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‘NHL’ Articles

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NHL Morning Skate for Monday, April 10. 2017: Regular season ends; Playoffs set; Ducks win 5th straight Pacific Division title; Joe Louis Arena closes as Red Wings win finale; Bickell scores in final game of career

LAST DAY OF REGULAR SEASON FINALIZES PLAYOFF PICTURE . . .
One division title, four playoff positions and four First Round matchups were decided during the final day of the regular season:

* The Ducks clinched the Pacific Division title by defeating the Kings. They will face the Flames in the First Round of the playoffs, their third all-time postseason meeting. Anaheim defeated Calgary in the 2006 Conference Quarterfinals (4-3 ANA) and 2015 First Round (4-1 ANA).

* The Oilers locked in the No. 2 seed in the Pacific Division to set up a First Round series with the Sharks, their second all-time meeting. Edmonton defeated the Sharks in six games in the 2006 Conference Semifinals en route to the Stanley Cup Final.

* The Bruins clinched the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division by virtue of Toronto’s regulation loss to set up a First Round matchup with the Senators, their first all-time postseason meeting.

* The Maple Leafs fell to the No. 2 Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference to set up a First Round series with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals, their first all-time meeting in the postseason.

. . . NHL ANNOUNCES FIRST ROUND SCHEDULE
The NHL announced the dates, starting times and national television coverage for the First Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begins this Wednesday, April 12.

Click here for complete details.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
DETROIT 4, New Jersey 1
TAMPA BAY 4, Buffalo 2
NY ISLANDERS 4, Ottawa 2
ST. LOUIS 3, Colorado 2
Columbus 3, TORONTO 2
NY RANGERS 3, Pittsburgh 2
Carolina 4, PHILADELPHIA 3 (SO)
Florida 2, WASHINGTON 0
ANAHEIM 4, Los Angeles 3 (OT)
EDMONTON 5, Vancouver 2

DUCKS CLAIM FIFTH CONSECUTIVE PACIFIC DIVISION TITLE . . .
Ryan Getzlaf tallied three assists to help the Ducks (46-23-13, 105 points) clinch the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Division, their fifth consecutive division title and sixth overall (also 2006-07).

* The Ducks finished the season on a 14-game point streak (11-0-3), the third-longest such run in franchise history behind 16 and 14-game runs in 2006-07 and 2015-16, respectively.

* Anaheim also registered at least a point in each of their final 10 games at Honda Center (9-0-1), marking the second straight season that the Ducks have posted a 10-game home point streak (Jan. 20 – March 14, 2016: 9-0-1).

* Getzlaf (58) registered at least three assists in a game for the fifth time this season to finish third in the League behind Connor McDavid (70) and Nicklas Backstrom (63).

. . . AS McDAVID NETS 100TH POINT IN OILERS’ NINTH STRAIGHT HOME WIN
Connor McDavid notched two assists to reach the 100-point milestone for the first time in his career (30-70—100 in 82 GP), extend his season-ending point streak to 14 games (7-18—25) and help the Oilers set a franchise record with their ninth consecutive home win.

* McDavid became the second Oilers player to lead the NHL in points, joining Wayne Gretzky who achieved the feat in seven consecutive seasons from 1980-81 to 1986-87.

* At 20 years, 86 days, McDavid became the third-youngest player in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) to lead the League in points, behind only Sidney Crosby (19 years, 244 days in 2006-07) and Gretzky (20 years, 69 days in 1980-81). Elias adds that McDavid is just the fifth player younger than age 21 to hit the 100-point mark over the past 27 seasons.

* McDavid, who led the NHL with 30 multi-point games in 2016-17, became the second Oilers player to record at least 100 points in a season over the past 26 campaigns, joining Doug Weight in 1995-96 (25-79—104 in 82 GP).

* Elias adds that McDavid became the first Oilers player to record points in at least 14 consecutive games since 1987-88 when Mark Messier (11-16—27 in 14 GP) and Gretzky (11-27—38 in 15 GP) each saw their point streaks end on Nov. 29.

ZETTERBERG LEADS RED WINGS IN FINAL GAME AT THE JOE
Playing in his 1,000th NHL game, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg posted 1-1—2 to power the Red Wings to a victory in the final NHL game at Joe Louis Arena, the team’s home since 1979-80.

* Zetterberg, who notched an assist in his first game at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 17, 2002 vs. MTL (his fourth NHL game), became the seventh player to skate in 1,000 career games with the Red Wings franchise. He finished the season with 17-51—68 in 82 GP to lead the Red Wings in scoring.

Riley Sheahan (2-0—2) opened the scoring in the first period and tallied the last goal at The Joe with 2:33 remaining in regulation – his first goals in exactly one year (April 9, 2016 at NYR). In Detroit’s first game in the building on Dec. 27, 1979, Red Wings forwards Dennis Sobchuk (1:43) and Daniel Bolduc (17:46) scored in the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Blues.

* ICYMI: Click here for more details from the final game at Joe Louis Arena.

BICKELL CAPS NHL CAREER WITH SHOOTOUT GOAL
In the final game of his NHL career, Bryan Bickell scored in the shootout to help the Hurricanes win their season finale. Bickell, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, returned to Carolina’s lineup for the final three contests and announced that Sunday would be his last NHL game.

“It was special. First time I lifted the Cup was in Philly. To end it here was nice,” Bickell said. “Kind of think of all the memories and all the support and people that helped, it’s really a moment that rushes in at once. I’m just happy to have them support me, believe in me and let me do what I love.”
Photo via @NHLCanes

LOOSE PUCKS
Cam Atkinson (GWG) moved into sole possession of second place on the Blue Jackets’ all-time goals list as Columbus reached the 50-win mark for the first time . . . Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 39th goal of the season to finish tied for fourth in the League and establish a career high for points in a season (39-36—75 in 82 GP) as the Blues finished the campaign with a 15-2-2 run . . . Kings forward Jarome Iginla (0-1—1) became the 34th player in NHL history to record 1,300 career points (625-675—1,300) . . . Panthers goaltender James Reimer (33 saves) closed the season with back-to-back shutouts . . . Victor Hedman tallied 1-1—2 to eclipse 300 career points (65-236—301 in 549 GP) and finish the season with 16-56—72 in 79 GP, second among NHL defensemen behind Brent Burns (29-47—76 in 82 GP) . . . Oilers forward Jordan Eberle scored his second career hat trick to reach the 20-goal mark . . . Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (1-1—2) became the sixth rookie to reach the 20-goal mark this season, the most since 2010-11 (7) . . . Ducks fans gave Kings broadcaster Bob Millerstanding ovation as he called the final game of his Hall of Fame career.

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHL MORNING SKATE PUBLICATION

 

NHL Morning Skate for Sunday, April 9, 2017: Joe Louis Arena Farewell; Rookie Auston Matthews gets 40th goal; Toronto clinches playoff spot; Bob Miller calls final home game

WHERE WE STAND
One playoff berth, five playoff positions and two First Round matchups were decided during Saturday’s games:

* The Maple Leafs overcame a third-period deficit to defeat the reigning Stanley Cup champion Penguins and clinch the final berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

* The Blues registered a shootout win to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Central Division and set up a First Round matchup with the Wild, who have home ice as the No. 2 seed. Minnesota won the only other postseason meeting between the Blues and Wild, a six-game series in the 2015 First Round.

* The Predators locked up the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference by virtue of their regulation loss and will face the Blackhawks, owners of the No. 1 seed, in the First Round. Chicago defeated Nashville in six games in the 2010 Conference Quarterfinals and 2015 First Round, their only other postseason meetings.

* The Senators clinched the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division by virtue of their win over the Rangers. Ottawa will face either the Maple Leafs or Bruins in the First Round.

* The Sharks clinched the No. 3 seed in the Pacific Division by virtue of Edmonton’s win. San Jose will face either the Ducks or Oilers in the opening round.

* The Flames clinched the No. 1 Wild Card spot by virtue of Nashville’s regulation loss. Calgary will start the opening round on the road against either the Ducks or Oilers.

Confirmed First Round Matchups
Western Conference
(No. 1 Central) Blackhawks vs. (No. 2 Wild Card) Predators
(No. 2 Central) Wild vs. (No. 3 Central) Blues

Eastern Conference
(No. 1 Atlantic) Canadiens vs. (No. 1 Wild Card) Rangers
(No. 2 Metropolitan) Penguins vs. (No. 3 Metropolitan) Blue Jackets

Potential First Round Matchups
Western Conference
(No. 1 Pacific) Ducks OR Oilers vs. (No. 1 Wild Card) Flames
(No. 2 Pacific) Ducks OR Oilers vs. (No. 3 Pacific) Sharks

Eastern Conference
(No. 1 Metropolitan) Capitals vs. (No. 2 Wild Card) Bruins OR Maple Leafs
(No. 2 Atlantic) Senators vs. (No. 3 Atlantic) Bruins OR Maple Leafs

JOE LOUIS ARENA SET FOR FINAL NHL GAME
Henrik Zetterberg will skate in his 1,000th regular-season game when the Red Wings host the Devils in the final NHL game at Joe Louis Arena. The 36-year-old Red Wings captain, who has spent his entire career with Detroit, leads the club with 16-50—66 in 81 games this season. Current players and alumni will walk a red carpet to enter The Joe during a pre-game event, with the celebration for the “Farewell Weekend at The Joe” culminating with an hour-long “Farewell to the Joe Ceremony” immediately following the game.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
OTTAWA 3, NY Rangers 1
PHILADELPHIA 4, Columbus 2
Washington 3, BOSTON 1
LOS ANGELES 3, Chicago 2 (OT)
NY Islanders 4, NEW JERSEY 2
WINNIPEG 2, Nashville 1
TORONTO 5, Pittsburgh 3
Montreal 3, DETROIT 2 (OT)
FLORIDA 3, Buffalo 0
St. Louis 5, CAROLINA 4 (SO)
DALLAS 4, Colorado 3 (SO)
Minnesota 3, ARIZONA 1
Edmonton 3, VANCOUVER 2
SAN JOSE 3, Calgary 1

MATTHEWS NETS 40TH GOAL AS MAPLE LEAFS CLINCH FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT
Rookies Kasperi KapanenConnor Brown and Auston Matthews each scored in the final 5:30 of regulation to help the Maple Leafs erase a 3-2 deficit and clinch the final berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 66th postseason appearance in franchise history.

* Matthews (1-1—2) scored his 40th goal of the season to move into a share of second in the NHL, four back of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (44). He is just the second Maple Leafs player to reach the 40-goal mark over the past 22 seasons, joining former captain Mats Sundin who scored 41 goals in 1996-97 and 2001-02 (82 GP in both).

* Matthews, 19, leads all rookies with 40-29—69 this season (81 GP). Elias notes that Matthews became the fourth rookie in NHL history to score 40 goals in a season before celebrating his 20th birthday, following Dale Hawerchuk (45 G in 1981-82), Sylvain Turgeon (40 G in 1983-84) and Mario Lemieux (43 G in 1984-85).

* Kapanen tied the game with his first NHL goal (16 GP), while Brown became the third Maple Leafs rookie to reach the 20-goal mark this season.

McDAVID, OILERS CONTINUE PURSUIT OF SCORING AND DIVISION TITLES
Connor McDavid notched an assist in the third period to extend his point streak to 13 games (7-16—23) and move the Oilers (46-26-9, 101 points) to within two points of the idle Ducks (45-23-13, 103 points) for first place in the Pacific Division.

* Edmonton has won 11 of its past 13 games to hit the 100-point mark for the seventh time in franchise history and first since 1986-87 (50-24-6, 106 points).

* Elias notes that McDavid is the first Oilers player to record points in at least 13 consecutive games since Esa Tikkanen had an equal run from Feb. 17 – March 15, 1989 (7-14—21). His point streak is the longest by an NHL player since Shayne Gostisbehere had 15-game run from Jan. 19 – Feb. 20, 2016 (5-13—18).

* McDavid (30-68—98 in 81 GP) leads the NHL in assists and holds a nine-point lead over Patrick Kane (34-55-89 in 82 GP) and Sidney Crosby (44-45—89 in 75 GP) in the race for the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s top point-getter. Only one Oilers player has reached the 100-point mark over the past 26 seasons: Doug Weight in 1995-96 (25-79—104 in 82 GP).

NEW FACES GUIDE PLAYOFF-BOUND CLUBS
The Capitals, Wild and Senators received winning goals from players added before or during the 2016-17 regular season:

Kevin Shattenkirk lifted the Capitals to an 11-1-1 record in their past 13 games as Washington became the second team in NHL history to register at least 55 wins in consecutive seasons. At 55-18-8 (118 points), the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals sit one victory shy of matching a single-season franchise record set in 2015-16 (56-18-8, 120 points).

Eric Staal (GWG) helped the Wild (49-25-8, 106 points) finish 2016-17 with four straight wins and franchise records for wins and points in a season. Martin Hanzal, who was acquired from the Coyotes on Feb. 26, scored against his former club to reach the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career.

Derick Brassard scored the winning goal against his former club – with assists to fellow Senators newcomers Viktor Stalberg and Alexandre Burrows – as Ottawa clinched the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division.

KINGS MOUNT COMEBACK WIN IN FINAL HOME GAME CALLED BY BOB MILLER
With play-by-play announcer Bob Miller back in the broadcast booth for the penultimate game of his Hall of Fame career, Dustin Brown tied the score with 55 seconds left in the third period and Drew Doughty tallied 27 seconds into overtime to help the Kings win their final home game of the season.

* The voice of the Kings for the last 44 years, Miller was honored with a pregame Fan Fest, on-ice logos and special warmup jerseys. Click here to watch him make his final call at STAPLES Center.

PLAYERS, CLUBS MATCH AND SET RECORDS IN SEASON FINALES
* Forward Alex Galchenyuk scored in overtime to lift the Canadiens to victory in their regular-season finale and last visit to Joe Louis Arena. Galchenyuk tied an NHL record with his fifth overtime goal of the season, equaling a mark set by Steven Stamkos in 2011-12 and matched by Jonathan Toews in 2015-16.

* Captain Blake Wheeler scored the go-ahead goal with 44.6 seconds left in regulation to help Winnipeg end the season on a seven-game win streak, establishing a new Jets/Thrashers franchise record. Wheeler capped the season with points in eight straight games (4-7—11).

* San Jose’s Brent Burns (0-1—1) recorded his 76th point of the season (29-47—76) to lead the Sharks to victory and establish a single-season franchise record for points by a defenseman.

LOOSE PUCKS
Jeff Skinner (2-0—2) scored for the 14th time in his past 13 games (14-3—17). He ranks sixth in the NHL with a career-high 37 goals this season, the most by a Hurricanes player since Eric Staal scored 40 goals in 2008-09 . . . Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel (1-1—2) scored for a fifth consecutive game (5-3—8) . . . Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr (0-2—2) reached the 30-assist mark for the 22nd time in 23 NHL seasons . . . Seth Jones scored his 12th goal of 2016-17 to match a single-season Blue Jackets franchise record for goals by a defenseman . . . Members of the Hurricanes organization surprised Bryan Bickell by participating in the 2017 MS Walk outside PNC Arena. Bickell announced on Saturday that he will retire from the NHL after Carolina’s final game . . . Kraft Hockeyville USA announced the top 10 finalists . . . Former Devils forward Patrik Elias, who announced his retirement last week, skated one last lap at Prudential Center.

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHL MORNING SKATE

NHL Morning Skate for Saturday, April 8, 2017: Toronto, Tampa Bay fighting for final Playoff spot

SNEAK PEEK AT SATURDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
NY Rangers @ Ottawa, 12:30 p.m., SN, NHLN-US, RDS, MSG
Columbus @ Philadelphia, 12:30 p.m., CSN-PH, FS-O
Washington @ Boston, 3 p.m., NBC
Chicago @ Los Angeles, 6 p.m., FS-W, CSN-CH
NY Islanders @ New Jersey, 6 p.m., MSG, MSG+
Nashville @ Winnipeg, 7 p.m., CITY, FS-TN
Pittsburgh @ Toronto, 7 p.m., CBC, NHLN-US, ROOT
Montreal @ Detroit, 7 p.m., SN, TVAS, FS-D
Buffalo @ Florida, 7 p.m., FS-F, MSG-B
St. Louis @ Carolina, 7 p.m., FS-CR, FS-MW
Colorado @ Dallas, 8 p.m., FS-SW+, ALT
Minnesota @ Arizona, 9 p.m., FS-A PLUS, FS-N
Edmonton @ Vancouver, 10 p.m., CBC
Calgary @ San Jose, 10 p.m., SN, NHLN-US, NBCS CA+
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LAST SPOT IN EAST, PLAYOFF SEEDING TO BE DECIDED ON FINAL WEEKEND
The last available postseason spot in the Eastern Conference and seeding for the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be decided during the final weekend of the regular season, which closes with a 14-game slate on Saturday and 10-game schedule on Sunday.

* The Maple Leafs (39-26-15, 93 points), who currently hold the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference, look to clinch the final berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they face the Penguins at Air Canada Centre. Chasing Toronto are the Lightning (41-30-10, 92 points) and Islanders (39-29-12, 90 points).

Remaining Games for Teams in Playoff Contention:
Toronto (two games): Saturday vs. PIT, Sunday vs. CBJ
Tampa Bay (one game): Sunday vs. BUF
NY Islanders (two games): Saturday at NJD, Sunday vs. OTT

* Just two of the postseason’s eight First Round matchups are set entering the closing weekend of the regular season, both in the Eastern Conference (MTL vs. NYR, PIT vs. CBJ).

*  In the Western Conference, six playoff positions have yet to be determined, with only the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the Central Division claimed by the Blackhawks (50-23-8, 108 points) and Wild (48-25-8, 104 points), respectively.

* The Ducks (45-23-13, 103 points) look to fend off the Oilers (45-26-9, 99 points) for the Pacific Division title. Anaheim has one game remaining (Sunday vs. LAK), while Edmonton has two (Saturday at VAN, Sunday vs. VAN).

* In the Eastern Conference, three playoff positions have yet to be determined: the No. 2 and 3 seeds in the Atlantic Division as well as the second Wild Card spot.

JOE LOUIS ARENA TO HOST FINAL NHL GAMES
The Red Wings will hold the final two NHL games at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena when they host the Canadiens on Saturday and Devils on Sunday. The second-oldest arena in the League (behind New York’s Madison Square Garden), Joe Louis Arena has been the home of the Red Wings since 1979 and witnessed a 25-season playoff streak that came to a close this season and four Stanley Cup-winning campaigns. The Red Wings will move to the newly-built Little Caesars Arena for the 2017-18 season.

KINGS TO HOST BOB MILLER APPRECIATION DAY
The LA Kings will hold “Bob Miller Appreciation Day” on Saturday as the Hall of Fame broadcaster calls the final two games of his career this weekend when the Kings host the Blackhawks on Saturday and visit the Ducks on Sunday. The voice of the Kings for the last 44 years, Miller’s legacy will be honored with a pregame Fan Fest, on-ice logos and special warmup jerseys.

FRIDAY’S RESULT
Home Team in Caps
Tampa Bay 4, MONTREAL 2

LIGHTNING KEEP PLAYOFF HOPES ALIVE
Nikita Kucherov (1-1—2) scored his 40th goal of the season as the Lightning (41-30-10, 92 points) improved to 7-1-1 in their last nine games. Tampa Bay moved within a point of the Maple Leafs (39-26-15, 93 points) for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and will conclude its regular-season schedule on Sunday against the Sabres at Amalie Arena.

* Kucherov became just the fifth Lightning player to record a 40-goal season, joining Brian BradleyVincent Lecavalier (2), Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos (4). He has set career-highs in goals, assists (44) and points (84) this season and trails only Sidney Crosby (43) in the Rocket Richard Trophy race.

Yanni Gourde (2-0—2) recorded his first career multi-goal game and has scored five times over his last seven contests after finding the net just once in his first 14 NHL games.

LOOSE PUCKS
Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen (1-1—2) has recorded five points in his last three games (3-2—5) . . . Defenseman Will Butcher of the University of Denver, a fifth round selection by the Avalanche in the 2013 NHL Draft (123rd overall), was named winner of the Hobey Baker Award . . .  Registration opened for the Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge . . . Ducks forward Nick Ritchie was suspended for two games for roughing Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival.

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHL MORNING SKATE PUBLICATION

NHL Morning Skate for Friday, April 7, 2017: Ottawa Senators clinch Playoff berth

THURSDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
Ottawa 2, BOSTON 1 (SO)
Pittsburgh 7, NEW JERSEY 4
NY Islanders 3, CAROLINA 0
Winnipeg 5, COLUMBUS 4
Tampa Bay 4, TORONTO 1
St. Louis 6, FLORIDA 3
Nashville 7, DALLAS 3
Minnesota 4, COLORADO 3
ARIZONA 4, Vancouver 3
ANAHEIM 4, Chicago 0
Calgary 4, LOS ANGELES 1
Edmonton 4, SAN JOSE 2

SENATORS CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH IN POTENTIAL FIRST ROUND PREVIEW
Alexandre Burrows, acquired via trade on Feb. 27, scored the tying goal and CraigAnderson made 28 saves through overtime to help the Senators clinch a playoff berth for the 16th time in franchise history.

* At 43-27-10 (96 points), the Senators moved one point ahead of the Bruins (44-30-7, 95 points) for second place in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa holds a game in hand on Boston – a potential First Round opponent – and swept the season series for the first time in franchise history (OTT: 4-0-0, BOS: 0-3-1).

* All of Ottawa’s 16 playoff appearances have come in the past 20 seasons. Elias says the Red Wings (19) and Sharks (17) are the only teams that have qualified for the postseason more times in that span.

ISLANDERS, LIGHTNING STAY ALIVE IN RACE FOR FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT
The Islanders (39-29-12, 90 points) and Lightning (40-30-10, 90 points) earned victories in must-win games to stay in the race for the 16th and final berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tampa Bay’s triumph came against Toronto (39-26-15, 93 points), who holds a three-point lead over both clubs for the second Eastern Conference Wild Card spot:

Brock Nelson (GWG) scored just 87 seconds into the contest and Jaroslav Halak denied all 29 shots he faced as the Islanders extended their win streak to four games. Halak registered his second shutout of the season to extend his personal win streak to five games and improve to 5-1-0 since rejoining the Islanders on March 24 (1.51 GAA, .949 SV%, 1 SO).

Nikita Kucherov (GWG) scored his 39th goal of the season (tied for second in the NHL) to help the Lightning improved to 6-1-1 in their past eight games overall and finish their season series against Toronto with a 2-1-1 record (TOR: 2-2-0). Victor Hedman tallied 0-3—3 to take the League lead for assists among defensemen and become the first blueliner in Lightning history to reach the 70-point mark in a season (15-55—70).

Remaining Games for Teams in Playoff Contention
Toronto
: Saturday vs. PIT and Sunday vs. CBJ
NY Islanders: Saturday at NJD and Sunday vs. OTT
Tampa Bay: Friday at MTL and Sunday vs. BUF

DUCKS, OILERS EARN WINS IN PURSUIT OF PACIFIC DIVISION TITLE
The Pacific Division title will be decided within the final two days of the regular season following wins by the Ducks (45-23-13, 103 points) and Oilers (45-26-9, 99 points):

John Gibson (37 saves) posted his sixth shutout of the season and Corey Perry netted the game-winning goal to help the Ducks extend their point streak to 13 games (10-0-3) dating to March 12. Anaheim, who has clinched home ice in the opening round, also moved to 8-0-1 in their past nine contests at Honda Center.

Milan Lucic (3-0—3) registered a natural hat trick in the third period to help the Oilers rally past the Sharks (45-29-7, 97 points) and stay in the race for the No. 1 seed in the division. Connor McDavid (1-1—2) reached the 30-goal mark for the first time to extend his point streak to 12 games (7-15—22) and open a nine-point lead in the race for the Art Ross Trophy (30-67—97).

* Edmonton will contest a home-and-home set against the Canucks on the weekend, while Anaheim hosts the Kings in their regular-season finale on Sunday. The Ducks hold a 42-41 advantage in ROW, but the Oilers lead the season series tiebreaker.

WESTERN CONFERENCE SEEDING TO BE DECIDED ON FINAL WEEKEND
The Blues (44-29-7, 95 points), Flames (45-32-4, 94 points) and Predators (41-28-12, 94 points) earned wins to maintain their positions in the Western Conference playoff picture. St. Louis owns the ROW tiebreaker against both clubs (STL: 43, CGY: 41, NSH: 39).

Jaden Schwartz collected 1-2—3 to help the Blues improve to 13-2-2 in their past 17 games and strengthen their grip on third place in the Central Division. St. Louis plays Saturday at CAR and Sunday vs. COL, needing only one point to clinch the No. 3 seed.

Jon Gillies, a third round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft (75th overall), made 27 saves in his NHL debut to help the Flames maintain the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Calgary plays its final game of the regular season on Saturday at SJS.

Viktor Arvidsson (2-2—4) established a career high for points in a game as the Predators raced to a 5-0 lead en route to victory. Nashville closes the 2016-17 regular season on Saturday at WPG.

PENGUINS LOCK UP HOME ICE AGAINST BLUE JACKETS
Pittsburgh won its fourth straight game to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division and home ice in their First Round series against Columbus.

* The Penguins (50-19-11, 111 points) reached the 50-win mark for the fourth time in franchise history (also 1992-93, 2011-12 and 2013-14). They will finish with the No. 2 seed in the NHL and the second-most points in franchise history behind the 1992-93 campaign, in which they established franchise records for wins (56) and points (119) in a season.

Sidney Crosby (0-2—2) collected 5-5—10 in the five-game season series against the Devils and now shares second in the NHL with 43-45—88 this season (74 GP).

LOOSE PUCKS
Bryan Little (1-3—4) matched a career high for points in a game and Eric Comrie made 35 saves while making his NHL debut as the Jets extended their win streak to six games, their longest such run since relocating to Winnipeg in 2011-12 . . . San Jose’s Brent Burns, who leads NHL blueliners with 29-46—75 (81 GP), matched his own single-season franchise record for points by a defenseman (27-48—75 in 2015-16). He is the first defenseman to record back-to-back 75-point seasons since Brian Leetch achieved the feat with the Rangers in 1995-96 and 1996-97 . . . Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot recorded his 41st win to establish a single-season franchise record, surpassing the mark set by Grant Fuhr (40 in 1987-88) . . . Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk became the first goaltender in franchise history to reach 40 wins in a season . . . Oscar Klefbom (0-4—4) became the first Oilers defenseman to record four assists in a game since Chris Pronger (0-4—4) on Dec. 31, 2005 . . . Blake Wheeler (0-1—1) extended his point streak to seven games (3-7—10) . . . Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel (1-1—2) scored for a fourth straight game . . . Bruins forward Brad Marchand has been suspended for two games for spearing Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin . . . Denver will face Minnesota-Duluth in the championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four on Saturday . . . The Blues announced that forward Vladimir Sobotka will return to the team and has signed a three-year contract extension.

 

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHL MORNING SKATE PUBLICATIONS

NHL Morning Skate for Thursday, April 6, 2017: Capitals are NHL’s top team for the regular season

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
BUFFALO 2, Montreal 1
WASHINGTON 2, NY Rangers 0

OVECHKIN, HOLTBY HELP CAPITALS WRAP UP PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY
Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring and Braden Holtby denied all 24 shots he faced to help the Capitals (54-18-8, 116 points) clinch the Metropolitan Division title, Eastern Conference, Presidents’ Trophy and the No. 1 overall seed in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

* The Capitals, who own a 10-1-1 mark in their past 12 games, claimed the Presidents’ Trophy for the second straight season and third time in franchise history (2009-10 and 2015-16). Only two other clubs have won the Presidents’ Trophy at least three times since its inception in 1985-86: the Red Wings (6) and Rangers (3).

* This marks the 10th division title for Washington and the fourth time that the club has secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference (2009-10, 2010-11 and 2015-16).

* Ovechkin scored his 96th career game-winning goal (eighth this season) to tie Mats Sundin for 11h place on the NHL’s all-time list. He shares ninth in the League with 34 goals overall this season.

* Holtby registered his ninth shutout of the season (62 GP) to regain the League lead and equal a franchise record originally set by Jim Carey in 1995-96 (71 GP) and tied by Holtby in 2014-15 (73 GP). He also moved into sole possession of the League lead with his 42nd win of 2016-17.

DID YOU KNOW?
The Capitals posted their 12th shutout of the season as they continue their pursuit of the William M. Jennings Trophy, which is awarded “to the goalkeeper(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it.”

Washington has allowed only 179 goals against this season to lead the League, five fewer than the Blue Jackets (184). The Canadiens (194), Kings (195), Sharks (196) and Ducks (197) are the only other clubs with fewer than 200 goals against in 2016-17.

TWO OF EIGHT MATCHUPS DETERMINED FOR FIRST ROUND
Two matchups for the First Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs were determined via Wednesday’s results:

* The Rangers are locked into the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and a First Round series against the Canadiens, the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Division. This marks their 16th postseason meeting (NYR: 8, MTL: 7) and second in the past four years. In the 2014 Conference Finals, Henrik Lundqvist registered a series-clinching shutout in Game 6 to lead New York past Montreal and into the Stanley Cup Final.

* The Penguins and Blue Jackets are guaranteed to meet in the opening round for the second time – Pittsburgh defeated Columbus in six games in the 2014 First Round, a series that featured two overtime victories by the Blue Jackets. The Penguins currently hold a three-point lead over the Blue Jackets in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division and home ice in the opening round.

LOOSE PUCKS
The Capitals extended a franchise record with their League-leading 32nd home win of the season . . . The Sabres closed their home schedule with a victory over the Canadiens, the top seed in the Atlantic Division . . . Sabres forward Jack Eichel (0-1—1) established career highs for assists (33) and points (57) in a season, despite playing in only 59 games in 2016-17 . . . Canadiens forward Alexander Radulov extended his point streak to five games (3-3—6) . . . Bruins forward Brad Marchand will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety this morning for spearing Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin . . . Ilkka Sinisalo, who played in the Stanley Cup Final twice for the Flyers during his 11 NHL seasons, died in his native Finland on Wednesday at age 58.

SNEAK PEEK AT THURSDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Ottawa @ Boston, 7 p.m., NBCSN, NESN, TSN5, RDS
Pittsburgh @ New Jersey, 7 p.m., SN360, MSG+, ROOT
NY Islanders @ Carolina, 7 p.m., FS-CR, MSG+ 2
Winnipeg @ Columbus, 7 p.m., FS-O, TSN3
Tampa Bay @ Toronto, 7:30 p.m., TVAS, TSN4, FS-F
St. Louis @ Florida, 7:30 p.m., FS-F, FS-MW
Nashville @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., FS-SW, FS-TN
Minnesota @ Colorado, 9 p.m., ALT, FS-N
Vancouver @ Arizona, 10 p.m., FS-A PLUS, SNP
Chicago @ Anaheim, 10 p.m., NBCSN, CSN-CH
Calgary @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., SN360, FS-W
Edmonton @ San Jose, 10:30 p.m., NBCS CA+, SNW
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FINAL TWO PLAYOFF POSITIONS UP FOR GRABS ON 12-GAME NIGHT
The final two spots in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs could be determined on Thursday as all four teams in the running take the ice:

* The Senators (42-27-10, 94 points), who would clinch a playoff spot by earning a point, head to Boston to take on the Bruins (44-30-6, 94 points), who wrapped up their spot in the postseason on Tuesday. The game will be broadcast in the U.S. on NBCSN as part of a doubleheader – in the second half, the Ducks (44-23-13, 101 points) aim to inch closer to the Pacific Division title when they host the Blackhawks (50-22-8, 108 points), who have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

* In Toronto, the Lightning (39-30-10, 88 points) look to keep their playoff hopes alive as they face off against the Maple Leafs (39-25-15, 93 points), who need only one point to wrap up a playoff berth. Elias notes that Toronto’s Auston Matthews (39-28—67) sits one goal shy of becoming just the fourth rookie in NHL history to score 40 goals in a season before celebrating his 20th birthday.

* The Islanders (38-29-12, 88 points), the first team outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, aim to stay in the postseason hunt when they visit the Hurricanes (35-30-14, 84 points). New York has won three straight games overall and five of its past six road contests.

NCAA FROZEN FOUR BEGINS TODAY
The NCAA Frozen Four begins today at United Center in Chicago:

Semifinal 1 – Harvard vs. Minnesota-Duluth (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Semifinal 2 – Denver vs. Notre Dame (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Click here for more information.

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHL MORNING SKATE PUBLICATION

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