Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin (71) celebrates after scoring in the first period against the Nashville Predators during an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, March 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Evgeni Malkin scored twice, James Neal had four assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched a playoff spot with a 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis also scored to help Pittsburgh pull within a point of the New York Rangers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with nine games remaining. Marc-Andre Fluery made 29 saves for his NHL-leading 40th victory.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby was held without a goal for the 12th straight game and failed to score a point, but it hardly stopped the Penguins from winning their ninth straight home game.
Nashville's Alexander Radulov scored in his return to the NHL after four years in Russia, but the Penguins picked apart Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. The league saves leader allowed two goals in the first 5 minutes.
CANUCKS 2, STARS 1
DALLAS (AP)—Cory Schneider stopped Mike Ribeiro's penalty shot and finished with 25 saves, and Mason Raymond and Kevin Bieksa scored in Vancouver's victory over Dallas.
The Canucks were without Daniel Sedin, the team leader with 30 goals, sidelined indefinitely because of a head injury. Sedin is back in Vancouver after taking an elbow to the head from Chicago's Duncan Keith in the first period of the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win over the Canucks on Wednesday night.
Vernon Fiddler scored for Dallas.
WILD 3, FLAMES 2, SO
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)—Devin Setoguchi scored in the fourth round of a shootout in Minnesota's comeback victory over Calgary.
Dany Heatley and Darroll Powe scored in regulation for the Wild. Josh Harding stopped 27 shots and all four Calgary shots in the shootout to hand the Flames their fourth straight loss
Lee Stempniak and Anton Babchuk scored for Calgary, which failed to gain ground in the race for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Powe tied it at 2 with 7:37 left in the third when his shot trickled over the goal line. Officials originally ruled no-goal, but changed the call after a replay review.
Setoguchi beat Miikka Kipprusoff with a wrist shot on the stick side, and Harding stopped Blake Comeau to seal the victory.
LIGHTNING 3, OILERS 2, SO
TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Teddy Purcell scored in the sixth round of a shootout, and Tom Pyatt had two goals in regulation in Tampa Bay's victory over Edmonton.
Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis also scored in the extra session.
Ladislav Smid pulled Edmonton even at 2 with 3:47 left in regulation with his first goal in 38 games.
Linus Omark also scored for the Oilers. It was the first time that Edmonton's Nikolai Khabibulin, who stopped 19 shots, played in Tampa since Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals, when he helped the Lightning beat Calgary 2-1 to win the team's only NHL championship.
FLYERS 2, CAPITALS 1, SO
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds scored shootout goals to lift Philadelphia past Washington.
Claude Giroux scored his 27th goal for the Flyers, and Alex Ovechkin had his 33rd for the Capitals.
Read scored on the first shot of the shootout against Braden Holtby, and Matt Hendricks beat Ilya Bryzgalov on Washington's first attempt. Giroux and Ovechkin were both denied and another round came up empty for both teams. Simmonds scored, and Bryzgalov stuffed Troy Brouwer to preserve the win.
Bryzgalov stopped 30 shots and improved to 9-1-1 with a 1.23 goals-against average in March.
The Capitals did pick up a point and have 81, putting them one ahead of Buffalo for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
KINGS 1, BLUES 0, SO
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Jonathan Quick held his own in a brilliant goaltending duel with Brian Elliott, posting his franchise record-tying eighth shutout of the season for Los Angeles, and Jeff Carter had the deciding goal in the fourth round of a shootout against St. Louis.
The Kings took over first place in the Pacific Division with their season-high sixth straight victory, though they are tied in points with Phoenix.
Quick matched Rogie Vachon's shutout mark from 1976-77 and pushed his career total to 23.
Elliott made 37 saves for his eighth shutout of the season and 16th of his career.
COYOTES 3, AVALANCHE 2
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)—Mike Smith made 39 saves for his 100th NHL victory, and Daymond Langkow, Kyle Chipchura and Raffi Torres scored to help Phoenix beat Colorado.
Langkow and Chipchura scored in the first period and Torres made it 3-0 late in the second. Ryan O'Reilly spoiled Smith's shutout bid 4:28 into the third, and Paul Stastny added his 20th of the season with 5:39 left.
Smith is 33-18-9 this season, and 100-84-28 in six seasons with Dallas, Tampa Bay and Phoenix.
The Coyotes played without captain Shane Doan, suspended for three games for elbowing Dallas' Jamie Benn on Tuesday night. Doan also will forfeit $166,000 in salary.
SHARKS 2, BRUINS 1
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)—Daniel Winnik scored his first goal with San Jose to give the Sharks' playoff hopes a needed boost with a victory over defending Stanley Cup champion Boston.
Joe Pavelski scored early in the first period to let San Jose play from ahead and Winnik added insurance early in the third when he ended his 43-game drought without a goal. Antti Niemi made 16 saves.
The Bruins, coming off an 8-0 win Monday night against Toronto, didn't get on the board until Zdeno Chara scored with 4:15 remaining to cut the deficit to 2-1. They couldn't get any more and dropped their fourth straight road game—their longest skid since December 2009. Boston remained three points ahead of idle Ottawa for the Northeast Division lead with one game in hand.
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