The Chicago Blackhawks rallied to beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Sunday to become the first team to secure an NHL playoff spot this season.
Rookie Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews scored 55 seconds apart midway through the third period as the Blackhawks defeated the Predators for the second time in two. Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored for Chicago, and Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal.
Shea Weber and Nick Spaling each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who are in 13th place in the Western Conference with 38 points, five behind eighth-place Detroit at the postseason cutoff.
Buffalo’s Nathan Gerbe scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Sabres a 3-2 victory over New Jersey that extended the Devils’ losing streak to seven games.
Ryan Miller stopped 37 shots through overtime and all three shootout attempts — including a victory-clinching glove save on Travis Zajac.
Steve Ott extended his goal streak to three games, and Patrick Kaleta also scored for Buffalo, who won their third straight.
At San Jose, California, Jamie Benn scored the lone goal in the shootout and Kari Lehtonen stopped all three attempts as the Dallas Stars ended the Sharks’ seven-game winning streak with a 5-4 victory.
Alex Chiasson started the rally from a two-goal deficit in the third period when he scored his second goal of the game and Loui Erickson tied it for the Stars, who have won two straight following a three-game losing streak. Eric Nystrom also scored and Lehtonen made 32 saves through overtime for Dallas.
St Louis goalie Brian Elliott made 28 saves for his 19th career shutout and Chris Porter scored the game’s only goal in the Blues’ 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
Porter scored his second goal of the season off a goalmouth scramble with 3 minutes and 32 seconds remaining in the second period. Elliott earned his first shutout of the season.
In other games, the Minnesota Wild blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0, the Washington Capitals downed the Tampa Bay Lighting 4-2, the Anaheim Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in a shootout and the Florida Panthers were 1-0 winners over the Ottawa Senators.