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Islanders, Lightning, Wild clinch playoff berths

NHL news and notes

by NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL


John Tavares had one goal and two assists, including the primary assist on the overtime winner by Thomas Hickey (1-1-2), to rally the New York Islanders past the Washington Capitals and help the Islanders clinch their second straight berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and third in the past four seasons.

* At 44-26-9 (97 points), the Islanders, who occupy the first wild card in the Eastern Conference, kept pace with the Penguins (47-25-8, 102 points) and Rangers (45-26-9, 99 points) in the tight Metropolitan Division. The Islanders hold one game in hand on both clubs.

* Tavares had his fifth three-point game of the season and second in as many days (also Monday vs. TBL: 1-2-3). Hickey had his fourth NHL game-winning goal and third in overtime (also Feb. 21, 2013 at MTL and Dec. 2, 2014 vs. OTT).


* By virtue of the Boston Bruins' shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-30-5, 95 points) wrapped their third straight playoff berth and ninth in franchise history.

* The Nashville Predators' regulation win against the Colorado Avalanche allowed the Minnesota Wild (38-32-11, 87 points) to clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, their fourth straight appearance and seventh in club history.


While the Predators and Wild are locked into the first and second wild cards in the Western Conference, respectively, the remaining six seeds still are to be determined. Four of the eight playoff-bound clubs won Tuesday:

* Artemi Panarin (0-3-3) had at least three points for the third straight game (also April 1 at WPG: 2-2-4 and April 3 vs. BOS: 1-3-4) to help the Chicago Blackhawks (47-26-7, 101 points) improve to 5-1-0 in their past six games and eclipse 100 points for the third consecutive season and sixth time in the past eight. Panarin became the first Blackhawks rookie to post three straight three-point games and the first to do so for any team since 1992-93, when Teemu Selanne had four in a row with the Winnipeg Jets (March 28 - April 3, 1993), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Also according to Elias, since 1993-94 one rookie has compiled more three-point games in a season than Panarin (10 times): Sidney Crosby in 2005-06 (11 times).

* Jeff Carter scored 40 seconds into overtime, after Kris Versteeg tied the game with 36.5 seconds remaining in the third period, to help the Los Angeles Kings establish a franchise record with their 47th win of the season. Carter, who had a goal for the third straight game, scored his eighth NHL overtime goal and third this season. Per Elias, there have been 34 tying goals scored in the final minute of regulation this season. The team that recorded the tying goal has gone on to win 26 of those games.

Video: LAK@CGY: Carter beats Ortio's five-hole for OT winner

* James Reimer made 29 saves for his 14th NHL shutout, and third since joining the Sharks, to backstop the San Jose Sharks to their franchise-record 28th road win of the season (28-10-3, 59 points). Via Elias, only the 2005-06 Red Wings have posted more road wins in a season (31-7-3). Reimer improved to 6-2-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and three shutouts in eight games with the Sharks, compared to an 11-2-7 record, 2.49 GAA and .918 save percentage in 32 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

* Craig Smith scored what stood as the game-winning goal at 4:17 of the third period to help the Predators end a four-game losing streak (0-3-1), improve to 8-1-4 in their past 13 home games, and also end the Avalanche's bid for a playoff spot. Filip Forsberg (1-1-2) went between his legs for his 32nd goal of the season, one shy of tying the single-season Predators of 33 set by Jason Arnott in 2008-09.


The Florida Panthers scored three unanswered goals, including the go-ahead goal by Nick Bjugstad with 12.2 seconds remaining in the second period, to pick up their fourth consecutive victory and clinch the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

* At 46-25-9 (101 points), the Panthers reached the 100-point milestone for the first time and also extended the club record for wins in a season. It's the Panthers' second-ever division title (also 2011-12: Southeast Division).

* Aleksander Barkov (1-0-1) scored 10 seconds after the opening faceoff to match a Panthers record for fastest goal to start a game, equaling a mark established Oct. 17, 1996 by Johan Garpenlov. Barkov extended his point streak to an NHL career-best seven games (5-6-11), including goals in four straight, also an NHL career high.

* Roberto Luongo made 32 saves to improve to 34-19-6 this season and move within one victory of tying his single-season Panthers record (35-30-9 in 2005-06). His 435 NHL victories place him two behind Jacques Plante (437) for sixth place in NHL history.

Video: FLA@MTL: Luongo slides over to make a great pad save


The Pittsburgh Penguins (47-25-8, 102 points) and New York Rangers (45-26-9, 99 points), the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the Metropolitan Division, respectively, had comeback wins in the race for home ice in the first round of the playoffs:

* The Penguins scored five unanswered goals, including two each by Sidney Crosby and Carl Hagelin, to overcome a 3-0 deficit for their seventh consecutive victory and 13th win in their past 14 games (13-1-0). Via Elias, the Penguins overcame a three-goal deficit to win in regulation for the first time since March 7, 2013 when they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. Crosby has at least one point in 19 of his past 20 games (10-18-28), including seven straight games (4-4-8).

* The Rangers scored three unanswered goals, including the tying and go-ahead goals within the opening 4:46 of the third period, to rally past the Lightning for their second straight win. Derek Stepan (2-1-3) established an NHL career-high with his 22nd goal of the season, one more than he had as a rookie in 2010-11. Stepan has collected six goals and eight assists in his past eight games, including his two three-point games this season (also March 23 vs. BOS: 1-2-3).


Winnipeg and Carolina had shootout wins to steal key points from their opponents:

* Marko Dano tied the game at 16:14 of the third period and Blake Wheeler scored at 3:07 of overtime to lead the Jets past the Anaheim Ducks, preventing the Ducks from maintaining their one-point lead atop the Pacific Division.

* Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin, a Boston native, scored the lone goal in the shootout to lift the Hurricanes past the Bruins, keeping his hometown club outside the playoff picture.


* Erik Karlsson (15-64-79 in 80 GP) scored to become the first Ottawa Senators defenseman with 80 points in one season, and just the second defenseman to reach the mark for any team in the past 20 years (Nicklas Lidstrom: 16-64-80 in 2005-06 w/ DET). Karlsson, who has spent his entire career with the Senators, scored his 100th NHL goal to move within one of tying Wade Redden (101) for the most by a Senators defenseman.

Video: PIT@OTT: Karlsson nets unconventional milestone goal

* Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla (1-0-1) scored his 610th NHL goal to tie Bobby Hull for 16th place in NHL history.

* Islanders goaltender Christopher Gibson (29 saves), a second-round selection (No. 49) by the Kings in the 2011 NHL Draft, had his first NHL win in his second game.

* Panthers forward Brian Campbell played in his 1,000th NHL game. It also marked Campbell's 374th straight game since joining the Panthers, establishing a franchise record for consecutive games played at any point, surpassing Olli Jokinen (373).

* Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ryan Johnston and Jets forward Brandon Tanev made their NHL debuts.

* Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano (1-1-2) reached 300 NHL points.


Jack Eichel (1-1-2) had posted his 12th multipoint game of the season to lead the Buffalo Sabres to their third straight win. Eichel is second among rookies with 24-30-54 in 79 games. … Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (1-2-3) extended his point streak to five games (2-5-7). … Teammate Patrick Kane (1-1-2) had his third straight multipoint game to pad his League lead in points (44-58-102 in 80 GP). … Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (2-0-2) scored his League-leading 46th and 47th goals. … Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau had an assist to extend his point streak to seven games (6-4-10). Teammate Jaromir Jagr (0-2-2), who has 2-7-9 in his past seven games, had his 16th multipoint game of the season. … Penguins goaltender Matt Murray had his sixth straight wain to improve to 8-2-1 with a 1.98 GAA, .930 save percentage and one shutout to start his NHL career. … Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello had two assists to establish an NHL career-high with 61 points this season (26-35-61 in 80 GP). … Five players - Nick Bonino (0-3-3), Sidney Crosby (2-0-2), Carl Hagelin (2-0-2), Patric Hornqvist (1-1-2) and Kris Letang (0-2-2) - had multipoint games for the Penguins. Letang extended his point streak to seven games (2-9-11), while Hornqvist scored for the fourth straight game (4-1-5). … Jets teammates Blake Wheeler (6-6-12) and Mark Scheifele (4-7-11) extended their point streaks to nine and eight games, respectively. … Sharks forward Joe Thornton (0-1-1) extended his point streak to five games (1-6-7).

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