Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bruins stamp ticket; Canadiens back in

Two more playoff spots filled
Philadelphia and New York, you're on the clock.

Boston has learned the trick to scoring goals, and the Bruins are in the playoffs because of it. Boston made NHL history by becoming the first team to score an incredible three shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill, doing it in a span of 64 seconds, early in the second period and held on for a 4-2 victory over Carolina to clinch at worst the seventh seed in the East.

Once Montreal lost in overtime later Saturday, Boston sealed the sixth seed and will play either New Jersey or Buffalo in the first round. The latter teams play Sunday to determine who finishes second.

With Matt Hunwick in the penalty box after taking a hooking minor with 18 seconds left in the first, the Bruins erupted out of the gate in the second period, getting shorthanded tallies by Daniel Paille, Blake Wheeler and Steve Begin.

Erik Cole and Patrick Dwyer scored for Carolina late in the second period. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron made a great play to avert an own-goal when Tuukka Rask was pulled during a delayed penalty call on Carolina. Milan Lucic added an empty net goal that sent Jack Edwards into hysterics. (Check YouTube and see if his call at the end of the game is on there. It's worth it. Trust me.)

Rask finished with 33 saves.

The Canadiens needed just one point to clinch a playoff spot, and one is all they got. Christian Hanson scored his second goal of the game shorthanded to tie the score at 3-3, then he helped set up Dion Phaneuf's game-winner in overtime as Toronto defeated Montreal, 4-3. The Canadiens will be the seventh or eighth seed depending on the New York-Philadelphia game.

Andrei Markov had a goal and two assists for Montreal.

Atlantic Division decided
Patrik Elias scored twice, Zach Parise had a goal and two assists and New Jersey routed the Islanders, 7-1. Coupled with Pittsburgh's 1-0 loss to Atlanta on Johan Hedberg's 33 saves and Bryan Little's goal, the Devils wrapped up the Atlantic Division title. New Jersey is one point ahead of Buffalo for second place. Pittsburgh finishes fourth and plays Ottawa in the first round for the third time in four years.

In the shootout
--Devan Dubnyk made a whopping 52 saves and Edmonton survived blowing a 3-0 third period lead to knock off Los Angeles, 4-3 in a shootout.
--Steven Stamkos scored goals 49 and 50, added another in the tiebreaker and Tampa Bay defeated Florida, 4-3. Stamkos also had an assist.
--Pekka Rinne fended off 33 shots and Nashville earned a 2-1 win over St. Louis.
--As far as classy moves go, few are better than Minnesota naming Mike Modano first star of the game after Dallas earned a 4-3 victory. I've loved criticizing the Three Stars selections from the X but I give full props for this one, plus the crowd reaction. Honestly, I was hoping players would start taking dives so Modano could get a gift-wrapped goal to break a tied score. Ah well. In the game, Steve Ott scored twice for the Stars, as did Mikko Koivu for the Wild.
--Evgeni Nabokov's 27 saves helped San Jose defeated Phoenix, 3-2.

--Thomas Vanek erupted for four goals after missing several games with an injury, causing fantasy owners everywhere to buy Vanek voodoo dolls after his injury likely derailed many a fantasy playoff run, and Buffalo beat Ottawa, 5-2.
--Daniel Sedin netted a hat trick and added an assist, Henrik Sedin posted four helpers to reclaim the scoring lead - which he'll likely lose to Ovechkin - and Vancouver routed Calgary, 7-3.

Marquee matchups
Sunday, April 11 (8 games)
The last day of the regular season has eight games, one of vital importance, one of moderate importance, and one that might still be pretty good since there are some things on the line.

-Detroit (43-24-14) at Chicago (52-22-7), 3 p.m. ET. A win gives the Blackhawks the top seed in the West. Detroit can finish as high as the fifth seed with a win and a Kings loss, or the Wings can finish as low as seventh.

-NY Rangers (38-33-10) at Philadelphia (40-35-6), 3 p.m. Simple. Whoever wins qualifies for the playoffs. No "win in regulation" or "get it to overtime." Just win, baby.

-Buffalo (45-26-10) at New Jersey (47-27-7), 5 p.m. Second place in the East is on the line. Currently the Devils hold it by a one-point margin. The Sabres need a regulation win to leapfrog New Jersey.

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