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Pens close in on playoff berth

PITTSBURGH — Phil Kessel scored twice and the surging Penguins moved within striking distance of a 10th straight playoff berth with a 5-2 win over the Predators on Thursday night.

Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, which improved to 10-1-0 in its past 11 games. The Penguins will clinch a spot in the postseason if the Red Wings lose in regulation tonight against the Wild. The win, coupled with the Rangers' loss to the Hurricanes, moved them into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 shots to reach 35 wins for the seventh time. He is the fourth goalie in NHL history to have seven 35-win seasons.

James Neal and Ryan Johansen each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who failed for a third straight game to wrap up a playoff bid. Pekka Rinne stopped 25 shots before sitting out the third period in favor of backup Carter Hutton.

The Penguins improved to an NHL-best 12-4-0 in March.

Game highlights: Victor Rask scored the go-ahead goal with 10:54 left and the host Hurricanes rallied to beat the Rangers 4-3 in former captain Eric Staal's return to his old home arena. The loss dropped the Rangers from second to third in the Metropolitan Division. Carolina has earned points in 12 of 14 games since the Feb. 29 trade deadline, the day after it sent Staal to the Rangers. … John Tavares scored twice and Anders Lee got a power-play goal 5:23 into the third period to lift the host Islanders over the Blue Jackets 4-3. The Islanders have won three straight to get to 93 points and have solidified their grip on the first Eastern Conference wild card berth. … The Sabres extended their home dominance over the Maple Leafs with a 4-1 victory. The Sabres improved to 17-1-1 in their past 19 home games against Toronto in a run that dates to Feb. 4, 2009.

at Penguins 1 3 1 5
Predators 1 1 0 2

First Period1, Pittsburgh, Kessel 24 (Schultz, Bonino), 3:06. 2, Nashville, Johansen 14 (Neal, Forsberg), 19:00. PenaltiesHagelin, Pit (tripping), 6:25; Ekholm, Nas (hooking), 16:10.

Second Period3, Pittsburgh, Kessel 25 (Daley, Sundqvist), 2:29. 4, Pittsburgh, Letang 16 (Kunitz, Crosby), 10:57 (pp). 5, Nashville, Neal 31 (Ekholm, Johansen), 14:24. 6, Pittsburgh, Hornqvist 19 (Daley, Letang), 18:24 (pp). PenaltiesGranberg, Nas (holding), 9:24; Sheary, Pit (tripping), 12:17; Arvidsson, Nas (holding), 17:35.

Third Period7, Pittsburgh, Bonino 8 (Hagelin, Cole), 15:49. PenaltiesJarnkrok, Nas (roughing), :26; Kunitz, Pit, served by Sheary, double minor (roughing), :26; Sissons, Nas (slashing), 9:35; Crosby, Pit (goaltender interference), 9:47. Shots on GoalNashville 11-6-7—24. Pittsburgh 14-15-12—41. Power-play opportunitiesNashville 0 of 4; Pittsburgh 2 of 4. GoaliesNashville, Rinne 32-21-10 (29 shots-25 saves), Hutton (0:00 third, 12-11). Pittsburgh, Fleury 35-17-6 (24-22).

at Sabres 2 1 1 4
Maple Leafs 0 1 0 1

First Period1, Buffalo, Larsson 8 (Gionta, Foligno), 7:09. 2, Buffalo, C.O'Reilly 2 (Eichel, R.O'Reilly), 19:41 (pp). PenaltiesCampbell, Tor (slashing), 7:45; Corrado, Tor (interference), 18:12.

Second Period3, Buffalo, C.O'Reilly 3 (Legwand, Gorges), 3:41. 4, Toronto, Laich 2 (Lindberg, Corrado), 13:32. PenaltiesBrennan, Tor (interference), 7:31; Gorges, Buf (high-sticking), 10:12.

Third Period5, Buffalo, Larsson 9 (McCabe, Bogosian), 19:57 (en). PenaltiesNelson, Buf (holding), 12:17; Gardiner, Tor (slashing), 13:53; Foligno, Buf (tripping), 16:47; Kadri, Tor (roughing), 19:57; Larsson, Buf (roughing), 19:57; McCabe, Buf, misconduct, 19:57. Shots on GoalToronto 5-11-10—26. Buffalo 16-17-4—37. Power-play opportunitiesToronto 0 of 3; Buffalo 1 of 4. GoaliesToronto, Sparks 6-6-1 (36 shots-33 saves). Buffalo, C.Johnson 20-16-4 (26-25).

at Hurricanes 1 1 2 4
Rangers 0 3 0 3

First Period1, Carolina, P.Brown 1 (Skinner, Hainsey), 11:05. PenaltiesMoore, NYR (tripping), 8:26; Carolina bench, served by Tolchinsky (too many men), 12:03.

Second Period2, N.Y. Rangers, Zuccarello 25 (Stepan, Boyle), 1:36. 3, N.Y. Rangers, Ric.Nash 15 (Miller, McDonagh), 5:03. 4, Carolina, Faulk 16 (Tolchinsky, Murphy), 13:27. 5, N.Y. Rangers, Kreider 19 (Stepan, Yandle), 17:18 (pp). PenaltiesMurphy, Car (holding stick), 9:01; Hainsey, Car (hooking), 16:54.

Third Period6, Carolina, Skinner 27 (Murphy, P.Brown), 4:22. 7, Carolina, Rask 21, 9:06 (pp). PenaltiesMiller, NYR (high-sticking), 8:12. Shots on GoalN.Y. Rangers 4-13-10—27. Carolina 13-4-11—28. Power-play opportunitiesN.Y. Rangers 1 of 3; Carolina 1 of 2. GoaliesN.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 33-20-7 (28 shots-24 saves). Carolina, Ward 22-16-10 (27-24).

at Islanders 3 0 1 4
Blue Jackets 1 1 1 3

First Period1, Columbus, Dubinsky 15 (Jenner), 4:14. 2, N.Y. Islanders, Tavares 28 (Strome, Bailey), 7:25. 3, N.Y. Islanders, Hickey 5 (Okposo, Nielsen), 17:51. 4, N.Y. Islanders, Tavares 29 (Kulemin, Strait), 18:32. PenaltiesProut, Clm, served by Hartnell, minor-major (high-sticking, fighting), 19:34; Lee, NYI, major (fighting), 19:34.

Second Period5, Columbus, Saad 25 (Wennberg, Savard), 15:48 (pp). PenaltiesCizikas, NYI (tripping), 2:36; Hartnell, Clm (roughing), 14:20; Martin, NYI, served by Strome (interference, roughing), 14:20.

Third Period6, Columbus, Jenner 29 (Atkinson), :37. 7, N.Y. Islanders, Lee 14 (Boychuk, Nielsen), 5:23 (pp). PenaltiesSavard, Clm (tripping), 4:14; Hickey, NYI (tripping), 17:14. Shots on GoalColumbus 2-10-12—24. N.Y. Islanders 15-6-6—27. Power-play opportunitiesColumbus 1 of 3; N.Y. Islanders 1 of 2. GoaliesColumbus, Bobrovsky 13-19-1 (27 shots-23 saves). N.Y. Islanders, Greiss 21-11-4 (24-21).

Playoff glance

The top three teams in each division get playoff berths. The two teams in each conference with the next-highest point totals get wild-card berths regardless of their division. Wild-card standings with points, games left (GL; fewer games played is the first tiebreaker) and regulation/overtime wins (ROW, the second tiebreaker)

East Pts GL ROW

Islanders 93 6 37

Flyers 89 6 35

Red Wings 87 5 36

West Pts GL ROW

Predators 91 4 35

Wild 87 5 35*

Avalanche 82 5 35

* — late game not included

Pens close in on playoff berth 03/31/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 31, 2016 10:27pm]
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