NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Danny Cleary tipped in Brian Rafalski’s shot 2:58 into overtime for Detroit’s fourth unanswered goal, leading the Red Wings to a 4-3 win over Nashville on Saturday that clinched their 20th straight playoff berth.
Justin Abdelkader had two goals, and Jakub Kindl also scored as Detroit improved to 2-3-2 in its last seven games. Rafalski finished with two assists and Jimmy Howard stopped 31 shots in his first game back after missing two with a strained left shoulder.
The Red Wings extended the longest active playoff streak among North America’s four major professional sports. They also got to 100 points for an 11th straight season, extending their NHL record.
Ryan Suter had a power-play goal and an assist, Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat scored, and Mike Fisher had two assists for Nashville. The second-place Predators blew a chance to pull within two points of Detroit in the Central Division with a week left in the season, allowing the Red Wings to leave town with a comfortable five-point cushion.
Elsewhere in the NHL it was: Edmonton 4, Vancouver 1; Montreal 3, New Jersey 1; Toronto 4, Ottawa 2; Boston 3, Atlanta 2; Carolina 4, N.Y. Islanders 2; Washington 5, Buffalo 4 (OT); Los Angeles 3, Dallas 1; Tampa Bay 3, Minnesota 1; Pittsburgh 4, Florida 2; and San Jose 4, Anaheim 2.
BOSTON (AP)—Michael Ryder scored on a penalty shot with 7:29 left to break a third-period tie and help the Bruins clinch the Northeast Division title.
Ryder stole the puck from Thrashers defenceman Zach Bogosian at centre ice and was racing in alone on the goal when he was slashed by Atlanta’s Johnny Oduya before he got to the crease. Ryder was given a penalty shot and he slowly made his way toward Ondrej Pavelec before wristing it over the goalie’s left shoulder.
Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots for Boston, which leads Montreal by 10 points with four games left.
Pavelec made 20 saves for the Thrashers, who were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—The New Jersey Devils will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
Mathieu Darche scored twice, Carey Price made 20 saves and Montreal Canadiens ended the Devils’ run of making the last 13 post-season.
P.K. Subban also scored and former Devils star Brian Gionta set up both of Darche’s goals as the Canadiens inched closer to clinching a playoff berth with their second win in six games.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Devils with 5:59 to play, preventing Carey Price from posting his ninth shutout of the season.
This is only the third time in 23 seasons the Devils have missed the playoffs.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP)—Erik Cole snapped a tie 6:04 into the third period for Carolina, which beat the New York Islanders and moved within one point of eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Joe Corvo, Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal also scored, and Cam Ward made 30 saves for the surging Hurricanes, who scored three goals in the third period. They have won seven of 10 to move one point behind the New York Rangers. Both teams have four games remaining.
Jesse Joensuu and John Tavares had Islanders goals. Al Montoya stopped 22 shots, but couldn’t protect New York’s 2-1 lead in the third period.
WASHINGTON (AP)—Alex Ovechkin scored 3:19 into overtime, and Washington beat Buffalo to take over the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Ovechkin took a shot from the left circle that glanced off the skate of Buffalo defenceman Andrej Sekera and past goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
The Capitals have 103 points, one more than idle Philadelphia. Washington has two games left and the Flyers have three.
Twice in the final nine minutes of regulation, the Sabres took a one-goal lead with a power-play goal. On each occasion, Washington scored the tying goal with the extra man.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)—Devin Setoguchi scored the tiebreaking goal on the power play with 5:21 remaining and San Jose rallied from an early two-goal deficit too beat Anaheim.
Patrick Marleau scored twice and Dany Heatley added his 25th goal for the Sharks, who trailed 2-0 after one period before coming back for their seventh win in eight games. San Jose remained a point ahead of Detroit for second place in the Western Conference with four games remaining, reaching the 100-point mark for the fifth consecutive season.
Bobby Ryan and Lubomir Visnovsky scored for the Ducks, who had won seven of eight to move into seventh place in the conference. Ray Emery made 29 saves but lost for the first time in seven starts this season.
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Matt Greene scored the go-ahead goal in the third period to help Los Angeles move one step closer to a playoff berth.
Thanks to Greene’s second goal of the season, the Kings need just one win in their final four games to secure a second straight playoff appearance.
Wayne Simmonds had a goal and an assist, Dustin Brown tallied and Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots for Los Angeles, which improved to 9-2-1 in its last 12.
The victory also pushed the Kings into a tie with idle Phoenix for the fourth spot in the Western Conference.
Brad Richards scored his 26th goal and Kari Lehtonen had 29 saves for Dallas, which continued its late-season collapse. The Stars have dropped six straight, and likely will miss the post-season for a third straight year.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)—Dwayne Roloson stopped 29 shots against his old team and the Lightning earned their fourth consecutive win.
Ryan Malone, Steve Downie and Sean Bergenheim scored for playoff-bound Tampa Bay, which pulled within a point of Pittsburgh for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins played at Florida later.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored and Niklas Backstrom had 20 saves for the Wild, who were eliminated from post-season contention.
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)—Pittsburgh defenceman Zbynek Michalek scored with 7:49 left and the Penguins handed Florida its eighth consecutive loss.
Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis also scored for the Penguins, who solidified their hold on fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Jordan Staal had three assists, and Craig Adams scored an empty-net goal with 1:30 remaining.
Brent Johnson stopped 28 shots for Pittsburgh, which swept Florida in a season series for the first time.
Jack Skille and Clay Wilson scored for the Panthers, who are on their worst skid since a 12-game slide during the 2005-06 season (0-8-4). The Panthers haven’t won since beating Toronto 4-0 on March 17.
Scott Clemmensen, making his fourth consecutive start in place of injured Tomas Vokoun (back), made 30 saves.
OTTAWA (AP)—Tyler Bozak had a power-play goal 5:42 into the third period and Nikolai Kulemin added a goal as Toronto stayed alive in the playoff race with a win over Ottawa.
Phil Kessel reached 30 goals for a third season in a row and Nazem Kadri also scored for 10th-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs, who have three games left, are three points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers.
James Reimer, the NHL rookie of the month for March, made 23 saves. He has been credited with each of Toronto’s last 15 wins.
Jason Spezza scored two goals for Ottawa. His second made it 2-2 at 3:03 of the third period.
VANCOUVER—Kurtis Foster and Jordan Eberle scored power-play goals just over six minutes apart, Devan Dubnyk made 40 saves, and Edmonton beat Vancouver.
Linus Omark and Magnus Paajarvi also scored as the last-place Oilers snapped an 11-game winless streak (0-8-3) by handing the NHL-leading Canucks their first loss in six games.
Alex Burrows scored and Cory Schneider made 30 saves for Vancouver, which came out slow a game after clinching the league’s best record for the first time. It was the second loss in 14 games for the Canucks, who came in leading the NHL in goals, goals against, and both special teams.
The rebuilding Oilers avoided—at least for one day—a loss that would have assured them a last-place finish in the 30-team league.