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Penguins headed back to the playoffs

NHL News and Notes @NHLdotcom


Matt Murray made 24 saves against the New York Islanders to earn his first NHL shutout (9 GP), give the Pittsburgh Penguins an 11-1-0 record in their past 12 games and help them clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 10th consecutive season, the second-longest active streak in the NHL, behind the Detroit Red Wings (24). 

* At 45-25-8 (98 points), the Penguins pulled three points ahead of the New York Rangers (43-26-9, 95 points) - who lost in regulation - for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

* The Penguins won their fifth in a row, aided by Phil Kessel (1-0-1) who has 5-5-10 during that span. Pittsburgh also won its sixth consecutive road game. 

Home Team in Caps 
Pittsburgh 5, NY ISLANDERS 0 
Dallas 3, LOS ANGELES 2 
Detroit 3, TORONTO 2 
TAMPA BAY 3, New Jersey 1 
FLORIDA 4, Montreal 3 
Buffalo 4, NY RANGERS 3 
Columbus 5, CAROLINA 1 
San Jose 3, NASHVILLE 2 (SO) 
ARIZONA 3, Washington 0 
Calgary 5, EDMONTON 0 


Aleksander Barkov (2-2-4) factored on four unanswered goals, highlighted by his tiebreaking goal with 28.1 seconds remaining in the third period, to help the Florida Panthers overcome a 3-0 deficit and defeat the Montreal Canadiens to maintain first place in the Atlantic Division. They are two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Video: MTL@FLA: Barkov puts Panthers on top late in the 3rd

* At 44-25-9 (97 points), the Panthers established a franchise record for wins in a season, eclipsing the previous best of 43 from 1999-2000 (43-27-12, 98 points). It also marked the 699th victory in franchise history. 

* Via the Elias Sports Bureau, the Panthers overcame a three-goal deficit to win for the first time since Nov. 21, 2011, vs. the New Jersey Devils, when Kris Versteeg (2-1-3) and Stephen Weiss (1-2-3) rallied Florida to a 4-3 regulation victory. 

* Via Elias, Barkov (20 years, 213 days) had his first four-point game in the NHL and became the second-youngest player in franchise history to have four points in a game, after Jonathan Huberdeau (19 years, 262 days) on Feb. 21, 2013 at Philadelphia (2-2-4).

* Huberdeau (1-1-2) established a career high with his 56th point of the season (19-37-56 in 72 GP), two more than he had in 2014-15. Jaromir Jagr (1-0-1) has picked up at least one point in 16 of 21 games since celebrating his 44th birthday on Feb. 15 (9-13-22). 

* Huberdeau scored for the fifth straight contest (6-2-8) to match the longest such run by a Panthers player since Feb. 2-10, 2008 (Olli Jokinen: 5-3-8 in 5 GP). Barkov (3-6-9) and Jagr (2-5-7) extended their point streaks to five games. 


The Lightning (45-28-5, 95 points) and Red Wings (40-28-11, 91 points) also earned victories to keep pace in the Atlantic Division. Detroit, which sat just outside the playoff picture before Saturday, moved ahead of the idle Boston Bruins (41-29-8, 90 points) with their victory and also prevented Florida and Tampa Bay from clinching a playoff berth.

* Nikita Kucherov (1-2-3) matched a career high for points in a game to help the Lightning win for the fifth time in six games and close their regular-season home schedule with a victory (25-13-3, 53 points). Kucherov also established a career high with his 30th goal of the season (74 GP), one more than he had in 2014-15 (82 GP). 

* Brad Richards posted 1-1-2, including an assist on the game-winning goal by Kyle Quincey, to help the Red Wings win for the sixth time in nine games. Richards scored his 298th career goal and had his fourth multiple-point outing of the season. He has 10-17-27 in his first season with Detroit (65 GP). 


Wayne Simmonds (2-1-3) sparked the Flyers (39-25-13, 91 points) past the Ottawa Senators. Philadelphia is 13-3-2 in its past 18 games and moved within two points of the Islanders (42-26-9, 93 points) for the first wild card into the playoff from the Eastern Conference. 

* Simmonds, who had his seventh multiple-goal game of 2015-16 (77 GP), scored his 27th and 28th goals to move within one of tying his career high, set in 2013-14 (82 GP). Steve Mason made 33 saves and is 9-2-2 in his past 13 appearances (1.88 GAA, 0.934 SV%, 1 SO). 

* The Flyers have five games remaining this season, including one each against the Red Wings (Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena) and the Islanders (April 10, at Barclays Center). Philadelphia is 2-0-0 against Detroit and 2-1-1 against the Islanders.

Video: Flyers' power play proves to be too much for Senators


With a playoff spot wrapped up, the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks earned comeback wins on the road in their push for home ice in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs: 

* Down 2-1, the Stars (48-22-9, 105 points) scored twice in the third period to defeat the Los Angeles Kings for their fourth straight win. Dallas is 10-2-2 in its past 14 games and is four points ahead of the idle St. Louis Blues (46-23-9, 101 points) for the top spot in the Central Division and Western Conference. Captain Jamie Benn, who ranks second in the NHL in goals and points, established a career high with his 88th point (41-47-88), one more than he had last season, when he won the Art Ross Trophy. 

* Down 2-0, Tomas Hertl (2-0-2) scored twice in the third period to tie the game and Logan Couture got the lone goal in the shootout to lead the Sharks to their third win in four games. Hertl had his sixth career multiple-goal game (third this season) and reached 20 goals for the first time in the NHL (21-24-45 in 78 GP). At 44-29-6 (94 points), the Sharks sit in third place in the Pacific Division, behind the Kings (46-27-5, 97 points) and Anaheim Ducks (43-24-10, 96 points). 


At 27-10-3 (57 points), the Sharks lead the NHL in road wins and road points; they are just ahead of the Washington Capitals (26-10-4, 56 points). Via Elias, only two teams have totaled more wins as visitors in a season: the 2005-06 Red Wings (31-7-3) and 2014-15 New York Rangers (28-11-2). San Jose (Tuesday at Minnesota) and Washington (Saturday at St. Louis) each play one more road game this season. 


* The Buffalo Sabres raced to a 3-0 lead, powered by Ryan O'Reilly (2-0-2), and weathered a Rangers rally to snap a nine-game losing streak in their head-to-head series (0-9-0 dating to April 19, 2013), preventing New York from clinching a playoff spot. O'Reilly had his sixth career multiple-goal game and reached 20 goals for the second time (also 2013-14: 28 G w/ Colorado). 

* The Columbus Blue Jackets scored five unanswered goals, powered by a natural hat trick by Brandon Saad (3-0-3), to snap a six-game road losing streak. Via Elias, Saad posted his first NHL hat trick (282 GP) to become the first Blue Jackets player to register a natural hat trick since Feb. 25, 2011 vs. Phoenix (Matt Calvert: 3-1-4). Boone Jenner scored with 0.1 seconds remaining in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for the first time.

Video: CBJ@CAR: Saad notches a pretty natural hat trick

* Mikael Backlund (2-1-3) and Johnny Gaudreau (2-0-2) each scored twice to power the Calgary Flames past the Edmonton Oilers in their final visit to Rexall Place. Gaudreau reached 30 goals for the first time in his NHL career. Joni Ortio made 28 saves for his second NHL shutout (also Jan. 10, 2015 at Vancouver: 36 SV). 

* The Arizona Coyotes scored three times in the third period, including two in 27 seconds by Shane Doan (1-0-1) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (1-0-1), to defeat the League-leading Capitals and close their home schedule with a victory. Mike Smith made 31 saves for his 30th NHL shutout and third this season. 


* Forward Sidney Crosby (0-1-1), who has spent his entire career with the Penguins, became the third player in franchise history to have 600 career assists (Mario Lemieux: 1,033 and Jaromir Jagr: 640). Crosby also became the eighth active player to reach the milestone

* Penguins forward Oskar Sundqvist, a third-round selection (No. 81) in the 2012 NHL Draft, scored his first career goal (14 GP). 

* Canadiens defenseman Brett Lernout, a third-round selection (No. 73) in the 2014 draft, made his NHL debut. 

* Lindy Ruff of the Stars became the fifth coach in NHL history (third active coach) to reach 700 career wins (700-516-192). The others: Scotty Bowman: (1,244), Chicago's Joel Quenneville (799), Al Arbour (782) and St. Louis's Ken Hitchcock (754). 


Via Elias, Sharks forward Joe Thornton (0-2-2) reached 60 assists for the eighth time in his career, tied with Jaromir Jagr for the most among active players. Only eight other players have as many such seasons in NHL history, led by Wayne Gretzky with 17. … Forward Max Domi (18-33-51 in 77 GP) had two assists to become the second Coyotes rookie to eclipse 50 points in a season since the club relocated to Arizona (Peter Mueller in 2007-08: 22-32-54 in 81 GP). … Senators captain Erik Karlsson (0-1-1) set a career high with his 79th point of the season (15-64-79), tops among NHL defensemen. …Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist reached 20 goals for the third straight season and sixth time in his career. … Despite their shootout loss, the Nashville Predators picked up at least one point for the 11th time in their past 12 games at Bridgestone Arena (7-1-4). … The Penguins improved to 37-0-0 when leading after two periods this season; they are the only team without a loss of any kind in that situation. … Sharks defenseman Brent Burns had an assist to push his point streak to six games (1-8-9). … Penguins teammates Kris Letang (2-5-7) and Sidney Crosby (1-4-5) each had an assist to extend their point streaks to five games. … Senators forward Mike Hoffman established a career high with his 28th goal of the season. … Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo (25 SV) earned his 33rd win of 2015-16 (and 434th of his career) to move within two of matching his own single-season franchise record (35-30-9 in 2005-06) and three of tying Jacques Plante (437) for sixth place in NHL history. … Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Lumby, B.C., as the winner of Kraft Hockeyville 2016. The community will host a 2016-17 preseason game between the Kings and Edmonton Oilers… Referee Greg Kimmerly officiated his 1,138th and final NHL regular-season game, working the Red Wings-Maple Leafs game in his hometown of Toronto.

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