CAPITALS, BLACKHAWKS KEEP PACE IN PRESIDENTS' TROPHY RACE
The Washington Capitals (48-17-8, 104 points) and Chicago Blackhawks (48-20-6, 102 points), who sit atop the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively, had shootout wins to improve their position in the race for the Presidents' Trophy:
* T.J. Oshie scored the lone goal in the shootout to guide the Capitals to a 2-1 defeat of the Columbus Blue Jackets (47-19-7, 101 points) in a battle between two of the top three teams in the NHL. The Capitals got their 30th home win of 2016-17, most in the NHL, to match a single-season franchise record set in 1985-86 and equaled in 2009-10. Braden Holtby made 29 saves for his 38th win of the season to move within one of tying Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 44 saves in a losing cause, for the League lead.
* Patrick Kane scored in regulation and the shootout to help the Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory, extend their point streak to seven games (6-0-1) and open an eight-point lead on the Minnesota Wild (44-23-6, 94 points), who lost in regulation, for first place in the Central Division. Corey Crawford made 42 saves and reached the 30-win mark for the sixth time in his career, second-most among Blackhawks goaltenders after eight by Tony Esposito. The Blackhawks are 18-3-1 since the start of February to lead the NHL in wins (18) and points (37) in that span.
Video: Crawford, Panarin lead Hawks past Stars in SO, 3-2
Home Team in Caps
Tampa Bay 6, BOSTON 3
WASHINGTON 2, Columbus 1 (SO)
TORONTO 4, New Jersey 2
Carolina 4, MONTREAL 1
OTTAWA 2, Pittsburgh 1 (SO)
FLORIDA 3, Arizona 1
ST. LOUIS 4, Vancouver 1
NASHVILLE 3, Calgary 1
Philadelphia 3, MINNESOTA 1
CHICAGO 3, Dallas 2 (SO)
Edmonton 7, COLORADO 4
LOS ANGELES 5, Winnipeg 2
KUCHEROV'S HAT TRICK POWERS LIGHTNING TO CRUCIAL WIN IN BOSTON
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins combined for six goals in the second period, with the Lightning scoring three tying goals, each within 95 seconds of the Bruins taking the lead, before Nikita Kucherov completed a hat trick to seal the Lightning's fourth straight road win.
* At 35-29-9 (79 points), the Lightning moved within three points of the Bruins (38-30-6, 82 points) for the final wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Bruins own a 36-31 advantage in regulation/overtime wins (ROW) and lead the season series, which closes at TD Garden on April 4 (BOS: 3-1-0; TBL: 1-2-1).
* Kucherov has 27 points (16 goals, 11 assists) in his past 15 games dating to Feb. 21, including two of his three NHL hat tricks, to move from a share of 23rd to sixth place in League scoring.
Video: Kucherov's hat trick powers Bolts past Bruins, 6-3
SENATORS, MAPLE LEAFS GAIN GROUND IN ATLANTIC DIVISION
The Ottawa Senators (41-24-8, 90 points) and Toronto Maple Leafs (35-23-15, 85 points) each won to gain ground in the Atlantic Division. The Montreal Canadiens (41-24-9, 91 points) and Bruins (38-30-6, 82 points), the first and fourth place teams in the division, respectively, each lost in regulation.
* Mike Condon made 34 saves through overtime and denied the two attempts he faced in the shootout to help the Senators move within one point of the Canadiens for first place. Condon, who began 2016-17 with the Penguins (1 GP), improved to 19-12-6 in 39 games with the Senators. Mike Hoffman scored the tying goal midway through the third period to extend his point streak to five games (1-5-6).
* William Nylander (1-1-2) and Auston Matthews (0-2-2) were among five rookies to find the score sheet as the Maple Leafs extended their point streak to five games (4-0-1). Nylander had a point for the 10th consecutive game (4-8-12) to establish a Maple Leafs record for longest point streak by a rookie. Matthews, meanwhile, became the third Maple Leafs rookie to reach the 60-point mark in a season (33-27-60) and moved within one point of the Winnipeg Jets' Patrik Laine (34-27-61) for the rookie scoring lead.
Video: McElhinney, Nylander sharp as Leafs top Devils, 4-2
WESTERN CONTENDERS EARN WINS
Four other Western Conference contenders won Thursday:
* Leon Draisaitl (1-1-2) factored on two of five unanswered goals by the Edmonton Oilers in the third period as they overcame a 4-2 deficit to win for the fifth time in their past six games. Draisaitl (3-10-13) became the first Oilers players with six straight multipoint games since Mark Messier from Jan. 16-30, 1990 (8-11-19 in 6 GP), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only longer such run in the past 12 seasons was by the Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier from Nov 3-19, 2007 (7-14-21 in 8 GP).
* Jake Allen made 27 saves and the St. Louis Blues scored four unanswered goals to improve to 9-1-0 in their past 10 games. At 40-28-5 (85 points), the Blues maintained its grasp on third place in the Central Division by virtue of owning the ROW tiebreaker (39-35) against the Nashville Predators (37-25-11, 85 points). The Predators, however, have won three of four games in the season series, which concludes at Scottrade Center on April 2 (NSH: 3-1-0; STL: 1-3-0).
* Pekka Rinne made 24 saves to backstop the Predators (37-25-11, 85 points) past the Calgary Flames (41-29-4, 86 points) in a battle between the two Western Conference wild card teams. Rinne won his 29th game of the season as the Predators improved to 5-1-2 in their past eight games.
* Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Jake Muzzin each had a goal and an assist as the Los Angeles Kings (35-31-7, 77 points) scored four unanswered goals, including three in the third period, to defeat the Jets (33-34-7, 73 points) and keep pace in the race for the final wild card spot from the Western Conference. The win also prevented the Wild, who lost in regulation, from clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Oilers captain Connor McDavid (0-2-2) extended his point streak to six games (3-9-12) to increase his League leads in assists (61) and points (87). … The Carolina Hurricanes extended their point streak to nine games (6-0-3). … The Hurricanes' Elias Lindholm scored to extend his point streak to nine games (4-6-10). … Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was suspended for three games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for interference against Penguins forward Jake Guentzel. … Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak was suspended for two games for boarding Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand. … The starting time of the game between the Predators and Stars at American Airlines Center on April 6 has been changed to 7:30 p.m. CT (originally 7 p.m. CT). … The NCAA Men's Division I Ice Hockey Tournament, which features draft picks from 30 of 31 NHL teams, begins today at 3 p.m. ET when 2017 NHL Draft prospect Jake Oettinger leads Boston University against the University of North Dakota, the 2016 NCAA champion. … Ed Belfour took the ice at United Center as part of the Blackhawks' One More Shift program.
SNEAK PEEK AT FRIDAY'S ACTION
All Times Eastern
NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh, 7 p.m., NHLN, SN, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG+, NHL.TV
Tampa Bay @ Detroit, 7:30 p.m., FS-D, SUN, NHL.TV
San Jose @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., FS-SW, CSN-CA, NHL.TV
Winnipeg @ Anaheim, 10 p.m., PRIME, TSN3, NHL.TV