The New Jersey Devils will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
Mathieu Darche scored twice, Carey Price made 20 saves and the Montreal Canadiens ended the Devils’ run of making the last 13 playoffs with a 3-1 victory last night in Newark.
P.K. Subban also scored and former Devils star Brian Gionta set up both of Darche’s goals as the Canadiens inched closer to clinching a playoff berth with their second win in six games.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Devils with 5:59 to play, preventing Price from posting his ninth shutout of the season.
This will mark only the third time in the last 23 seasons that the Devils have missed the playoffs, and this one can be attributed to a dismal start under rookie coach John MacLean that forced general manager Lou Lamoriello to bring Jacques Lemaire out of retirement.
The team responded in early January and posted a 23-3-2 mark to pull within 6 points of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Capitals 5, Sabres 4 — Alex Ovechkin scored the winner 3:19 into overtime, and host Washington beat visiting Buffalo to take over the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Ovechkin took a shot from the left circle that glanced off the skate of Buffalo defenseman Andrej Sekera and past goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
Maple Leafs 4, Senators 2 — Tyler Bozak had a power-play goal 5:42 into the third and Nikolai Kulemin scored late in the period as Toronto preserved its slim playoff hopes with a win in Ottawa.
Phil Kessel reached 30 goals for a third year in a row and Nazem Kadri also scored for Toronto, which moved into a tie with Carolina for ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 84 points. The Maple Leafs, who have three games left, closed to 3 points behind the Rangers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Penguins 4, Panthers 2 — Defenseman Zbynek Michalek scored with 7:49 left and visiting Pittsburgh handed Florida its eighth consecutive loss.
Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis also scored for the Penguins, who solidified their hold on fourth place in the East. Jordan Staal had three assists, and Craig Adams scored an empty-net goal with 1:30 remaining.
Red Wings 4, Predators 3 — Daniel Cleary tipped in Brian Rafalski’s shot 2:58 into overtime for Detroit’s fourth unanswered goal, leading it to victory in Nashville.
Justin Abdelkader had two goals, and Jakub Kindl also scored as Detroit improved to 2-3-2 in its last seven games. Rafalski finished with two assists and goalie Jimmy Howard stopped 31 shots.
Hurricanes 4, Islanders 2 — Erik Cole snapped a tie 6:04 into the third period for Carolina, which beat host New York to move within 1 point of eighth in the East.
The Hurricanes have won seven of 10 and have four games left.
Oilers 4, Canucks 1 — Kurtis Foster and Jordan Eberle scored power-play goals just over six minutes apart, Devan Dubnyk made 40 saves, and Edmonton beat host Vancouver.
Linus Omark and Magnus Paajarvi also scored as the last-place Oilers snapped an 11-game losing streak (0-8-3) by handing the NHL-leading Canucks their first loss in six games.
Sharks 4, Ducks 2 — Devin Setoguchi scored the tiebreaking goal on the power play with 5:21 remaining and host San Jose rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat Anaheim.
Kings 3, Stars 1 — Matt Greene scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and Los Angeles moved within a win of a playoff berth by defeating visiting Dallas.
Lightning 3, Wild 1 — Dwayne Roloson stopped 29 shots against his former team and visiting Tampa Bay won its fourth straight.