise. Backstrom earned his second shutout of the season and 28th of his NHL career.
CAPITALS 4, LIGHTNING 2
WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored twice to make it five goals in two games, and Washington beat Tampa Bay.
Ovechkin scored his 24th and 25th goal — giving him 16 in 14 games — to pull even with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for the top spot in the NHL.
Washington has won four straight and eight of 10.
Lecavalier and Alex Killorn scored for the Lightning. Tampa Bay trails Washington by eight points with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
DUCKS 3, KINGS 2, SO
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Corey Perry scored late in the second period and added the winning goal in the shootout, leading Anaheim closer to the Pacific Division title with a victory over Los Angeles.
Matt Beleskey scored the tiebreaking goal on a power play for Anaheim with 15:06 to play, but Kings captain Dustin Brown tied it with 3:45 left in regulation in the third Freeway Faceoff of the season.
The Ducks were outshot 38-22, but the Pacific Division leaders were perfect in the shootout. Bobby Ryan and Saku Koivu scored on Jonathan Bernier before Perry ended Anaheim's fourth win in six games with a wrist shot.
PANTHERS 1, SENATORS 0
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Dmitry Kulikov scored a power-play goal 10:46 into the third period to lift Florida over Ottawa and send the Senators to their fourth straight loss.
Ottawa's Cory Conacher scored his first goal since being acquired from Tampa Bay on Wednesday. Anderson stopped 15 of 17 shots in his return from an ankle injury sustained against the New York Rangers on Feb. 21.