Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday's NHL action: Flames earn key win

Salvation for Calgary
A win over Colorado wouldn't have guaranteed anything for Calgary, including a spot in the top eight, but a loss might've crippled it. An Avalanche victory would've put the Flames four points behind with four to play.

Fortunately for the Flames, they don't have to face that situation. Miikka Kiprusoff made 35 saves, including a number of dandy ones late, and Calgary held off Colorado, 2-1 in regulation, to tie the Avalanche with 89 points. Colorado has one more win and a game in hand and thus is still in eighth, but it's feeling the heat.

Nigel Dawes and Rene Bourque scored for Calgary. T.J. Galiardi scored for Colorado, which out-shot the Flames 12-4 in the third period.

In the shootout
--Kris Versteeg tied the score at 1-1 with 26 seconds remaining and Chicago came back to beat New Jersey, 2-1. Jonathan Toews had the only goal in the tiebreaker and Antti Niemi made 32 saves.
--Vancouver gave up three power play goals, including one that made the score 4-4 with 1:24 left in regulation but recovered to beat Anaheim, 5-4. Michael Grabner had a hat trick for the Canucks. Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu had two goals and an assist each for the Ducks.

Clean sheets
--Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves and Tomas Plekanec scored the only goal in Montreal's 1-0 victory over reeling Philadelphia. The Canadiens have 84 points, four more than Atlanta and the Rangers, while the Flyers are just two ahead of those teams.
--The Rangers reached 80 points by blitzing Tampa Bay with four first-period goals in support of Henrik Lundqvist's 30 saves in a 5-0 win.

--Logan Couture broke a 2-2 tie with 3:51 remaining and San Jose mathematically eliminated Minnesota from playoff contention, 3-2.
--Jamie Benn scored twice and added an assist as Dallas doubled up Edmonton, 6-3, to keep alive its slim playoff hopes.

Marquee matchup
Saturday, April 3 (11 games)
-Nashville (45-28-6) at Detroit (41-23-13), 2 p.m. ET. Both teams can essentially clinch a playoff spot but only the Predators officially can. If Detroit wins, the Red Wings will have 97 points. The most Calgary can get is 97 but the wins tiebreaker would still be up for grabs.

Playoff-bubble teams in action: Atlanta (at Pittsburgh), Carolina (against New Jersey), Montreal (against Buffalo), Boston (at Toronto), the Rangers (at Florida); Dallas (at St. Louis), Anaheim (at Los Angeles.)

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