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Ducks hold off Islanders, clinch playoff berth

March 29, 2015

UNIONDALE, New York (AP) — Frederik Andersen made 29 saves, and the Anaheim Ducks used a two-goal second period to beat the struggling New York Islanders 3-2 in the NHL on Saturday to clinch a Western Conference playoff berth.

Rickard Rakell gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead in the first, and Kyle Palmieri and Andrew Cogliano stretched the advantage in the second for Anaheim, which leads the NHL with 103 points. Anaheim secured its postseason spot minutes after Nashville became the first team in the West to secure a berth.

Lubomir Visnovsky scored a first-period goal, Casey Cizikas cut the deficit to 3-2 with 5:36 left, and Michal Neuvirth stopped 21 shots but fell to 1-5 with the Islanders since being acquired from Buffalo.

The Ducks controlled play for much of the first, but despite the Islanders’ latest slow start, Anaheim had only a 1-1 tie to show for its effort.

Patrick Maroon was originally credited with the first goal at 8:23 after a centering pass by Rakell bounded into the net off the stick of Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy.

The Islanders regrouped and tied it with 2:52 left in the first when Visnovsky’s drive from the left point caromed past Andersen after it hit the skate of Ducks defenseman Simon Despres.

Anaheim took over in the second, scoring twice on just seven shots and killing all four New York power plays, including a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted for 1:54.

Filip Forsberg scored during a three-goal first period and had two assists as the Nashville Predators became the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff berth with a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals.

Mattias Ekholm, Mike Fisher and Forsberg scored during a 5-minute span midway through the first period for a 3-0 lead. Mike Ribeiro added a goal with an assist by Forsberg after Washington’s Troy Brouwer scored twice earlier in the second period.

The Predators have won four straight after losing nine of 11.

Washington holds the East’s top wild-card spot, five points ahead of Ottawa and Boston, who were tied for the second and final spot.

At Pittsburgh, Daniel Winnik, Steve Downie and Sidney Crosby scored in a 4-minute, 8-second stretch of the third period to rally the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

Crosby’s 25th goal stood as the game-winner and he also had two assists to increase his league-leading scoring total to 78 points. Thomas Greiss stopped 22 shots against his former team to help the Penguins end a two-game skid overall, and a three-game winless stretch at home.

Max Pacioretty scored in overtime as the Montreal Canadiens clinched a playoff berth with a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk scored in regulation for the Canadiens, and Carey Price stopped 21 shots.

Also Saturday, Milan Lucic scored twice in the first 10 minutes to lead the Boston Bruins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers and Petr Mrazek made 23 saves for his fourth career shutout, and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0.

Matt Irwin and Joe Pavelski scored in regulation, and Brent Burns got the winning goal in the shootout to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

In other games, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, the Colorado Avalanche kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3.

The Minnesota Wild thrashed the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 and John Klingberg scored in overtime as the Dallas Stars edged the Vancouver Canucks 4-3.

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