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NHL Morning Skate Report for Monday, March 20, 2017: Blackhawks, Blue Jackets clinch playoff spots; Jagr hits 1,700th game milestone

SUNDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
Columbus 4, NEW JERSEY 1
PITTSBURGH 4, Florida 0
WINNIPEG 5, Minnesota 4
CHICAGO 6, Colorado 3
PHILADELPHIA 4, Carolina 3 (OT)
MONTREAL 4, Ottawa 1
CALGARY 5, Los Angeles 2

BLACKHAWKS CLINCH NINTH CONSECUTIVE POSTSEASON APPEARANCE
The Blackhawks scored five unanswered goals in the third period – including three in a span of 34 seconds – to become the first Western Conference team to clinch a berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, their ninth consecutive postseason appearance and 62nd in franchise history.

* Elias notes that Chicago’s three markers in 34 seconds were the third-fastest trio of goals scored in franchise history, behind 21 seconds (March 23, 1952 at NYR) and 30 seconds (Oct. 15, 1983 at TOR).

* The Blackhawks (47-20-5, 99 points) extended their win streak to five games and increased their lead to seven points atop the Western Conference and Central Division standings. Chicago also moved within a point of reaching the 100-point plateau for the fourth straight season.

Jonathan Toews (2-0—2) has reached the 20-goal mark in each of his first 10 NHL seasons. Elias notes that Toews became the sixth player in Blackhawks history to reach the 20-goal mark in 10 or more seasons, joining Stan Mikita (14), Bobby Hull (13), Steve Larmer (11), Denis Savard (10) and Patrick Kane (10).

* Elias adds that Toews also joined Savard (1980-81 to 1989-90) and Kane (2007-08 to 2016-17) as the only players in franchise history to score 20 or more goals in each of their first 10 NHL seasons.

BLUE JACKETS CLINCH THIRD POSTSEASON BERTH IN FRANCHISE HISTORY
Lukas Sedlak (SHG) and Brandon Dubinsky each scored penalty shot goals to help the Blue Jackets clinch a berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, their third postseason appearance in franchise history (also 2009 and 2014).

* At 47-18-6 (100 points), the Blue Jackets reached the 100-point mark for the first time in the franchise’s 17-year history and extended their club record for wins in a season.

* Elias notes that Columbus became the third team in NHL history to score two penalty shot goals in a game, joining Vancouver (Feb. 11, 1982 at DET) and San Jose (Dec. 30, 2009 vs. WSH).

Boone Jenner (2-0—2) scored his second shorthanded goal of the season (third career). The Blue Jackets matched a franchise record with two shorthanded goals in a game, achieved Feb. 24, 2007 at NYR and March 22, 2011 at COL.

Sergei Bobrovsky (35 saves) improved to 7-0-0 in March (1.14 GAA, .963 SV%, 3 SO) and registered his League-leading 39th win of the season.

CROSBY (HAT TRICK) FIRST TO REACH 40 GOALS IN PENGUINS WIN
Sidney Crosby (3-0—3) tallied three consecutive goals to record the 10th hat trick of his NHL career and Marc-Andre Fleury (21 saves) posted his 44th career shutout as the Penguins (45-17-9, 99 points) moved to 7-1-1 in their last nine games.

* Elias notes that Crosby registered the third natural hat trick of his NHL career (all w/ PIT), two shy of the franchise record held by Mario Lemieux (5).

* Crosby (40-40—80) became the first player to reach 40 goals this season and moved into a tie with Connor McDavid (25-55—80) for the most points. Crosby reached the 40-goal mark for the second time in his NHL career (51 in 2009-10).

Jake Guentzel (0-3—3) and Conor Sheary (0-3—3) collected helpers on all three of Crosby’s goals to establish single-game career highs for assists.

* MUST SEE: Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist combined for a highlight-reel goal when they opened the scoring. Kessel flipped the puck over the Florida net to Hornqvist, who then batted it out of midair to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.

CANADIENS, FLAMES CONTINUE PUSH FOR POSTSEASON
The Canadiens (41-23-8, 90 points) and Flames (41-27-4, 86 points) each secured victories to gain ground in their respective playoff races:

Jordie Benn scored the game-winning goal to help the Canadiens sweep their home-and-home set with the Senators (39-24-8, 86 points) and open a four-point lead atop the Atlantic Division. Montreal improved to 2-1-1 against Ottawa this season (OTT: 2-1-1) and will conclude their five-game season series on Saturday at Bell Centre.

Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan each collected 1-2—3 as the Flames moved to 13-1-1 in their last 15 games and reclaimed sole possession of third place in the Pacific Division. Brian Elliott (19 saves) earned his 11th consecutive victory (1.70 GAA, .942 SV%, 2 SO) to tie the longest win streak by a goaltender in franchise history set by Mike Vernon from Jan. 17 – Feb. 27, 1989.

JAGR REACHES ANOTHER RARE MILESTONE
Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr skated in the 1,700th game of his NHL career. Jagr – who recently passed Gordie Howe for the most points by an NHL player after turning 40 years of age – became the fourth player in NHL history to skate in 1,700 career regular-season games, joining Howe (1,767), Mark Messier (1,756) and Ron Francis (1,731).

LOOSE PUCKS
Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling (22 saves) extended his personal win streak to six games (1.51 GAA, .951 SV%) . . . Travis Konecny tied the game in the final minute of regulation and Brayden Schenn scored 38 seconds into overtime to guide the Flyers to victory . . . Winnipeg surrendered a 4-0 lead, but Josh Morrissey scored the go-ahead goal at 12:43 of the third period to lift the Jets to a 5-4 win . . . Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected two assists to reach the 500-point milestone (194-306—500) . . . Wild forward Eric Staal skated in the 1,000th game of his NHL career . . . Jack Johnson (700) and Torrey Mitchell (600) also skated in milestone games . . . Elias Lindholm (3-5—8 in 7 GP) and Artemi Panarin (4-4—8 in 6 GP) each extended point streaks . . . Canadiens forward Paul Byron (1-1—2) reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career.

SNEAK PEEK AT MONDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Boston @ Toronto, 7:30 p.m., TVAS, TSN4, NESN
Buffalo @ Detroit, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, FS-D
Arizona @ Nashville, 8 p.m., FS-TN, FS-A
San Jose @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., FS-SW, CSN-CA
Los Angeles @ Edmonton, 9 p.m., SNW, FS-W
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