Blues clinch Central title with 2-1 victory over Blackhawks
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.
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.