Montreal lands 8th; Sharks take home ice
Maxime Talbot and Kris Letang scored shorthanded goals 55 seconds apart midway through the third period to send the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Canadiens last night in Montreal.
By finishing in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Canadiens will open the playoffs Thursday night against the Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden, a rematch of last year's opening-round series.
The Penguins, currently fifth in the East, will face Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs, with home-ice advantage to be determined today when the Flyers host the Rangers. The teams are tied with 99 points, but Pittsburgh owns the tiebreaker because it has one more victory.
"We probably never would have thought there's a chance of getting home ice," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "Now that we've given ourselves a chance, we've got to scoreboard-watch."
Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin claimed his first scoring title, increasing his point total to 113 with his 35th goal 1:09 into the game. He finished 3 points ahead of Washington's Alex Ovechkin.
"It's my third year playing in the NHL and I understand how to play here," a beaming Malkin said after the game. "My English is a little bit better and my game is better."
This is also the 13th time since 1988 that a Penguins player has won the Art Ross, with Mario Lemieux claiming the trophy six times, Jaromir Jagr five times, and Crosby once before Malkin this season.
Talbot finished off a 2-on-1 with Pascal Dupuis 9:46 into the third to put Pittsburgh up, 3-1. Letang had beaten Carey Price with a slap shot from the left side at 10:41 with one second remaining in a penalty to Brooks Orpik.
Malkin beat Price from the edge of the crease when he put a rebound of Sergei Gonchar's shot through the goalie's legs before he could clear the puck.
Roman Hamrlik drew Montreal even with his sixth goal at 17:29 of the first when his shot from the left point evaded Marc-Andre Fleury.
Kings 4, Sharks 3 - Wayne Simmonds had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Quick made 27 saves as host Los Angeles beat San Jose, which still clinched the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs for finishing with the top record in the league.
Michal Handzus, Alexander Frolov, and Peter Harold also scored for the Kings. Devin Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski, and Patrick Marleau had goals for the Sharks, who are stumbling into the postseason. They also lost, 4-1, at home against Phoenix Thursday and needed a shootout to beat last-place Colorado, 1-0, Tuesday.
Quick, a rookie from Milford, Conn., who played at the University of Massachusetts, was especially sharp over the final weeks. He posted a .938 save percentage in the last 10 games.
Canucks 1, Avalanche 0 - At Denver, Henrik Sedin scored 40 seconds into overtime and Vancouver clinched the Northwest Division title by blanking Colorado.
The Canucks also locked up the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs and will take a three-game winning streak into the postseason.
Roberto Luongo stopped 22 shots for his second straight shutout.
Sedin scored by banking in a shot off the skate of Colorado defenseman Scott Hannan. It was his 22d goal of the season.
Blackhawks 4, Red Wings 2 - Dustin Byfuglien scored on a penalty shot with 28 seconds left, breaking a tie and lifting Chicago to a road win over Detroit in the first game of a season-ending home-and-home series.
Byfuglien was hooked by Niklas Kronwall on a partial breakaway and was awarded the penalty shot. He beat Ty Conklin with a high shot for his 15th goal. Andrew Ladd added an empty-netter with 10 seconds remaining.
Devils 3, Hurricanes 2 - Dainius Zubrus scored the winner with 4:26 to play and host New Jersey got two other goals on gift-wrapped bounces in a preview of a first-round playoff series.
The Devils are the third seed, and Carolina is locked into sixth.
Coyotes 5, Ducks 4 - Viktor Tikhonov scored in the fourth round of the shootout as Phoenix beat visiting Anaheim, which still managed to move one point ahead of St. Louis for seventh place in the Western Conference.
Panthers 7, Capitals 4 - David Booth had two goals and three assists for host Florida, while Ovechkin had his NHL-best 56th goal.
The Capitals, seeded second in the East, open the playoffs Wednesday against the Rangers.
Flames 4, Oilers 1 - Mike Cammalleri scored two goals and added an assist and Curtis McElhinney made 35 saves for his first NHL victory in 10 tries as Calgary beat visiting Edmonton.
Flyers 3, Islanders 2 - Martin Biron stopped 30 shots and Simon Gagne, Joffrey Lupul, and Mike Knuble potted goals for visiting Philadelphia.
Maple Leafs 5, Senators 2 - Martin Gerber made 37 saves against his former team, helping host Toronto close out the season with a win.
Wild 6, Blue Jackets 3 - Marian Gaborik had two goals as Minnesota rallied from an early 2-0 deficit in Columbus, Ohio.
Thrashers 6, Lightning 2 - Host Atlanta broke a three-game skid as Colby Armstrong potted a pair of goals.