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NHL Morning Skate Report for Sunday, March 19, 2017; Capitals punch Playoff ticket

SATURDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
DETROIT 5, Colorado 1
Columbus 3, NY ISLANDERS 2 (OT)
NY Rangers 3, MINNESOTA 2
Chicago 2, TORONTO 1 (OT)
Montreal 4, OTTAWA 3 (SO)
Washington 5, TAMPA BAY 3
CAROLINA 4, Nashville 2
St. Louis 3, ARIZONA 0
EDMONTON 2, Vancouver 0
Anaheim 2, SAN JOSE 1

OSHIE’S HAT TRICK HELPS CAPITALS PUNCH TICKET TO THE POSTSEASON
T.J. Oshie (3-1—4) scored the third regular-season hat trick of his NHL career to help the Capitals become the first team to clinch a berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, their 27th postseason appearance in franchise history and ninth in the past 10 seasons.

* At 46-17-8 (100 points), the League-leading Capitals reached the 100-point mark for the 10th time in franchise history and third consecutive season.

* Oshie, who equaled a career high for points in a game, has collected 29-20—49 in 2016-17 (58 GP) to establish a personal best for goals in a season.

Nicklas Backstrom (0-4—4) matched a career high with four helpers to reach 54 assists and move within one of tying Connor McDavid for the League lead.

PURSUIT OF DIVISION TITLES HEATS UP
The race for first place in both the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions intensified Saturday as the top two teams in each division met in Ottawa and San Jose, respectively:

Paul Byron scored the decisive marker in the shootout – after both teams tallied a tying goal in the third period – to power the Canadiens (40-23-8, 88 points) past the Senators (39-23-8, 86 points) in the first half of a back-to-back home-and-home set. Montreal and Ottawa will play tonight on Rogers Hometown Hockey before closing their season series on Saturday at Bell Centre (OTT: 2-0-1; MTL: 1-1-1).

* Ryan Getzlaf (0-1—1) reached the 800-point milestone (235-565—800) to help the Ducks (38-23-11, 87 points) improve to 5-1-1 in their last seven games and move within four points of the Sharks (42-22-7, 91 points) for first place in the Pacific Division. Jonathan Bernier (33 saves) improved to 5-0-1 in his last six appearances, while Jakob Silfverberg (GWG) reached 20 goals for the second time (also 2015-16).

Meanwhile, Chicago opened a five-point lead atop the Central Division and Western Conference with a victory in Toronto:

* Ryan Hartman scored in the final 20 seconds of overtime to power the Blackhawks (46-20-5, 97 points) to their fourth consecutive win. John Hayden tallied the first goal of his NHL career (2 GP) to become the second Illinois-born player to score for the Blackhawks this season, joining Vinnie Hinostroza (6).

OTHER PLAYOFF HOPEFULS SECURE KEY VICTORIES
Several clubs secured victories to improve their chances of clinching a playoff berth:

* Cam Talbot (33 saves) picked up his sixth shutout of the season and Connor McDavid netted the game-winner as the Oilers (38-24-9, 85 points) reclaimed third place in the Pacific Division. McDavid regained sole possession of the League lead with 25-55—80 and became the first Oilers player to reach the 80-point mark in a season since 2013-14 (Taylor Hall: 27-53—80).

Jake Allen (31 saves) registered his fourth shutout of the season to help the Blues (38-28-5, 81 points) improve to 7-1-0 in their last eight contests and overtake the Predators (35-25-11, 81 points) – who lost in regulation – for third place in the Central Division. Allen established a career high with his 27th win of the season. St. Louis and Nashville will wrap up their season series on April 2 at Scottrade Center (NSH: 3-1-0; STL: 1-3-0).

Zach Werenski (0-2—2) notched an assist on Cam Atkinson’s overtime goal to lift the Blue Jackets (46-18-6, 98 points) to a 6-1-0 mark in their last seven games. Werenski has collected 11-35—46 this season (70 GP) – including 2-5—7 during an active five-game point streak – and now sits five points shy of tying the single-season franchise record for most by a defenseman, a mark set by James Wisniewski in 2013-14 (7-44—51 in 75 GP).

Jimmy Vesey scored his fifth game-winning goal of the season to guide the Rangers (45-24-3, 93 points) – who occupy the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference – to their League-leading 26th road win of the season, two shy of matching the franchise record set in 2014-15. Elias notes that Vesey became the first Rangers rookie to score five or more game-winning goals in a season since 1985-86 (Mike Ridley: 6).

LOOSE PUCKS
The Hurricanes (30-27-12, 72 points) extended their point streak to six contests (4-0-2) . . . Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov scored the 100th and 101st goals of his NHL career . . . William Nylander (1-6—7 in 7 GP), Elias Lindholm (2-4—6 in 6 GP), Rickard Rakell (4-2—6 in 5 GP) and Artemi Panarin (3-3—6 in 5 GP) extended their points streaks . . . Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano skated in his 776th consecutive game and tied Craig Ramsay for the fourth-longest such run in NHL history . . . Sharks forward Logan Couture (1-0—1) skated in the 500th game of his NHL career . . . The Maple Leafs donned Toronto St. Pats uniforms, honoring one of their earliest eras in franchise history.

 

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