Predators beat Capitals 4-3 to wrap up Presidents’ Trophy
WASHINGTON (AP) Craig Smith scored twice and Ryan Johansen had the go-ahead goal late in the third period to help the Nashville Predators beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 Thursday night to clinch first place in the Central Division, the top seed in the Western Conference and the best record in the NHL.
Even though it’ll be Pekka Rinne in net for the Predators when they open the playoffs next week, backup Juuse Saros stopped 28 of the 31 shots and captain Roman Josi scored on the power play to give them their first division title in 19 seasons of existence.
Nashville has a franchise-record 52 victories and will open the playoffs against the second wild card in the West as it tries to return to the Stanley Cup Final. The Predators clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the league’s top record when Boston lost to Florida 3-2 later Thursday. Nashville watched from the arena as the Panthers scored late in the third period to top the Bruins.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice and Alex Ovechkin added his NHL-leading 47th goal of the season for the Metropolitan-champion Capitals, who have nothing left to play for and could still face any of a handful of teams in the first round. Philipp Grubauer made 25 saves and strengthened his case to be Washington’s Game 1 playoff starter over 2016 Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – Daniel Sedin scored on a power play 2:33 into overtime with his brother Henrik Sedin earning an assist in their final home game before retiring after 17 seasons with Vancouver.
The twins were mobbed by teammates after the goal. Fans were on their feet the minute the Sedins went over the boards after Arizona’s Richard Panik was called for hooking. The goal came when Henrik passed back to Daniel, who blasted a shot from the blue line.
After the game, the two brothers slowly skated around the ice at Rogers Arena, waving at the fans.
The brothers had combined for a goal earlier in the game, with Daniel scoring and Henrik assisting again.
DEVILS 2, MAPLE LEAFS 1
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – The New Jersey Devils are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Keith Kinkaid, the mainstay in goal since the end of January, made 31 saves as the Devils won their fourth straight and extended their points streak to eight games (7-0-1). He preserved the lead with a stop in close on Austin Matthews with just over seven minutes to play.
New Jersey is 10-2-1 in its last 13 in going from the worst team in the Eastern Conference a year ago to one that will get a chance to start playing for the Stanley Cup next week. After it was over, the players went to center ice and saluted the fans who were standing for much of the final minute.
William Nylander scored on a power play in the first period for Toronto to ice his second straight 20-goal season. Frederik Anderson was outstanding, making 37 saves, including saves on breakaways by Taylor Hall and Michael Grabner in the big second period.
The loss was only the fourth in 13 games (9-3) for the Maple Leafs.
Brown scored on a sharp-angle shot from the left circle to put the Kings one point ahead of Anaheim in the division. He set a career high with his 61st point.
Matt Dumba scored for the second straight game, and Nate Prosser had a short-handed goal for the Wild, who will play Winnipeg in the first round of the playoffs. Ryan Murphy and Eric Staal each had a goal, and Alex Stalock made 23 saves.
The Flyers seemed in great shape when Giroux put them up 3-2 with 9:42 remaining behind a wrist shot that beat goalie Scott Darling. It extended the Flyers captain’s career-high totals to 31 goals and 98 points. The Hurricanes erased the lead when Brian Elliott let in his second soft goal of the game, this one Jordan Staal’s backhander from a sharp angle near the side boards with 6:19 left.
Elliott returned after missing 25 games following core muscle surgery Feb. 13.
Klas Dahlbeck and Sebastian Aho also scored for Carolina.
The Panthers trail Philadelphia by four points for the final Eastern Conference wild card and have two games remaining, including a matchup Sunday night with Boston. Florida needs to win both games and have the Flyers lose to the New York Rangers in regulation Saturday.
The 39-year-old Luongo became the third goalie to reach the 1,000-game mark, joining Hall of Famers Martin Brodeur (1,266) and Patrick Roy (1,029). He stopped 26 shots Thursday.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Phil Kessel scored 1:06 into overtime for Pittsburgh, and Columbus earned a point to clinch a playoff spot for the second consecutive season.
Kessel scored for the left circle for his second goal of the game and 33rd of the season. Conor Sheary tied it at 12:16 in the third period.
Hellebuyck has 43 victories to match the mark set by former Pittsburgh star Tom Barrasso in 1992-93.
Blake Wheeler scored his 23rd goal for his 90th point of the season, and Paul Stastny added a goal to help Winnipeg improve to 10-1-0 in its past 11 and 51-20-10 overall. Rookie Spencer Foo scored his first NHL goal in his third game for the Flames.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Logan Couture scored his NHL-leading 16th go-ahead goal six minutes into the third period and San Jose improved its chances for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Justin Braun, Tomas Hertl and Joonas Donskoi also scored for the Sharks, who snapped a four-game losing streak and kept their one-point lead over the Anaheim Ducks for second-place in the Pacific Division.
ISLANDERS 2, RANGERS 1
Jaroslav Halak stopped 34 shots as the Islanders won for the 11th time in the past 12 meetings with the Rangers. They swept the four-game season series for the second time in the past three seasons, after never previously doing it since joining the NHL in 1972.
The Islanders are also 6-0-0 at home against the Rangers since moving to Barclays Center in 2015.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Benning, Mike Cammalleri and Ty Rattie scored for the Oilers. They snapped a five-game losing skid. Brayden McNabb, Brandon Pirri and Oscar Lindberg replied for the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights. They had won three in a row.
The Original Six teams are out of the playoff race, finishing up the season playing only for pride.
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Edmonton Oilers
- Florida Panthers
- Los Angeles Kings
- Nashville Predators
- New Jersey Devils
- New York Islanders
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- San Jose Sharks
- Vancouver Canucks
- Washington Capitals
- Winnipeg Jets