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Sports >  NHL

NHL capsules: Penguins earn 12th straight playoff berth; Vegas clinches Pacific Division

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Patric Hornqvist  celebrates his goal with Evgeni Malkin (71) in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens in Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 31, 2018. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Patric Hornqvist celebrates his goal with Evgeni Malkin (71) in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens in Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 31, 2018. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)
Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ quest for a three-peat is officially on.

Patric Hornqvist picked up his 200th career goal and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions clinched their 12th straight playoff berth with a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Phil Kessel, Riley Sheahan, Conor Sheary and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh, which dominated the largely listless Canadiens to improve to 17-1-1 in their last 19 games at PPG Paints Arena. Matt Murray finished with 24 saves for the Penguins, who swept their season series with Montreal for only the second time in franchise history.

Jeff Petry and Jonathan Droui scored for the Canadiens, who lost for the fifth time in seven games. Antti Niemi made 28 stops but Montreal couldn’t handle the league’s top-ranked power play.

Golden Knights 3, Sharks 2: William Karlsson scored a short-handed goal in the third period, and expansion Vegas clinched the Pacific Division title with a win over San Jose at Las Vegas.

Vegas (50-22-7) reached 50 wins in its inaugural season. San Jose (44-25-10) is second in the Pacific, four points ahead of Los Angeles.

Shea Theodore and Oscar Lindberg also scored for the Golden Knights, and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots. Fleury improved to 29-12-4 this season and moved into sole possession of 11th place on the career wins list with 404 victories.

Bruins 5, Panthers 1: Jake DeBrusk scored twice in his first game in more than two weeks, and Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots to help Boston defeat visiting Florida and move back into first place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

David Krejci had three assists and rookie Ryan Donato had a goal and an assist for Boston, which has won four of its last five games. The Bruins have earned a point in eight straight games and 15 of their last 17.

Jamie McGinn scored for Florida, which remains three points behind New Jersey in the race for the eighth playoff spot in the East. James Reimer stopped 17 of the 22 shots he faced before he was replaced by Roberto Luongo with 3:28 left in the second period, trailing 5-1.

Luongo, the losing goalie for Vancouver in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run, stopped all 11 shots the rest of the way.

Canucks 5, Blue Jackets 4 (OT): Alex Edler scored 1:21 into overtime and Vancouver defeated Columbus in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canucks matched their season-high with their fourth straight win.

Jussi Jokinen had a goal and two assists against his former team, and Darren Archibald, Bo Horvat and Nikolay Goldobin also scored for the Canucks, who have won five of six after a seven-game skid. Thatcher Demko stopped 26 shots in his first NHL start.

Jets 3, Maple Leafs 1: Josh Morrissey and Dustin Byfuglien scored 1:10 apart in the second period as visiting Winnipeg beat Toronto in a matchup of the only two Canadian teams headed to the playoffs.

Andrew Copp had the other goal for Winnipeg, while Connor Hellebuyck stopped 28 shots.

Patrick Marleau scored for Toronto, and Curtis McElhinney had 26 saves.

The Maple Leafs, who won 7-2 in Winnipeg to open the season on Oct. 4, are all but assured of finishing third in the Atlantic Division. The Jets, meanwhile, look just as certain to wind up second in the Central.

Sabres 7, Predators 4: Sam Reinhart had a hat trick with Jack Eichel adding a career-high five assists as NHL-worst Buffalo stunned the league-leading Predators in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Sabres outshot Nashville from the start and chased goalie Pekka Rinne after he gave up six goals on 29 shots through two periods.

Kyle Okposo had two goals, and Jason Pominville and Ryan O’Reilly also scored for Buffalo, and Eichel tied a franchise single-game record with his assists.

P.K. Subban, Austin Watson, Kyle Turris and Nick Boniono scored for Nashville.

Rangers 2, Hurricanes 1: Ryan Sproul scored and Kevin Hayes added a short-handed goal to help New York defeat Carolina in Raleigh, North Carolina. The loss eliminated Carolina from the playoff race.

Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves for the Rangers, who entered having lost three straight and six of seven – going 1-4-2 in that stretch – and were formally knocked out of the postseason chase earlier in the week.

Jeff Skinner scored and Cam Ward made 18 saves for the Hurricanes, whose longshot playoff hopes were snuffed out and will miss out for the ninth straight year – the longest active postseason drought in the NHL. For the third consecutive season, their official elimination came in their 79th game.

Devils 4, Islanders 3: Taylor Hall scored twice and New Jersey took a major step toward its first playoff berth since 2012, defeating New York in Newark, New Jersey.

Coupled with Florida’s 5-1 loss to Boston earlier in the day, the Devils opened a five-point lead over the Panthers for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference and moved within a point of idle Philadelphia for the top wild card. Both teams have four games left in the regular season, one fewer than Florida.

Stefan Noesen and Blake Coleman each had a goal and assist as the Devils won for the seventh time in 10 games (7-2-1). Keith Kinkaid, who has started nine of 10 games and been the mainstay in net since late January, had 27 saves, including a stop on a one-timer by Ryan Pulock with 14 seconds to play.

Tanner Fritz, Anthony Beauvillier and Chris Wagner scored for the Islanders, who have lost 16 of their last 19 (3-12-4). Thomas Greiss made 31 saves in his first game since Feb. 16, when he sustained an ankle injury and went on injured reserve.

Coyotes 6, Blues 0: Antti Raanta stopped 34 shots for his third shutout of the season and Arizona scored three goals in the second period to beat playoff-chasing St. Louis in Glendale, Arizona.

Four of the Coyotes’ goals came from defensemen, including Luke Schenn, who scored his first goal in his 61st game of the season. Schenn also energized a large crowd and his teammates with a powerful check of Blues forward Scottie Upshall early in the second period.

Richard Panik added a goal just before the hit, and 28-win Arizona won its 10th this month.

The Blues entered 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, but ended the night tied with Colorado for the second wild-card spot in the West at 92 points through 78 games.

Red Wings 2, Senators 0: Jimmy Howard stopped 31 shots for his first shutout of the season, leading Detroit to its third straight win, a victory over visiting Ottawa.

Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou scored to help the Red Wings get their their longest winning streak since a season-high four-game stretch Dec. 29 to Jan. 5.

It was Howard’s 24th career shutout and marked the ninth time Ottawa was blanked this season.

Mike Condon finished with 25 saves for the Senators.

Flames 3, Oilers 2: Dougie Hamilton started Calgary’s three-goal first period and the Flames beat Edmonton in Calgary, Alberta.

Mikael Backlund had a goal and an assist and Garnet Hathaway also scored to help Calgary snap a seven-game skid. Michael Frolik added two assists and Mike Smith stopped 34 shots.

Stars 4, Wild 1: John Klingberg scored a goal while adding to his NHL-leading assist total for defensemen and the Stars beat Minnesota in Dallas.

Jason Spezza scored a goal for the first time since Jan. 16 as the Stars, playing their home finale, won for just the second time in 11 games – a slide that wiped out any realistic hopes of making the playoffs.

The Wild, still holding the third playoff spot in the Central Division with four games remaining, lost the second of a home-and-home set two nights after beating the Stars 5-2 in Minnesota. Their season-best seven-game point streak ended.

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