OFFENSE POWERS STARS TO POSTSEASON BERTH
Vernon Fiddler (2-0-2), Colton Sceviour (1-1-2) and Jamie Benn (0-2-2) had multipoint games to help the Dallas Stars win their third straight game and clinch a berth in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
* The Stars (44-21-9, 97 points), who are headed to the postseason for the 33rd time in North Stars/Stars history, maintained a two-point lead on the St. Louis Blues (43-22-9, 95 points), who beat the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference.
* Benn had his 23rd multi-point game of 2015-16, tied for second in the NHL behind the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (24). With 82 points in 74 games, Benn is five points from matching his NHL high set last season, when he won the Art Ross Trophy, and 10 points behind the Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane, who has 92 points in 73 games, for the League lead.
* Dallas scored four goals in the first period of a game for the third time this season and second time at United Center (also Feb. 11 at CHI: 4-2 W). They also accomplished the feat Dec. 8 against CAR (6-5 W). Before this season, the Stars scored four goals in the first period of a game three times since the start of 2002-03 (Nov. 4, 2005 vs. CHI, Dec. 23, 2008 at TOR and Oct. 14, 2009 vs. NSH - all four goals in the first en route to wins), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
* The Stars won four of five games with the Blackhawks in 2015-16 (DAL: 4-1-0, CHI: 1-4-0) and held 4-0 leads at any point in each of those victories.
Video: DAL@CHI: Eaves gives the Stars a three-goal lead
Home Team in Caps
Buffalo 3, CAROLINA 2
COLUMBUS 3, Philadelphia 2 (SO)
MONTREAL 4, Anaheim 3
Washington 4, OTTAWA 2
TAMPA BAY 6, Detroit 2
WINNIPEG 2, Vancouver 0
MINNESOTA 2, Los Angeles 1
Dallas 6, CHICAGO 2
ARIZONA 4, Edmonton 2
St. Louis 1, SAN JOSE 0
CAPITALS WRAP UP DIVISION, CONFERENCE TITLES WITH WIN
The Washington Capitals raced to a 3-0 lead in the first period and held off a late Ottawa Senators rally to clinch their ninth division title (first since 2012-13) as well as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the third time in franchise history (also 2009-10 and 2010-11).
* At 52-15-5 (109 points), the Capitals also maintained a 12-point lead on the Stars (44-21-9, 97 points), who beat the Blackhawks on Tuesday, for first place in the NHL. Their 52 victories and 109 points are second in franchise history behind their 54-wins and 121 points in 2009-10, when they won the Presidents' Trophy.
* Washington also improved to 24-9-3 (51 points) as visitors in 2015-16 to match a franchise record for road wins in a season (24-10-7, 55 points, 2009-10). Only San Jose (25-10-3, 53 points) has more road wins and road points this season.
* Nicklas Backstrom (1-1-2) scored his fourth game-winning goal of the season to match a personal NHL high achieved three times before (2007-08, 2009-10 and 2011-12). Alex Ovechkin added his League-leading 43rd goal of the season.
Video: WSH@OTT: Backstrom's sneaky shot gets past Anderson
LIGHTNING DEFEAT RED WINGS TO RECLAIM TOP SPOT IN ATLANTIC ...
Seven players had multipoint games, including Steven Stamkos (1-1-2), to help the Tampa Bay Lightning win for the third time in their past five games.
* At 42-26-5 (89 points), the Lightning leapfrogged the idle Florida Panthers (40-24-9, 89 points) into first place in the Atlantic Division. Though the teams are tied in terms of points, Tampa Bay owns the ROW tiebreaker (TBL: 39, FLA: 33).
* Stamkos scored his eighth game-winning goal of the season, tied for second in the League behind San Jose's Joe Pavelski (10). He also moved into a share of fourth in the League with 34 goals (tied w/ Pavelski, Brad Marchand and Vladimir Tarasenko).
... WHILE BLUE JACKETS STAGE HISTORIC RALLY AGAINST FLYERS ...
The Columbus Blue Jackets erased a 2-0 deficit in the final 64 seconds of regulation before Boone Jenner (1-0-1) scored in the fifth round of the shootout to lift Columbus to its eighth straight home win against the Philadelphia Flyers, dating to Dec. 27, 2008.
* Cam Atkinson forced overtime with 7.6 seconds left in the third period, the ninth game-tying goal in the final 10 seconds of regulation this season.
* Via Elias, the Blue Jackets won when trailing by two goals in the final two minutes of regulation for the first time. They also became the second team to accomplish the feat in the NHL this season, following the Blackhawks, who got third-period goals from by Marian Hossa (18:19) and Duncan Keith (19:33) before Artem Anisimov sealed a 3-2 win in overtime on Nov. 27 at the Anaheim Ducks.
... WILD CARD JOCKEYING CONTINUES
The final wild card positions changed hands in both conferences as a result of games Tuesday:
* The Flyers (35-24-13, 83 points) picked up at least one point for the 11th time in their past 13 games (9-2-2) to leapfrog the Detroit Red Wings (36-26-11, 83 points), who lost in Tampa Bay, and back into the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. Though the teams are tied in terms of points, the Flyers hold one game in hand. The teams play once more this season: April 6 at Joe Louis Arena (PHI: 2-0-0, DET: 0-1-1).
* Devan Dubnyk made a season-high 38 saves to improve to 8-1-1 in his past 11 games and lifted the Minnesota Wild to its third consecutive victory. At 35-28-11 (81 points), Minnesota leapfrogged the idle Colorado Avalanche (38-31-4, 80 points) back into the final wild card in the Western Conference. The teams meet for the fifth and final time this season Saturday at Pepsi Center (MIN: 3-0-1, COL: 1-3-0).
Video: LAK@MIN: Dubnyk sprawls for two nice saves
The Blues and Montreal Canadiens won to prevent their respective opponents, the Sharks and Ducks, from clinching a postseason berth:
* Brian Elliott denied all 37 shots he faced, including 15 in the third period, to post his second straight shutout since returning from injury (also Saturday at VAN) and help the Blues improve to 8-2-0 in their past 10 games and 10-2-0 in their past 12 road games. Elliott, who posted his 33rd NHL shutout and third this season, has consecutive shutouts for the fourth time in his NHL career, and first time since April 7-11, 2013, when he had three in a row.
* Lucas Lessio (1-0-1) scored the tiebreaking goal at 8:13 of the third period, his first in 11 games with the Canadiens, to lift Montreal to an 8-3-1 record in its past 12 home games. Mike Brown had a goal and an assist for his first points in 10 games with the Canadiens. It was his second NHL multipoint game (also Jan. 24, 2011 at CAR: 1-1-2 w/ TOR).
AROUND THE RINKS
* Evander Kane and Johan Larsson scored 60 seconds apart in the final four minutes of regulation to help the Buffalo Sabres overcome a 2-1 deficit for their third win in their past five games (3-1-1). Kane reached the 20-goal milestone for the second time in the NHL (also 2011-12: 30 G w/ WPG).
* Mike Smith made 27 saves to help the Arizona Coyotes extend their point streak against the Edmonton Oilers to 23 games, dating to March 17, 2011 (19-0-4), including a 4-0-1 mark this season. Smith, who celebrated his 34th birthday Tuesday, improved to 13-1-1 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 17 career games against the Oilers.
* Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves to for his first shutout since April 9, 2015 at Colorado. It was his 17th in the NHL, and it helped and help the Winnipeg Jets halt a three-game losing streak (0-2-1). Adam Lowry scored his second game-winning goal of the season to match his rookie total in 2014-15.
Video: VAN@WPG: Pavelec's huge save on Gaunce's breakaway
MILESTONES & BENCHMARKS
* Wild defenseman Ryan Suter had an assist for his 47th point of 2015-16 (8-39-47 in 74 GP) to establish a Wild record for points in a season by a defenseman, one more than Brent Burns (17-29-46) had in 2010-11.
* Coyotes captain Shane Doan played in his 1,458th NHL game to move past Glen Wesley (1,457) for sole possession of 22nd place in NHL history.
* Stars captain Jamie Benn (500) and Ducks forward Mike Santorelli (400) both played in milestone games.
The Capitals improved to 14-0-1 following a regulation loss this season to remain the only team without consecutive regulation defeats in 2015-16. ... Ducks forward Corey Perry reached 30 goals for the third straight season and sixth time in his career (also 2010-11 and 2011-12). … Flyers goaltender Steve Mason made 51 saves through overtime. … Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made 28 saves for his 44th win of the season, four shy of matching the NHL single-season record of 48 wins set by Martin Brodeur in 2006-07. … Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson had his League-leading 61st assist. … Oilers forward Connor McDavid had two assists to extend his assist/point streak to five games (0-7-7). He ranks second in the NHL with 9-21-30 in 26 games since Feb. 2. … Wild forward Erik Haula scored to push his point streak to six games (3-3-6). … Stars forward Cody Eakin (4-3-7) and Senators teammates Mike Hoffman (1-6-7) and Mika Zibanejad (4-2-6) all extended their point streaks to five games. … Flyers captain Claude Giroux (1-0-1) reached the 20-goal mark for the fifth time in the NHL. … Lightning forward Erik Condra (2-0-2) had his fourth multigoal NHL game and first since Dec. 20, 2011 vs. BUF (2-0-2 w/ OTT). … Teams across the NHL paid tribute to the victims of the attack in Brussels, Belgium.