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Henrik Sedin takes scoring lead as Canucks rout Flames

by John Kreiser
Saturday's season-finale against the Calgary Flames meant nothing to the Vancouver Canucks in terms of playoff seeding. It did mean something to Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who put on a show for the home folks at GM Place.

Henrik regained the NHL scoring lead with four assists, three on Daniel's hat trick, as the Canucks closed their season with a 7-3 demolition of the Flames. The four assists gave Henrik a franchise-record 112 points -- and a three-point lead over Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who finishes his season Sunday against Boston.

"We had a great start. The coaches did a great job of playing us as much as we wanted to," said Henrik, who got 25:24 of ice time. "I can't do anything about what the other guys do. I tried my best, and we'll see how it goes."

After Rick Rypien scored 3:39 into the game, Henrik assisted on goals by Kevin Bieksa and Daniel to pass Ovechkin and help the Canucks to a 3-0 lead. Calgary got within 3-2 on a pair of goals by Nicklas Hagman before Ryan Kesler scored at 6:17 of the second.

Henrik then helped the Canucks blow the game open in the third period by getting the primary assists as Daniel scored twice in 20 seconds to complete his hat trick. Chants of "MVP" echoed throughout the building after his fourth assist.

"He deserves it," linemate Alex Burrows said. "People all over North America are going to realize that he's as good as Ovechkin or (Sidney) Crosby, but in a different kind of way."

So Henrik, will you watch to see how Ovi does against the Bruins?

"I don't know -- not too close," he told Hockey Night in Canada. "It's nothing I can do anything about. I might watch it. We'll see."

And what would it mean to become the first Canuck in the franchise's 40-year history to win the Art Ross Trophy as the regular-season scoring champion.

"If you look at the guys who have done it, it's unbelievable players," he said. "To even be up there, it's something we've never really thought about, especially with the early years in Vancouver where things didn't work out as we wanted to. The people have been patient and we worked hard. It's better to be here, because it shows hard work pays off."

Rene Bourque added one for Calgary at 17:02 before Bieksa closed the scoring 32 seconds later.

The Canucks will open the playoffs next week as the third seed after winning the Northwest Division title. The Flames are out of the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

"We have to regroup and get ready for a bounce-back year, as a team and personally" said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, whose 32 goals were his lowest total since 2000-01. "I still think we have a lot of good things going for our team. But there's no question we need to improve."

Sharks 3, Coyotes 2 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

San Jose gave itself a chance to finish first in the West by outlasting the Coyotes in its season-ender at HP Pavilion. The Sharks couldn't hold leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in regulation and saw the Coyotes pull even in the shootout after San Jose scored on its first two attempts before rookie Logan Couture beat Ilya Bryzgalov in the fifth round.

The win gave the Sharks 113 points, two more than Chicago for the top seed in the West. The Blackhawks can clinch the top seed in the conference by winning at home Sunday against Detroit -- they have the tiebreaker because they have won more games than San Jose.

"It's out of our hands now," said forward Ryane Clowe, who scored in the second round of the shootout. "We did what we could do. We won the games we needed to win.

"We played well coming down the stretch. That's a good sign."

After Couture scored on his first career shootout attempt, Evgeni Nabokov preserved his 44th win by stuffing Shane Doan at the side of the net.

"We came into the season wanting to make sure we were in the playoffs," captain Rob Blake said. "We accomplished that and we gave ourselves a chance to be first in the West. We'll see what happens (Sunday). We've done that part. We know we're competing this week in the first round and we go from there."

Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks. Lee Stempniak tied the game early in the second with his career-high 28th on a wraparound after a giveaway. Matthew Lombardi tied it 1:47 into the third period with a slapper from the slot after San Jose failed to clear the puck.

Phoenix is headed for the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and was locked into fourth in the West before the game.

"It's a fine line," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "You want to come out and make sure you don't lose anybody in a meaningless game, but at the same time you've still got to be competitive."

Predators 2, Blues 1 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Nashville reached the 100-point mark when Martin Erat scored the only goal in the shootout, delighting the crowd at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators can finish as high as fifth in the West if both Detroit and Los Angeles lose on Sunday.

Jason Arnott scored 5:26 into the third period to give Nashville a 1-0 lead, but David Backes beat Pekka Rinne at 10:18 to force overtime. After five scoreless minutes, Rinne stopped all three St. Louis shooters while Erat beat Ty Conklin in the second round.

“We got it done but it wasn’t the way we wanted," coach Barry Trotz said. "We didn’t have a lot of detail but we found a way to win and that’s been our mantra. We’ve found ways to win and 100 points is not a bad way to end the season. We’re 14-6-1 in the last stretch and the body of work is good. At the beginning of the year, if you told me we’d have 100, I would be pretty happy."

Rinne stopped 33 shots through 65 minutes; Conklin made 35 saves for the Blues, who played without retiring forward Keith Tkachuk one night after he said farewell with a final appearance at home.

"Keith Tkachuk has been a warrior and force in this league," Trotz said. "He’ll be missed and he’ll be a Hall-of-Famer. He’s been great for all the teams he’s played on. He’ll have a good secondary career in whatever he chooses."

The Blues are done for the season after coming up short on their playoff push.

"We finished a game that meant something to us," coach Davis Payne said. "It didn't mean anything as far as next week goes, but it meant something to us as far as the standard we want to play with going forward."
Oilers 4, Kings 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Rookie goaltender Devan Dubnyk led Edmonton to its third straight victory, turning aside 52 shots and two of three shootout attempts to spoil the Kings' home finale. Ryan Potulny and Shawn Horcoff scored in the penalty-shot tiebreaker for the Oilers, who recovered from blowing a three-goal, third-period lead.

"The guys were really battling out there for me today, and that's how I was able to take away some of those 50-50 pucks," Dubnyk said. "It's never an easy last game of the season, especially when we're not in the playoffs, but there are jobs up for grabs, and no one wants to end on a sour note."

Mike Comrie scored twice and Tom Gilbert's shorthanded goal 5:24 staked the Oilers to a 3-0 lead. But on the 28th anniversary of the "Miracle on Manchester," when Los Angeles rallied from a 5-0 deficit after two periods to beat Edmonton 6-5 in Game 3 of the 1982 Smythe Division semifinals, the Kings had another comeback in them.

Dustin Brown started the rally at 6:39 with a power-play goal, Jarret Stoll trimmed the deficit to one with 7:57 remaining and Michal Handzus forced overtime by beating Dubnyk with 2:34 left. Handzus began the shootout by scoring again, but Dubnyk turned aside Jack Johnson and Ryan Smyth.

"These are important games right now, and to not get two points today is a real disappointment," Kings defenseman Sean O'Donnell said. "I think we need to realize you cannot just turn it on come Wednesday or Thursday next week. It's hard to poke too many holes when shots are like that, but we still need to find a way to get those two points."

Los Angeles controlled its own destiny entering the game and could have locked up the No. 5 seed by beating Edmonton and Colorado in the regular-season finale Sunday. The Kings can still finish fifth, but will now need to win and have Detroit lose its game Sunday to Chicago.

Jonathan Quick dropped to 0-3-3 with a pair of no-decisions in his last eight starts, making only 14 saves and failing once again to pick up his 40th win.

"It doesn't bother me," Quick said. "There's no reason it should. As a team, and me personally, we've won plenty of games to be confident that we're going to win more, so it doesn't affect me at all."

Eastern Conference

Sabres 5, Senators 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Thomas Vanek and the Sabres spoiled Ottawa's celebration of Daniel Alfredsson's 1,000th NHL game by ending a nine-game losing streak against the Senators.

Vanek, returning after missing six games with a lower-body injury, had the first four-goal performance of his career to keep the Sabres in the hunt for the second seed in the East. They can get it with a regulation win at New Jersey on Sunday.

Derek Roy had the other goal and Ryan Miller made 28 saves for his 41st win.

"It was a good game for us overall and it's nice for me to be back and capitalize on my opportunities," Vanek said. "We haven't won in this building in a long time, so this feels great."

Alfredsson, who played in game No. 1,002 on Saturday, became the 44th NHL player to appear in 1,000 games with one franchise. The game followed a 25-minute pregame ceremony.

"It was classy by Buffalo to come out to the bench and be part of the ceremony," said Alfredsson, who admitted to being a little nervous during his speech to 20,500 fans at Scotiabank Place. "It's not something we do every day -- speak in front of a lot of people -- and I kind of lost my train of thought a couple of times when they started chanting my name. All in all, it was a great night and something I'll take with me forever."

The loss meant nothing to the Senators, who will play Pittsburgh in the opening round of the playoffs.

"As much as it (is disappointing) to lose, there are a lot of good things that came out of this day,"  center Jason Spezza said. "It was a pretty special night for Alfie and for everybody to be a part of. We were happy to see him get the recognition he got."

Thrashers 1, Penguins 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Atlanta ended Pittsburgh's hopes for the Atlantic Division title as Bryan Little scored the game's only goal and Johan Hedberg made 33 saves.

The loss, combined with New Jersey's win over the Islanders, wrapped up the division title for the Devils. Pittsburgh is locked into the fourth spot in the East entering Sunday's season-finale on Long Island.

Hedberg and his teammates also kept Pens' captain Sidney Crosby from reaching the 50-goal mark -- he's one behind Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos.

"It's disappointing," Crosby said. "We hoped to win and get second place. We'll have to play a good game (Sunday) and start focusing on the playoffs."

Little scored midway through the second period, lifting a rebound over Marc-Andre Fleury as the Thrashers ended a five-game losing streak that kept them out of the playoffs.

The Penguins will try to regroup in their now-meaningless game against the Islanders -- a team they beat 7-3 in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

"We have to be better," Crosby said. "We have to make sure our game is where it needs to be going into the playoffs."

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