Final Score: Carolina 2, Montreal 1 (SO)
Raleigh, NC - Eric Staal scored the game-winning goal in the third round of the shootout, lifting the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday at PNC Arena. Staal went in on goal with speed, making a quick deke and lifting the puck past the stick side of Habs goalie Peter Budaj to seal the victory. Cam Ward, who earned his 30th win of the season, stopped Lars Eller and David Desharnais in the shootout while former Hurricane Erik Cole shot off the post. Chad LaRose scored in regulation for the Hurricanes, who have won two straight, and Ward posted 30 stops. Blake Geoffrion netted the only goal for the Canadiens, who have lost five of their last six. Budaj was a hard-luck loser, making 28 saves on 29 shots.
Final Score: Washington 4, Florida 2
Washington, DC - The Southeast Division is still up for grabs after the Washington Capitals beat the Florida Panthers, 4-2, on Thursday night. But both teams came out of the game happy due to the final score in Philadelphia. The Flyers took down the Sabres by a 2-1 margin to give Washington and Florida each a spot in the postseason. The Southeast Division will be decided on Saturday. The Panthers will take a two- point lead into Saturday's game against Carolina. The Capitals, who sit eighth in the Eastern Conference with 90 points, will end the regular season at the New York Rangers. Florida will need just one point against the Hurricanes to win their first-ever division crown. However, Washington holds the tiebreaker over the Panthers. Brooks Laich had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who have won three of four. Alex Ovechkin, Jay Beagle and Alexander Semin also lit the lamp. The news was not all good for the home team. Starting goaltender Michal Neuvirth stopped all 13 shots he faced before leaving early in the second period with an apparent left leg injury. Braden Holtby turned aside 12-of-14 shots in relief. Mikael Samuelsson and Ed Jovanovski scored for the Panthers, who have secured a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Jose Theodore stopped 19-of-23 shots in defeat.
Final Score: Philadelphia 2, Buffalo 1
Philadelphia, PA - Marc-Andre Bourdon and Matt Read scored in the third period and the Philadelphia Flyers locked their playoff position while knocking Buffalo out of the postseason with a 2-1 win. Philadelphia will be seeded fifth and will face cross-state rival Pittsburgh, which downed the Rangers on Thursday to take the fourth seed. Buffalo, meanwhile, was knocked out of contention with the loss and Washington's win over Florida on Thursday. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 25 shots in the win for the Flyers, who went 22-13-6 at home and will finish the regular season in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Ville Leino scored the lone goal while Ryan Miller allowed two on 35 shots for the Sabres, who dropped three of their last four games and will now miss the postseason for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 5, NY Rangers 2
Pittsburgh, PA - Marc-Andre Fleury matched a franchise record and the Pittsburgh Penguins secured home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Fleury made 35 saves to notch his 226th career win, tying him with Tom Barrasso for the most in club history. Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Tyler Kennedy and Richard Park each had a goal for Pittsburgh, which locked up the Eastern Conference's fourth seed and will meet Philadelphia in the opening round. Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov supplied the goals for a Rangers team that had already clinched the top spot in the East. New York and Vancouver remain tied with 109 points in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. The Canucks are currently battling the Flames in Calgary. Martin Biron stopped 27 shots in his 500th career game.
Final Score: New Jersey 2, Detroit 1
Detroit, MI - Petr Sykora scored the winner in the third period as the New Jersey Devils took a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Despite the win, New Jersey will sit in the sixth seed when the playoffs start as Philadelphia locked in the fifth spot with its win over Buffalo on Thursday. However, the Devils' opponent is not known yet as it could be either Washington or Florida. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored the other goal while Martin Brodeur made 23 stops for the Devils, who have won their past five games. Tomas Holmstrom scored the only goal of the game for the Red Wings, who have fallen to fifth in the Western Conference after Nashville beat Dallas on Thursday to move one point ahead of Detroit. Jimmy Howard gave up both goals on 21 shots in the loss.
Final Score: Nashville 2, Dallas 0
Nashville, TN - Pekka Rinne made 28 saves to record his fifth shutout of the season, as the playoff-bound Nashville Predators eliminated the Dallas Stars from playoff contention with a 2-0 victory. Patric Hornqvist had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who have 102 points and sit one point ahead of Detroit for the fourth spot in the Western Conference. The Red Wings lost to the Devils on Thursday. Francis Bouillon also lit the lamp for Nashville, which wraps up the regular season Saturday at Colorado. Detroit plays Chicago on the same day. Kari Lehtonen made 29 saves for the Stars, who have lost four in a row. Dallas ends the season at home against the Blues on Saturday.
Final Score: Minnesota 2, Chicago 1 (SO)
St. Paul, MN - Devin Setoguchi scored the game-winning goal in the third round of the shootout and the Minnesota Wild slipped past the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1, at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday. Setoguchi picked up the puck and went in on goal with speed before ripping a wrist shot past the glove hand of Blackhawks' netminder Corey Crawford. Josh Harding stopped Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp before Viktor Stalberg sent his shot wide of the net to seal the win for the Wild, who have won four of their last five games. Cal Clutterbuck scored in regulation and Harding posted 22 saves in the victory. Jamal Mayers scored the lone goal for the Blackhawks, who have dropped two straight, but remain firmly in the sixth spot in the Western Conference with one game remaining. Crawford gave up one goal on 23 shots in the loss.