NHL: Islanders clinch a playoff spot

STANLEY CUP SCRAMBLE::New York claimed a playoff spot when the Winnipeg Jets lost to the Capitals, while the Blues and the Sharks also grabbed post-season berths

AP, RALEIGH, North Carolina

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 - Page 18

The New York Islanders clinched an Eastern Conference playoff spot, despite a 4-3 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, while the Washington Capitals claimed the Southeast Division title with a win over the Winnipeg Jets.

With the point they received by reaching overtime, coupled with a loss by the Jets in Washington, the Islanders secured a place in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

John Tavares leveled the scores with 1 minute, 1 second left in regulation. Josh Bailey and Brad Boyes also scored, while Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves for the Islanders.

Riley Nash and Jeff Skinner scored in the shootout to give the Hurricanes the victory.

Washington conceded a two-goal lead, survived a pair of replay reviews and exhaled deeply when defensemen John Erskine cleared two shots off the goal-line en route to a 5-3 win over the Jets.

They also had to kill a late power play, but they held on to win for the 10th time in 11 games.

Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 31st goal — an empty-netter in the final minute — while Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Nicklas Backstrom and Mathieu Perreault also scored. Braden Holtby made 24 saves.

In St Louis, Missouri, Chris Stewart reached career milestones of 100 goals and 100 assists as the Blues downed the Colorado Avalanche to clinch a playoff berth with two games to spare.

The Blues have made the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2003-2004. They have won four in a row at home to match their season best.

The San Jose Sharks clinched their ninth straight playoff berth with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.

Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski scored goals 30 seconds apart late in the third period, while Raffi Torres also scored for the Sharks, who moved into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Kings with two games remaining in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Sharks visit the Kings in the season finale on Saturday.

Florida’s Marcel Goc and Drew Shore scored third-period goals as the Panthers edged the Rangers 3-2 to prevent New York from clinching an Eastern Conference playoff berth.

The Rangers, who had won three straight, have a one-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets with two games left.

Patrik Elias scored his 375th NHL goal and Martin Brodeur made 19 saves for his 669th victory as the New Jersey Devils beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2.

The New Jersey Devils, who were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday, dealt a blow to Montreal’s hopes of winning the Northeast Division.

Matt Read and Oliver Lauridsen scored goals seven seconds apart for Philadelphia in the Flyers’ 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins.

Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek and Simon Gagne also scored for the Flyers, who failed to make the playoffs this season.

The Flyers paid tribute to Boston in the Bruins’ first road game since the Boston Marathon bombings.

In other games, Thomas Vanek scored twice and Ryan Miller stopped 40 shots as the Buffalo Sabres topped the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2; the Minnesota Wild broke their five-game home losing streak by hanging on for a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings; and the Nashville Predators beat the Calgary Flames 4-3.