ST. LOUIS – An epic collapse has left the Toronto Maple Leafs out of the playoff picture—again.
Cam Ward stopped 32 shots for his 21st shutout and Carolina eliminated Toronto from playoff contention with a 3-0 win Tuesday, extending the Leafs’ franchise-worst streak to seven seasons without playoff hockey.
The Maple Leafs fell to 33-35-9 after being shut out for the seventh time this season. Four of those have come in the past 10 games. After its last home victory Feb. 6, the Maple Leafs were sixth in the conference but they’ve gone 5-16-3 since.
It was only fitting that the final blow came on home ice. Hours after new coach Randy Carlyle called the team’s play at Air Canada Centre “unacceptable,” it dug another early hole and lost its 10th straight game in front of the disgruntled home fans—setting yet another franchise mark for futility.
“The thing is we haven’t done anything good really,” said forward Phil Kessel. “It’s frustrating for all of us. We’re all disappointed obviously. We wish we could win games.
“I don’t really know what to think.”
Jussi Jokinen, Tim Brent and Jay Harrison scored goals for Carolina, which kept its slim playoff hopes alive for one more day. The Hurricanes are nine points out of the playoff cutoff with only six games remaining.
BLUES 3 PREDATORS 0
ST. LOUIS (AP)—Brian Elliott made 24 saves for his third straight shutout and Jamie Langenbrunner broke a scoreless tie in the second period to lead the Blues over Nashville.
St. Louis, which improved to 30-4-4 at home, has an NHL-leading 105 points—two ahead of the New York Rangers in the battle for the President’s Trophy. St. Louis leads Vancouver by four points in the Western Conference standings.
Elliott improved to 23-9-3 with his league-leading ninth shutout. He has not allowed a goal in a franchise-record 186:33, eclipsing the old mark of 186:15 set by Manny Legace from Dec.28, 2007 to Jan. 28, 2008.
Nashville, which needs one point to earn a playoff spot, snapped a two-game winning streak.
David Perron and T.J. Oshie added third-period goals for the Blues. Perron scored his 17th of the season at 4:47 and Oshie got his 19th to make it 3-0 with 4 minutes to go.
Oshie also assisted on Perron’s goal and David Backes added two assists.
RANGERS 3, WILD 2
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)—Ruslan Fedotenko scored the go-ahead goal in the third period as New York beat Minnesota for some more space in the tightened Eastern Conference playoff race.
Marian Gaborik also scored, frustrating the fans of his former team, and Brian Boyle had a goal for the Rangers, who won for the third time in their last nine road games. They’re now 6-6 in their last 12 games and lead Pittsburgh by three points in the Atlantic Division.
Kyle Brodziak and Mikko Koivu scored power-play goals for the Wild, but Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was otherwise his normally stellar self with 24 saves.
Wild goalie Josh Harding had 29 saves.
ISLANDERS 5, PENGUINS 3
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Frans Nielsen scored twice and the Islanders won in Pittsburgh for the first time in more than four years.
Michael Grabner, David Ullstrom and Kyle Okposo also scored, and Josh Bailey had three assists to help the Islanders end Pittsburgh’s 10-game home winning streak.
James Neal scored twice for the Penguins—who outshot the Islanders 54-25—and Tyler Kennedy added a goal. Marc-Andre Fleury gave up five goals on 18 shots before being replaced in the third by Brad Thiessen and Evgeni Malkin had two assists to boost his NHL-leading point total to 99. The Penguins trail the Rangers by three points in the Atlantic Division.
BRUINS 5, LIGHTNING 2
BOSTON (AP)—Benoit Pouliot scored the tie-breaking goal midway through the third period, Zdeno Chara had three assists and Boston beat Tampa Bay.
The Bruins won their third straight game despite two goals by Steven Stamkos, who leads the NHL with 55. Tampa Bay’s three-game winning streak ended.
The Bruins, 5-1 after losing four straight, moved five points ahead of the second-place Ottawa in the Northeast Division with 93 points and a game in hand.
Shawn Thornton and Brad Marchand also had goals, and Rich Peverley added an empty-netter with seven seconds remaining.
DEVILS 2, BLACKHAWKS 1, SO
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias scored in a shootout, and Martin Brodeur made 37 saves and stopped four of five shooters to lead New Jersey over Chicago.
Brodeur made a sprawling stop on Andrew Shaw to end the contest and give New Jersey a four-point lead on Ottawa in the race for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Zajac, who returned to the lineup Sunday after sitting out with an Achilles’ tendon injury, snapped a shot over Corey Crawford for the winner in the shootout.
Brent Seabrook scored for Chicago midway through the third period to tie it after Petr Sykora gave the Devils the lead with 4:18 left in the opening period.
PANTHERS 3, CANADIENS 2, SO
MONTREAL (AP)—Wojtek Wolski scored in regulation and added the only goal of the shootout to help Florida boost its playoff hopes with a win over Montreal.
Mikael Samuelsson also scored in regulation for Florida, which outshot Montreal 36-29. The Panthers ended a three-game winless streak and completed a four-game sweep of the season series with Montreal.
The win, combined with Washington’s 5-1 loss at Buffalo, gave the Panthers a five-point lead over the Capitals for first place in the Southeast Division, with a game in hand.
Erik Cole and Louis Leblanc scored for the already-eliminated Canadiens.
SABRES 5, CAPITALS 1
WASHINGTON (AP)—Ryan Miller stopped 44 shots, Drew Stafford scored two goals and surging Buffalo beat Washington to climb over the Capitals into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
It was the fifth straight win for the Sabres, their longest streak since a six-game run in 2009-2010. Buffalo was in 14th place on Feb. 17 before going on a 14-2-4 tear.
Cody McCormick, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek also scored for the Sabres, and Miller improved 14-1-3 over his last 18 games, allowing only 32 goals in that span.
Alexander Semin scored for Washington.