BLACKHAWKS CLINCH NINTH CONSECUTIVE POSTSEASON APPEARANCE
The Chicago Blackhawks scored five unanswered goals in the third period, including three in a span of 34 seconds, in a 6-3 defeat of the Colorado Avalanche. They become the first Western Conference team to clinch a berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, their ninth consecutive postseason appearance and 62nd in franchise history.
* Chicago's three goals in 34 seconds were the third-fastest run of three goals scored in franchise history, behind 21 seconds at the New York Rangers on March 23, 1952, and 30 seconds at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 15, 1983, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
* The Blackhawks (47-20-5, 99 points) extended their winning streak to five games and increased their lead to seven points atop the Western Conference and Central Division standings. They also moved within one point of reaching the 100-point plateau for the fourth straight season.
* Jonathan Toews (2-0-2) has reached the 20-goal mark in each of his first 10 NHL seasons. Elias notes that Toews became the sixth Blackhawks player to reach the 20-goal mark in 10 or more seasons, joining Stan Mikita (14), Bobby Hull (13), Steve Larmer (11), Denis Savard (10) and Patrick Kane (10).
* Elias adds that Toews also joined Savard (1980-81 to 1989-90) and Kane (2007-08 to 2016-17) as the only Blackhawks to score 20 or more goals in each of their first 10 NHL seasons.
Video: Blackhawks beat Avalanche behind 3rd-period outburst
Home Team in Caps
Columbus 4, NEW JERSEY 1
PITTSBURGH 4, Florida 0
WINNIPEG 5, Minnesota 4
CHICAGO 6, Colorado 3
PHILADELPHIA 4, Carolina 3 (OT)
MONTREAL 4, Ottawa 1
CALGARY 5, Los Angeles 2
BLUE JACKETS CLINCH THIRD POSTSEASON BERTH IN FRANCHISE HISTORY
Lukas Sedlak (SHG) and Brandon Dubinsky each scored penalty shot goals to help the Columbus Blue Jackets clinch a berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, their third postseason appearance (also 2009 and 2014).
* At 47-18-6 (100 points), the Blue Jackets reached the 100-point mark for the first time in the franchise's 17-year history and extended their club record for wins in a season.
* Elias notes that Columbus became the NHL third team to score two penalty shot goals in a game, joining the Vancouver Canucks at the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 11, 1982, and the San Jose Sharks against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 30, 2009.
* Boone Jenner (2-0-2) scored his second shorthanded goal of the season and third in the NHL. The Blue Jackets matched a franchise record with two shorthanded goals in a game, also done at the New York Rangers on Feb. 24, 2007 and at the Colorado Avalanche on March 22, 2011.
* Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves to improve to 7-0-0 with a 1.14 goals-against average, .963 save percentage and three shutouts in March, and got his NHL-leading 39th win of the season.
Video: Blue Jackets top Devils, 4-1, to clinch playoff spot
CROSBY (HAT TRICK) FIRST TO REACH 40 GOALS IN PENGUINS WIN
Sidney Crosby (3-0-3) scored three consecutive goals for the 10th hat trick of his NHL career and Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves for his 44th NHL shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins (45-17-9, 99 points) moved to 7-1-1 in their past nine games.
* Elias notes that Crosby registered the third natural hat trick of his NHL career, two shy of the Penguins record of five held by Mario Lemieux.
* Crosby (40-40-80) became the first player to reach 40 goals this season and moved into a tie with Connor McDavid (25-55-80) for the most points. Crosby reached the 40-goal mark for the second time in his NHL career; he scored 51 in 2009-10.
* Jake Guentzel (0-3-3) and Conor Sheary (0-3-3) had the assists on all three of Crosby's goals to establish single-game NHL career highs for assists.
* MUST SEE: Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist combined for a highlight-reel goal when they opened the scoring. Kessel flipped the puck over the Florida net to Hornqvist, who then batted it out of midair to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.
Video: Crosby scores two goals as Penguins down Devils, 6-4
CANADIENS, FLAMES CONTINUE PUSH FOR POSTSEASON
The Montreal Canadiens (41-23-8, 90 points) and Calgary Flames (41-27-4, 86 points) each won to gain ground in their respective playoff races:
* Jordie Benn scored the game-winning goal to help the Canadiens sweep their home-and-home set with the Ottawa Senators (39-24-8, 86 points) and open a four-point lead atop the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens improved to 2-1-1 against the Senators this season (OTT: 2-1-1) and will conclude their five-game season series at Bell Centre on Saturday.
* Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan each had a goal and two assists as the Flames moved to 13-1-1 in their past 15 games and reclaimed sole possession of third place in the Pacific Division. Brian Elliott made 19 saves and earned his 11th consecutive victory to tie the longest win streak by a goaltender in franchise history set by Mike Vernon from Jan. 17 - Feb. 27, 1989. Elliott has a 1.70 GAA, .942 save percentage and two shutouts during his streak.
JAGR REACHES ANOTHER RARE MILESTONE
Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr skated in his 1,700th NHL game. Jagr, who recently passed Gordie Howe for the most points by an NHL player after turning 40 years of age, became the fourth player to skate in 1,700 career regular-season games, joining Howe (1,767), Mark Messier (1,756) and Ron Francis (1,731).
Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling made 22 saves to extend his personal win streak to six games. He has a 1.51 GAA and .951 save percentage during his streak. … Travis Konecny tied the game in the final minute of the third period and Brayden Schenn scored 38 seconds into overtime to guide the Philadelphia Flyers to victory. … The Winnipeg Jets surrendered a 4-0 lead, but Josh Morrissey scored the go-ahead goal at 12:43 of the third period to lift the Jets to a 5-4 win. … Jets captain Blake Wheeler had two assists to reach the 500-point milestone (194-306-500). … Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal skated in the 1,000th game of his NHL career. … Jack Johnson (700) and Torrey Mitchell (600) also skated in milestone games. … Elias Lindholm (3-5-8 in 7 GP) and Artemi Panarin (4-4-8 in 6 GP) each extended point streaks. … Canadiens forward Paul Byron (1-1-2) reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career.
SNEAK PEEK AT MONDAY'S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Boston @ Toronto, 7:30 p.m., TVA Sports, TSN4, NESN, NHL.TV
Buffalo @ Detroit, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, FS-D, NHL.TV
Arizona @ Nashville, 8 p.m., FS-TN, FS-A, NHL.TV
San Jose @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., FS-SW, CSN-CA, NHL.TV
Los Angeles @ Edmonton, 9 p.m., SNW, FS-W, NHL.TV