Wild beats Bruins to clinch playoff berth
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) — Minnesota clinched a spot in the NHL playoffs by beating Boston 4-3 after a shootout on Monday, with Mikko Koivu scoring in the tiebreaker and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov denying all three Bruins shots.
The result sealed a wild-card spot in the Western Conference on a day the playoff picture became a little clearer.
Washington kept its slim hopes alive by beating slumping St. Louis as Alex Ovechkin netted his 50th goal of the season, Tampa Bay ended Toronto’s postseason chances, and Columbus tied a franchise record for wins in a season when it beat Phoenix.
Minnesota forced overtime when — with Bryzgalov benched for an extra skater — Ryan Suter knocked in the tying goal with just 65 seconds left.
After Bryzgalov stopped Brad Marchand’s attempt to end the shootout, he pumped his arms as he skated out of the crease to celebrate with his teammates. The Wild will be the seventh seed and face the division winner with the fewest points.
Washington beat St. Louis 4-1, with Ovechkin becoming the 11th player in NHL history to score 50 or more goals in a season five times.
Ovechkin, who added two assists, brought up his 50th goal with a one-timer in the first period, reaching the mark for the first time in four years.
Nicklas Backstrom scored twice and Mikhail Grabovski added another goal for the Capitals, who are still on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture looking in with three games remaining.
Maxim Lapierre had the only goal for St. Louis, which has lost a season-worst three straight.
Tampa Bay beat Toronto 3-0, with Ondrej Palat scoring twice and Anders Lindback coming off the bench to make 25 saves.
Tampa Bay’ starting goalie Ben Bishop left in the first period due to an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Victor Hedman had an empty-net goal late in the third for the Lightning, who trail Montreal by two points for second place in the Atlantic Division.
The Maple Leafs have lost 10 of 12 to fall out of playoff contention.
Columbus downed Phoenix 4-3 in overtime, with the winning goal scored by Ryan Johansen, who took a stretch pass from James Wisniewski and scored on a wrist shot.
Blake Comeau, Boone Jenner and Mark Letestu also scored for the Blue Jackets, whose 41st victory matched the most in their 13 seasons.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson sent the game to overtime with a goal with just 14.6 seconds left in regulation, and Martin Erat and Shane Doan also had goals for the Coyotes, who have lost five in a row.
Colorado made it seven wins from eight games by winning 4-1 at Edmonton.
Erik Johnson had a goal and an assist while Paul Stastny, Jamie McGinn and Tyson Barrie also scored for the Avalanche, who have a four-point cushion over Chicago for second place in the Central Division and are two points up on San Jose for third in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche set a team record for road wins with the victory, improving to 25-10-3 away from Denver.
David Perron scored for the Oilers.
The New York Rangers improved their chances for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs by winning 4-1 at home against Carolina, with Brad Richards scoring two power-play goals.
Playoff-chasing Dallas eliminated Nashville from postseason contention by winning 3-2 after a shootout, with Tyler Seguin scoring the decider in the tiebreaker.
Philadelphia clinched a playoff berth by winning 5-2 at Florida, with Claude Giroux scoring twice.
Ottawa won 4-1 at the New York Islanders, with Jason Spezza scoring twice and Ales Hemsky adding an insurance goal.
Detroit inched closer to claiming a playoff berth by winning 4-2 at Buffalo, with Darren Helm scoring the go-ahead goal early in the third period.