Flyers earn final playoff spot, Crosby nets 50th
While the rest of the NHL wrapped up the regular season, the
Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers got a jump start on the
Sidney Crosby put on a show of his own Sunday and nearly skated
off with another scoring title. He settled for a share of his first
For Philadelphia, the season will continue through at least one
playoff round. The Rangers are done. A late-season surge fell a
Both the Flyers and Rangers faced the same Game 7 reality on
Sunday in Game 82 of the season. Win and you’re in. Lose and go
home. Henrik Lundqvist starred for New York by making 46 saves
through overtime, but he was beaten twice in the shootout and took
a 2-1 loss.
“Both teams had to go through it, they are not going to whine
about it. That’s how it is,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said.
“When we got to that point we thought we had the advantage. No
disrespect to their shooters, but with Henrik there we felt
Philadelphia clinched the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference
and became the NHL’s last participant to qualify for the playoffs.
The Flyers went from early season Stanley Cup contenders to nearly
missing the postseason. Now they will face the second-seeded New
Jersey Devils in the opening round and will try to live up to
“Hopefully, we can do something with our lifeline here and use
the excitement and euphoria from this win and from our last little
stretch of games here to propel us and do good things here in the
playoffs,” Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said.
That brings us to Sid the Kid, who closed the regular season in
One night after the Pittsburgh Penguins’ disappointing 1-0 loss
at Atlanta wrecked the defending Stanley Cup champions’ bid for the
Atlantic Division title, Crosby gave them something to celebrate.
The 22-year-old captain hit the 50-goal milestone for the first
time in his already brilliant five-year NHL career.
Crosby didn’t stop there. His second goal against the Islanders,
scored 55 seconds into the middle period, gave him a league-best 51
goals and his first Maurice Richard Trophy. He is the co-winner
with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, whose empty-netter in the closing
seconds Sunday of the Lightning’s 3-1 win over Florida was his 51st
“That’s probably the fastest I’ve skated all year,” said the
20-year-old Stamkos, who finished his second NHL season. “After
all the posts I’ve had, sometimes you get one like that. It’s nice
either way. I’ll take it. I guess it was meant to be, to get that
one in the empty net.”
Word reached Crosby on the Penguins bench that Stamkos got even.
Pittsburgh was leading 5-4 with about 10 minutes left in
regulation, but couldn’t get Crosby another goal.
It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” Crosby said when asked if he was pushing
to score again. “There is nothing wrong with scoring a goal. There
is nothing wrong with wanting to do that. I was trying not to cheat
out there. The main thing was we were up 5-4 at the time. We were
trying to get that goal. It wasn’t like we were up 5-2.”
Crosby passed Stamkos – at least momentarily – and two-time
defending league MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, who
both began the day with 50 goals. Crosby had two goals and three
assists in Pittsburgh’s 6-5 overtime victory Sunday.
“It’s nice. I put a lot of hard work into it,” Crosby
The fourth-seeded Penguins will start their playoff defense of
the Cup against fifth-seeded Ottawa.
“We know that we’ve got to start right away, not wait a couple
of games to get into it,” Crosby said. “We know what is expected
Ovechkin, the NHL’s top goal scorer the past two seasons, and
Crosby finished tied for second in the overall points race behind
Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin.
Sedin had four assists to regain the lead Saturday night when
the Canucks played their final game and won the Art Ross Trophy
with a franchise-record 112 points – including 83 assists. That
left him three points ahead of Crosby and Ovechkin, who was shut
out in the Capitals’ 4-3 shootout loss to Boston in Sunday’s
Now, Alex the Great can turn his attention to the playoffs,
where the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals will look to make
noise. They were stopped last year by Crosby and the Penguins and
are looking to get to the finals for the first time since 1998.
Washington, which earned an NHL-best 121 points, will open
against Montreal. The Canadiens dropped to the No. 8 seed when
Philadelphia beat the Rangers.
Buffalo, the Northeast Division champion, could have moved up to
the second seed in the East with a win in regulation at New Jersey
on Sunday, but the Sabres lost 2-1 and dropped to No. 3 and into a
first-round matchup against Boston.
Martin Brodeur made 22 saves to earn his 45th win of the season
and secure his fifth William Jennings Trophy as the goalie for the
team that gives up the fewest goals.
Brodeur played in 77 of New Jersey’s 82 games, and the Devils
yielded only 191 goals. Brodeur is tied with Patrick Roy for the
most Jennings Trophy wins since the award was introduced in the
The San Jose Sharks finished first in the West for the second
straight year and will try to turn that into postseason success
that has often eluded them. Last season they captured their first
Presidents’ Trophy, but were knocked out in the first round by No.
8 seed Anaheim.
This time the Sharks will take their chances with eighth-seeded
Colorado. Central Division champion Chicago will take on Nashville
in the 2 vs. 7 series, and the third-seeded Canucks will face the
No. 6 Los Angeles Kings, who are in the playoffs for the first time
Surprising Phoenix, which nearly came out of nowhere to pry the
Pacific title and the top seed away from the Sharks, has the tough
task of taking on No. 5 Detroit. The dangerous Red Wings have been
in the Stanley Cup finals each of the past two years against
Pittsburgh, winning the championship in 2008 and falling in seven
games last June.