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Panthers clinch playoff berth; Blues, Blackhawks gain

NHL News and Notes @NHLdotcom

The idle Florida Panthers (44-25-9, 97 points) clinched a berth in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs by virtue of a Chicago Blackhawks victory, their fifth postseason appearance in franchise history and first since 2011-12.

The St. Louis Blues (47-23-9, 103 points) and Blackhawks (46-26-7, 99 points) each won to inch closer to the Dallas Stars (48-23-9, 105 points) - who lost in regulation - for the top record in the Central Division and Western Conference.

David Backes Troy Brouwer  and Alex Pietrangelo  each had a goal and an assist to help the Blues pick up their sixth win in the past seven games (6-1-0), including four straight as visitors. At 47-23-9 (103 points), the Blues climbed within two points of the Stars for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference.

* The Blackhawks opened the scoring with six consecutive goals, including three by Patrick Kane  (3-1-4), and held off a four-goal Bruins rally to pick up their fourth win in their last five games(4-1-0). Kane had his second career regular-season hat trick (also Jan. 15 at TOR: 3-1-4) and added an assist to reach the 100-point mark for the first time in his NHL career (43-57-100). Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Kane - who leads the NHL in points - became the first Blackhawks player to reach the 100-point mark in a season since Jeremy Roenick (46-61-107) in 1993-94. At 46-26-7 (99 points), the Blackhawks remained four points back of the Blues for second place in the Central Division.

Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin  (1-3-4) had his second consecutive four-point game (also April 1 at WPG: 2-2-4) and continues to lead all rookies in goals (28), assists (44), points (72) and game-winning goals (seven) this season.

* Panarin became the first rookie in Blackhawks history rookie to record consecutive four-point games and the first on any team since Nicklas Backstrom  (WSH) in 2007-08 (Jan. 19 vs. FLA: 0-4-4 and Jan. 21 at PIT: 0-4-4).

* Panarin became the first Blackhawks player to have consecutive four-point games since Jeremy Roenick in 1991-92 (Dec. 7 at NYI: 4-0-4 and Dec. 8 vs. MNS: 2-2-4).

* With 28 goals in 2015-16, Panarin is tied for the fourth-most in a single season by a rookie in Blackhawks history.

* Matthew Murray  made 28 saves and Eric Fehr  (2-0-2) scored twice to help the Penguins improve to 12-1-0 in their last 13 games, including a six-game winning streak. Murray picked up his fifth consecutive victory and improved to 7-2-1 overall (1.88 GAA, .933 SV%, 1 SO). Fehr had his first multi-goal game of 2015-16, including his team-leading fourth shorthanded goal of the season. At 46-25-8 (100 points), the Penguins increased their lead to five points over the idle New York Rangers (43-26-9, 95 points) for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

* Nate Thompson  and Ryan Kesler  (1-1-2) each scored shorthanded goals, the latter 10 seconds into the third period, to lead the Ducks to their fourth win in their last five games (4-1-0). John Gibson  (24 saves) improved to 4-2-0 in his last six appearances and 20-12-3 overall (2.04 GAA, .920 SV%, 4 SO). At 44-24-10 (98 points), the Ducks leapfrogged the idle Los Angeles Kings (46-27-5, 97 points) for first place in the Pacific Division.

Ondrej Pavelec  turned aside 28 of 29 shots and five different skaters found the back of the net to help the Jets improve to 6-1-0 in their last seven games vs. MIN dating to Feb. 10, 2015 (MIN: 1-5-1), including three straight wins. Pavelec extended his personal point streak to five games (3-0-2).

* Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville earned his 800th career regular-season win and became the second head coach in NHL history to reach the milestone (Scotty Bowman: 1,244).

* Ducks forward Corey Perry  became the second player in franchise history to play in 800 career games with the team (Teemu Selanne: 966).

* Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano  became the second player in NHL history to start his career with 700 consecutive games played (Doug Jarvis: 964).

* Flyers forward Jakub Voracek  scored playing in the 600th game of his NHL career.

* Jets forward Blake Wheeler  (1-0-1) extended his point streak to eight games (5-6-11), matching his career high from Oct. 8-25, 2015 (4-7-11).

* Jets forward Mark Scheifele  (1-0-1) extended his point streak to seven games (4-6-10).

* Penguins captain Sidney Crosby  (1-0-1) extended his point streak to six games (2-4-6) and ranks third in the NHL with 33-49-82 this season, including at least one point in 18 of his last 19 games (8-18-26). Teammate Kris Letang  (0-2-2) also extended his point streak to six games (2-7-9).

* Blues forwards Vladimir Tarasenko  (2-4-6) and Paul Stastny  (1-7-8) each extended their point streaks to five games.

* Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist  (1-0-1) has scored in three consecutive games (3-0-3).

* Penguins forward Phil Kessel  (0-1-1) has 5-6-11 in his last six games.

The Penguins improved to 38-0-0 when leading after two periods this season, the only team without a loss of any kind in that situation... Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling  established a regular-season career high with 42 saves and improved to 4-1-0 in his last five appearances... Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron  (2-1-3) had his seventh multi-goal and second three-point game of the season. With 32 goals in 2015-16, Bergeron (32-35-67) eclipsed his single-season career high of 31 from 2005-06... Avalanche forward Matt Duchene  (30-27-57) scored to reach the 30-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career... Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds  scored his 29th goal of 2015-16, equaling his single-season career high from 2013-14... Blackhawks forward Artem Anisimov  (20-22-42) had 1-2-3, his second three-point game of the season (also Feb. 6 at DAL: 1-3-4), and reached the 20-goal mark for the second time in his NHL career (also 2013-14 w/ CBJ)... Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri  will have a hearing Monday with the NHL Department of Player Safety for an incident with Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening  during a game at Air Canada Centre on Saturday... Linesman Brad Lazarowich worked his 1,971st and final NHL regular-season game (MIN-WPG) in the same city where he worked his first game on Oct. 9, 1986 (BUF-WIN)... Linesman Andy McElman, a native of Chicago Heights, Ill., was honored in a pre-game ceremony at United Center ahead of his 1,500th and final NHL regular-season game (BOS-CHI).

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