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Blackhawks clinch playoffs for eighth straight season

NHL News and Notes

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BLACKHAWKS CLINCH POSTSEASON BERTH 
Andrew Ladd scored the game-winning goal with 2:27 remaining in regulation to help the Blackhawks clinch a berth in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, their eighth consecutive postseason appearance. 

* At 44-25-7 (95 points), the Blackhawks moved within four points of the idle St. Louis Blues (45-22-9, 99 points) for second place in the Central Division.

TWO METROPOLITAN TEAMS WIN 
The Pittsburgh Penguins (42-25-8, 92 points) and Carolina Hurricanes (33-28-15, 81 points) each won, helping their pursuit of a playoff spot: 

Video: PIT@NYR: Crosby tips in game-winning goal in OT

* Sidney Crosby scored his first overtime goal of the season with 29.5 seconds left to help the Penguins to their fifth consecutive road win. Crosby has at least one point in 14 of his past 15 games (7-15-22) and ranks third in the NHL with 32-46-78 this season (74 GP). The Penguins moved within three points of the New York Rangers (43-24-9, 95 points) for second place in the Metropolitan Division. 

* Victor Rask (2-0-2) had his second multi-goal game of the season (also Feb. 13 vs. NYI: 2-0-2) to help the Hurricanes climb within four points of the idle Philadelphia Flyers (36-25-13, 85 points) for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Rask (20-25-45) has scored in a career-high three straight games (4-0-4) and reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career. 

Video: NJD@CAR: Rask's two goals lead Canes to win

SUNDAY'S RESULTS 
Home Team in Caps 
CAROLINA 3, New Jersey 2 
Pittsburgh 3, NY RANGERS 2 (OT) 
Chicago 3, VANCOUVER 2 

LOOSE PUCKS 
Crosby moved into a share of second place in the NHL with eight game-winning goals this season... Penguins forward Phil Kessel (1-1-2) has 2-5-7 in his last two games... Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (25 saves) improved to 7-1-0 in his last eight appearances... Rangers forward Eric Staal (2-0-2) had his second multi-goal game of the season (also Dec. 29 at NJD: 2-0-2 w/ CAR), including a one-handed redirection early in the first period... Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane had one assist and leads the NHL with 39 goals, 55 assists and 94 points (76 GP).

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