PHILADELPHIA – Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov scored as part of a four-goal first period, and the New York Rangers clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 1994 with a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
The Rangers are tops in the East for the first time since Mark Messier led them to their last Stanley Cup championship 18 years ago. The Rangers, who lead the overall NHL standings with 109 points, are assured of home-ice advantage until at least the Stanley Cup finals.
The Rangers are atop the East thanks to a stunning series sweep of the Atlantic Division-rival Flyers. They went 6-0 against Philadelphia for the first time in 40 years.
Ryan McDonagh and Brian Boyle also scored to help the Rangers storm to a 4-0 lead. Marian Gaborik added his 41st goal, and Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves in earning his career-best 39th victory.
Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Scott Hartnell had goals for the Flyers. Ilya Bryzgalov made 19 saves in his return after missing three games because of a chip fracture in his right foot.
CANUCKS 5, DUCKS 4, SO
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Max Lapierre’s shootout goal lifted Vancouver over Anaheim, and gave the Canucks their seventh straight win and a share of first place atop the NHL standings with the New York Rangers.
Western Conference-leading Vancouver moved three points ahead of St. Louis and remained tied with New York, which clinched the No. 1 seed in the East. Both clubs have an NHL-best 109 points with two games remaining in the regular season.
Alex Burrows had two goals in regulation, and Lapierre and Chris Higgins also scored as the Canucks rallied from two goals down in the second period.
Ryan Getzlaf, Cory Perry, Rod Pelley and Devante Smith-Pelly scored for the Ducks.
Vancouver outshot Anaheim 39-34. The Canucks were 0 for 5 on the power play, and the Ducks went 1 for 3.
SABRES 6, MAPLE LEAFS 5, OT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—Derek Roy scored a power-play goal 3:29 into overtime to cap a frantic comeback that kept Buffalo’s playoff hopes firmly alive with a win over the Toronto.
Alexander Sulzer had two goals and an assist, and Jordan Leopold forced overtime by scoring with 1:53 left in regulation for the Sabres, who trailed 3-0 in the first period. Buffalo snapped a two-game skid and pulled even with eighth-place Washington in the Eastern Conference.
Both teams have two games left, though the Capitals hold the tiebreaker edge.
Tyler Bozak had two goals and an assist, Phil Kessel had three assists, and Matt Frattin had a goal and assist for Toronto.
JETS 5, PANTHERS 4, OT
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)—Andrew Ladd scored two goals, including the winner 3:12 into overtime, to give Winnipeg a victory over Florida that prevented the Panthers from clinching the Southeast Division title.
Bryan Little, Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane also scored for the Jets, and Ondrej Pavelec stopped 34 shots.
Tomas Kopecky, Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg and Marco Sturm had goals for Florida, and Jose Theodore made 25 saves. Fleischmann and Versteeg both had an assist.
The Panthers, who led 3-0, missed a chance to clinch the division and secure their first playoff berth since 2000, but they need only one point in their final two games to hold off Washington.
HURRICANES 2, SENATORS 1
OTTAWA (AP)—Brandon Sutter and Tuomo Ruutu scored in the second period, and Cam Ward made 38 saves to lead Carolina past Ottawa.
Jason Spezza scored with 13 seconds left in the third period to spoil Ward’s shutout bid.
The Hurricanes, long out of post-season contention, ensured the playoff-bound Senators can finish no higher than seventh in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa still needs one point in its final two games to clinch seventh and set up a first-round playoff meeting with Boston Bruins.
Sutter’s shot from the left side found its way into the net at 1:33 after Senators goalie Craig Anderson—who made 29 saves—got a piece of the puck but not quite enough.
Ruutu made it 2-0 when he redirected Jussi Jokinen’s point shot from the slot past Anderson with 2:06 to go in the period with the Hurricanes on the power play.
PENGUINS 5, BRUINS 3
BOSTON (AP)—Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist, James Neal scored the go-ahead goal on a power play, and Pittsburgh beat Boston.
In Pittsburgh’s first game since a late brawl Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers, Crosby gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead 7:41 in. He made it 4-2 with 1:11 left in the second period with his club’s second power-play goal in 48 seconds.
The Penguins have a three-point lead over Philadelphia in the race for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins, who clinched the Northeast Division title on Sunday night, are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
Paul Martin and Arron Asham scored Pittsburgh’s other goals. Benoit Pouliot, Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley scored for Boston.
SHARKS 5, STARS 2
DALLAS (AP)—Logan Couture’s power-play goal put San Jose in front late in the second after T.J. Galiardi got the tying goal earlier in the period, and the Sharks beat Dallas in a matchup of teams fighting to make the Western Conference playoffs.
Antti Niemi stopped 29 shots, and Daniel Winnik, Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe also scored for the Sharks. San Jose improved to 92 points to remain in the conference’s top eight, three points better than ninth-place Dallas.
Niemi denied Dallas’ Jamie Benn on a breakaway with about 5:20 left to preserve the lead, and Thornton’s 17th of the season with 4:50 remaining gave San Jose a two-goal pad.
Brenden Morrow and Alex Goligoski had goals for Dallas, which got 21 saves from Kari Lehtonen.
COYOTES 2, BLUE JACKETS 0
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)—Mike Smith stopped 54 shots and earned his third straight shutout in Phoenix’s victory over Columbus.
Boyd Gordon and Gilbert Brule scored 2:03 apart in the second period to provide the only offence Smith needed. Phoenix is seventh in the Western Conference and leads San Jose by one point with two games remaining.
Smith extended his scoreless streak to 219 minutes, 59 seconds, and posted his eighth shutout of the season and his 19th in the NHL. Smith (36-18-10) survived seven Columbus power plays and tied the franchise’s single-season shutout mark set by Nikolai Khabibulin in the 1998-99 season and matched by Ilya Bryzgalov in 2009-10.
DEVILS 3, ISLANDERS 1
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—Travis Zajac broke a tie early in the second period with a power-play goal and New Jersey inched closer to nailing down at least the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference with a victory over the New York Islanders.
Patrik Elias added a goal and an assist, and Ilya Kovalchuk scored into an empty net in the final minute to help the Devils win their third straight. Johan Hedberg had 19 saves in just his second start in 12 games.
Matt Moulson scored for the Islanders, who have lost three straight. John Tavares earned the 200th assist of his three-season NHL career.
The win didn’t come without a price for the Devils, who lost second-year centre Jacob Josefson for 4-to-6 weeks with a broken left wrist.
PREDATORS 2, WILD 1, SO
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Alexander Radulov scored the lone goal in the shootout, and Nashville edged Minnesota to reach 100 points for the second time in three seasons.
The Predators, who have two games left, moved back into fourth place in the Western Conference—one point over idle Detroit and two over Chicago.
Backup goalie Anders Lindback started over Pekka Rinne, who was a healthy scratch to rest for the playoffs. Lindback stopped all three attempts in his first career shootout and 25 shots overall for his fourth win this season.
Gabriel Bourque also scored for Nashville, which took the season series 3-1.
Dany Heatley had the lone goal for Minnesota.