Blues clinch Cen­tral ti­tle with 2-1 victory over Black­hawks

The China Post - - SPORTS -

St. Louis clinched the NHL Cen­tral Di­vi­sion ti­tle and home- ice ad­van­tage in the first round of the Stan­ley Cup play­offs with a 2-1 win over Chicago on Fri­day, while reign­ing cham­pion Los An­ge­les was elim­i­nated from post­sea­son con­tention.

With only one regular sea­son game to play for all but four teams who play their penul­ti­mate game on Fri­day, the Blues moved level with Ana­heim for the West­ern Con­fer­ence lead.

Among other im­por­tant re­sults, Ottawa beat the New York Rangers to strengthen its grip on a play­off spot af­ter an ex­tra­or­di­nary late­sea­son surge, Mon­treal stayed two points clear atop the At­lantic Di­vi­sion by de­feat­ing Detroit, while Min­nesota ex­tended its fran­chis­ere­cord win­ning streak on the road to 12 games with victory at Nashville.

St. Louis’ Paul Stastny scored the win­ner and Dmitrij Jaskin broke a 16-game score­less string as the Blues beat Chicago 2-1.

Jake Allen made 21 saves as the Blues se­cured only their third di­vi­sion ti­tle in 28 years.

An­drew Shaw scored for the Black­hawks, who have lost three in a row and will start the play­offs on the road, as they are as­sured of third in the di­vi­sion.

Ottawa con­tin­ued its daz­zling play­off push with a 3-0 victory at the New York Rangers, with Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Tur­ris scor­ing in a 1:04 span late in the sec­ond pe­riod.

Goal­tender An­drew Ham­mond had 26 saves for his third shutout as the Sen­a­tors im­proved to 22-4-4 since Feb. 10. They have 97 points in the wild five-team race for the fi­nal four play­off spots in the Eastern Con­fer­ence, and will make the post­sea­son if they win in Philadel­phia on Satur­day.

Ham­mond has been the dif­fer­ence for Ottawa. The 27-year-old is 19-1-2 since tak­ing over as the start­ing goal­tender on Feb. 8.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored into an empty net with 1:39 to play.

Mon­treal’s Lars Eller scored 1:21 into over­time to lift the Cana­di­ens to a 4-3 victory over Detroit.

Goalie Carey Price set a team record with his 43rd win of the sea­son while An­drei Markov, Jeff Petry and To­mas Plekanec also scored for the Cana­di­ens, who stayed two points ahead of Tampa Bay in the race for the At­lantic ti­tle. The Habs can clinch the ti­tle with a point from the fi­nal game at Toronto.

To­mas Tatar, Pavel Dat­syuk and Dar­ren Helm scored in reg­u­la­tion for the Red Wings (42-25-14), who reached the post­sea­son for a 24th con­sec­u­tive sea­son de­spite the de­feat. Detroit qual­i­fied by earn­ing a point while Bos­ton lost to Florida.

Nashville’s road streak reached a dozen with a 4-2 win at Nashville.

Ja­son Pom­inville scored with 2: 03 re­main­ing, Ja­son Zucker scored twice and Marco Scan­della had the other goal for the Wild who won de­spite rest­ing their firstchoice goalie and three top scor­ers.

Filip Fors­berg and Seth Jones had the goals for Nashville, which has lost five in a row, and now can­not catch St. Louis for the Cen­tral ti­tle.

Cal­gary’s Jiri Hudler scored twice as the Flames clinched a play­off berth for the first time in six years with a 3-1 win over Los An­ge­les that elim­i­nated the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Kings from post­sea­son con­tention.

Johnny Gau­dreau also scored for the Flames, who will play Van­cou­ver in the open­ing round of the play­offs.

Los An­ge­les won two of the pre­vi­ous three Stan­ley Cups, but strug­gled this sea­son to keep pace in the Pa­cific Di­vi­sion.

Win­nipeg clinched its first play­off spot in eight sea­sons by tak­ing a point from a 1-0 shootout loss against Colorado.

Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duch­ene scored in the shootout, and Reto Berra stopped both Win­nipeg shots. Berra fin­ished with a sea­son-high 41 saves for the Jets, who last made the post­sea­son in 2006-07, when the team was the At­lanta Thrash­ers. They re­lo­cated to Win­nipeg in 2011-12.

Florida put a dent in Bos­ton’s play­off hopes by win­ning 4-2, with goalie Roberto Luongo earn­ing his 401st ca­reer win and Jaromir Jagr get­ting his 1,800th ca­reer point.

Tampa Bay kept alive its chances of win­ning the At­lantic by beat­ing New Jer­sey 4-3 in over­time, with Tyler John­son scored his sec­ond goal of the game 1:22 into the ex­tra ses­sion.

Carolina’s Brent Belle­more and Ryan Mur­phy each scored a goal to lead the Hur­ri­canes to a 3-1 win at Philadel­phia.

Van­cou­ver’s Yan­nick We­ber scored twice to lead the Canucks to a 5-0 thrash­ing of Ari­zona.

San Jose’s Bryan Lerg scored in his NHL de­but as the Sharks won 3-1 at Ed­mon­ton in a game be­tween two teams out of the play­off pic­ture.

AP

Win­nipeg Jets fans gather at the in­ter­sec­tion of Portage Av­enue and Main Street in Win­nipeg, Man­i­toba on Thurs­day, April 9, to cel­e­brate the Jets clinch­ing an NHL play­off spot.

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