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Around the League notebook for Tuesday, March 31

by NHL Public Relations / NHL.com

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF RACE
(Click chart below to zoom)
WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF RACE
(Click chart below to zoom)
Playoff race chart
Playoff race chart
Related information: "If the playoffs started today ..."  |  Current playoffs standings

TUESDAY'S RESULTS

Home Team in Caps

BOSTON 3, Florida 2

WASHINGTON 4, Carolina 2

COLUMBUS 3, New Jersey 2 (OT)

TORONTO 3, Tampa Bay 1

Ottawa 2, DETROIT 1 (SO)

Vancouver 5, NASHVILLE 4 (SO)

NY Rangers 3, WINNIPEG 2

LUCIC, ROOKIES RALLY BRUINS IN THIRD PERIOD . . .

Down 2-1 after 40 minutes, the line of David Pastrnak (1-1—2), Milan Lucic (1-1—2) and Ryan Spooner (0-2—2) scored the tying and winning goals – at 9:47 and 18:51, respectively – to rally the Boston Bruins past the Florida Panthers for their third straight victory and a 6-0-3 mark in their last nine games at TD Garden.

* The Bruins (39-25-13, 91 points) claimed crucial points to strengthen their grip on the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They maintained a three-point edge over the Ottawa Senators (38-26-12, 88 points) – who won in a shootout – and pulling six points ahead of the Panthers (35-27-15, 85 points).

* The Bruins improved to 10-0-1 in their last 11 games vs. Florida and have won eight straight head-to-head matchups at TD Garden dating to Dec. 23, 2011. That includes a 2-0-1 mark against in 2014-15; the teams close their season series on April 9 at BB&T Center.

* Pastrnak, the Bruins' first-round pick (No. 25) in the 2014 NHL Draft, has back-to-back multipoint efforts (also 1-1—2 Sunday at the Carolina Hurricanes) for the second time this season. He ranks 13th among NHL rookies with 11-16—27 despite appearing in only 41 games.

* Lucic has recorded multiple points in two of his last three outings (2-0—2 Saturday vs. the New York Rangers) to pull into a share of second in team scoring with 18-26—44 (tied w/ Loui Eriksson).

* Spooner posted his second career multiple-assist effort (0-3—3, Dec 23, 2013, at the Nashville Predators) to extend his point streak to four games (2-3—5).

* Eriksson reached the 20-goal milestone for the fifth time in his career. Tuukka Rask stopped 22 shots to improve to 32-19-12 in 65 appearances.

. . . SENATORS ALSO RALLY TO KEEP PACE

Mark Stone assisted on Clarke MacArthur's tying goal at 15:58 of the third period and scored the deciding goal in the shootout to help the Senators rally past the Detroit Red Wings and snap a three-game skid.

* The Senators (38-26-12, 88 points) kept pace with the Bruins (39-25-13, 91 points) – who won in regulation – in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

* Stone ranks third on the Senators and third among all rookies with 19-35—54 in 74 appearances. His game-deciding goal was the first shootout tally of his career.

* Erik Karlsson had the primary assist on MacArthur's goal to pull within one point of 300 in his NHL career (83-216—299). He leads the Senators and all NHL defensemen with 62 points this season; his 42 assists are one back of Kris Letang for the League lead among blueliners.

* MacArthur halted a 14-game goal drought with his fourth game-winning goal of the season. He has 6-1—7 in eight games vs. Detroit since joining the Senators last season (1-0—1 in 5 GP previously).

* Andrew Hammond made 16 saves through regulation and denied two shootout attempts to improve to 15-1-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in 18 appearances this season.

* Hammond is 8-0-1 on the road. Elias says he is the first goaltender to earn a point in each of his first nine career road starts since Brent Johnson (Feb. 26, 1999 – Jan. 13, 2001; 10 GP w/ the St. Louis Blues). The last goaltender to earn a point in his first nine NHL road starts in a single season was Grant Fuhr (Oct. 28 – Dec. 9, 1981; 9 GP w/ the Edmonton Oilers).

OVECHKIN NETS 50TH GOAL IN CAPS WIN

Alex Ovechkin scored his League-leading 50th goal of the season and had the primary assist on Joel Ward's insurance marker to power the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.

* The Capitals (42-25-10, 94 points), who occupy the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, pulled within one point of the idle Pittsburgh Penguins (42-23-11, 95 points) and idle new York Islanders (45-27-5, 95 points), who are tied – in terms of points – for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

* Ovechkin reached the 50-goal mark for the second straight season and for the sixth time in his NHL career. Only five other players have recorded at least six 50-goals seasons: Mike Bossy (9), Wayne Gretzky (9), Marcel Dionne (6), Guy Lafleur (6) and Mario Lemieux (6).

* Ovechkin has 472 goals since making his NHL debut in 2005-06; that's 136 more than Jarome Iginla who ranks second in that span with 336. Ovechkin is tied with Petr Bondra for first place on the franchise's all-time goals list; however, Ovechkin reached the mark in 206 fewer games (Ovechkin: 755 GP; Bondra: 961 GP).

* Ovechkin also surpassed Michal Pivonka and moved into sole possession of second place on the franchise's all-time assists list with 419, three back of Nicklas Backstrom.

* Braden Holtby made 19 saves to earn his 38th win of 2014-15 (68 GP), three shy of the single-season franchise record set in 1999-00 by Olaf Kolzig.

* Mike Green (1-1—2) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (0-2—2) also tallied multiple points for the Capitals. Brooks Laich picked up his second game-winning goal of the season.

RANGERS MATCH FRANCHISE RECORD TO TAKE LEAD IN EAST

Down 2-1, Derick Brassard tied the game midway through the second period and Chris Kreider scored the game-winning goal with 3:46 left in regulation to help the Rangers defeat the Winnipeg Jets and snap a two-game slide.

* The Rangers (48-21-7, 103 points) leapfrogged the idle Montreal Canadiens (47-22-8, 102 points) into first place in the Eastern Conference. They also closed within two points of the idle Anaheim Ducks (49-22-7, 105 points) in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

* The Rangers have won seven of their past eight road games and are 12-2-1 in their past 15 games away from Madison Square Garden dating to Feb. 10. Their 25 road wins lead the League and match a franchise record set in 2013-14. The Rangers also lead all clubs with 52 road points, one shy of the franchise mark established in 2011-12.

* Kreider is second on the club in game-winning goals (5) and overall goals (21). All of his game-winners have come since Jan. 3 (41 GP); prior to that, he had zero game-winning goals in his first 122 career games.

* Brassard (1-1—2) had his team-leading 40th assist to reach the milestone for the first time in his NHL career. His 17 goals are one shy of his career-high set in 2013-14 (81 GP).

* Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves to earn his first win since Feb. 2 vs. Florida. He improved to 26-12-3 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .921 save percentage this season.

* Mats Zuccarello contributed the other goal for the Rangers, who have won four of their five visits to MTS Centre. Overall, New York has earned points in 10 of its last 12 meetings with Western Conference opponents (8-2-2).

CANUCKS HOLD ON, CREATE SPACE IN PACIFIC

The Nashville Predators scored the tying goal with 5:03 left in regulation, but Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata scored tallied in the shootout to help the Vancouver Canucks depart the Music City with their second straight win.

* The Canucks (45-27-5, 95 points) have points in eight of their last 10 games (7-2-1) and have opened a four-point lead over the idle Calgary Flames (42-28-7, 91 points) for second place in the Pacific Division.

* Bonino, who also had two assists in regulation, improved to 9-for-19 (47.4%) in his career with three game-deciding goals. Vrbata scored his 38th career shootout tally, two back of Jonathan Toews for the all-time lead among active players.

* Eddie Lack made 34 saves, half of which came in the third period and overtime, before denying both shootout attempts to earn his fourth straight road win (1.96 GAA, .938 SV%). He has 16 wins in 2014-15 (37 GP), equaling his total from his rookie season (41 GP).

* Linden Vey and Jannik Hansen scored two minutes apart in the second period to erase a 2-0 deficit. Alexandre Burrows (1-1—2) and Chris Higgins provided the other Canucks goals, via the penalty kill and power play, respectively. Dan Hamhuis had two assists.

* Vey became the second Canucks rookie to hit double digits in goals this season (Bo Horvat: 13). Elias says the last time that happened was in 1990-91 when Robert Kron (12), Jay Mazur (11), Petr Nedved (10) and Garry Valk (10) all accomplished the feat.

AROUND THE RINKS

Highlights from the rest of Tuesday's action:

* The New Jersey Devils tied the game with 2:29 left in regulation, but Jack Johnson scored 56 seconds into overtime to help the Columbus Blue Jackets win their seventh straight game and complete March with an 11-4-0 record. Via Elias, Columbus' 11 wins in March are a franchise record for victories in a single month, surpassing the previous mark achieved three times, most recently this past December (10-1-1). Johnson tallied his first game-winning goal since April 27, 2013 vs. Nashville. His other five game-winning goals came in 2011-12, when he also had two overtime tallies with the Kings (Oct. 7, 2011 vs. the Rangers and Oct. 15 at the Philadelphia Flyers). Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky each scored in the opening 4:44 of the second period to help the Blue Jackets wipe out an early 1-0 deficit; Dubinsky's goal came on his first career penalty shot. Ryan Johansen had two assists to stretch his point streak to eight games (3-8—11).

* James Reimer stopped 40 shots, including all 27 he faced during the final two periods, to help the Toronto Maple Leafs earn their second straight victory and improve to 6-1-0 in their last seven home games against the Tampa Bay Lightning dating to Jan. 3, 2012. Reimer has been in net for each of the club's last two overall wins, marking the first time since Dec. 10 and Dec. 14 that he has won consecutive decisions. David Booth scored allied his second game-winning goal of the season and the 19th of his career. Nazem Kadri (1-1—2) and Morgan Rielly supplied the other goals; Rielly has 8-20—28 this season, one point more than his rookie total (2-25—27).

LOOSE PUCKS

Despite their shootout loss, the Predators increased their lead atop the Central Division to four points over the idle St. Louis Blues (46-23-7, 99 points) and five points over the idle Chicago Blackhawks (46-24-6, 98 points). . . . Predators forward Mike Fisher (1-1—2) had two points, including the tying goal late in the third period. . . . Cody Franson, who was selected in the third round (No. 79) by the Predators in the 2005 NHL Draft, scored his first regular-season goal in a Nashville uniform since Feb. 15, 2011 vs. the San Jose Sharks. . . . Slater Koekkoek, Tampa Bay's first-round pick (No. 10) in the 2012 NHL Draft, played in his first NHL game. . . . Hurricanes captain Eric Staal scored his 22nd goal to reach 50 points for the 10th time in his NHL career. . . . Brandon Pirri of the Panthers scored his career-high 21st goal of the season. He also suited up in his 100th NHL game. . . . Red Wings legend Gordie Howe celebrated his 87th birthday. . . . Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek made 33 saves, including a sprawling pad stop on Mark Stone. . . . Mike Cammalleri scored both goals for New Jersey.

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