Panthers blanks Sens, secure NHL’s best record, home ice

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Carter Verhaeghe scored twice and Spencer Knight stopped 27 shots for his second career shutout as the Florida Panthers beat the Ottawa Senators 4-0 on Thursday night.

With the victory and Nashville’s 5-4 shootout win over Western Conference-leading Colorado (56-18-7), the Panthers (58-17-6) clinched their first Presidents’ Trophy for the best record in the regular season and home ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett also...

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OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Carter Verhaeghe scored twice and Spencer Knight stopped 27 shots for his second career shutout as the Florida Panthers beat the Ottawa Senators 4-0 on Thursday night.

With the victory and Nashville’s 5-4 shootout win over Western Conference-leading Colorado (56-18-7), the Panthers (58-17-6) clinched their first Presidents’ Trophy for the best record in the regular season and home ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett also scored for Florida, which halted Ottawa’s four-game winning streak.

Filip Gustavsson made 26 saves for Ottawa.

PREDATORS 5, AVALANCHE 4, SO

DENVER (AP) — Matt Duchene scored the lone goal of the shootout and David Rittich stopped all three attempts as Nashville rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat Colorado.

Duchene also scored in regulation, along with Ryan Johansen, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm to help the Predators move into the first wild-card spot with a game remaining.

Rittich stopped 42 shots as he stepped in for injured goaltender Juuse Saros. Rittich came up big in the shootout, thwarting Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri.

Cale Makar, Logan O’Connor, Artturi Lehkonen and J.T. Compher scored for Colorado, the top seed in the Western Conference. By gaining a point, the Avalanche now have 119 and broke the franchise mark (118) held by the 2000-01 team that went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Colorado’s shootout loss allowed the Florida Panthers to secure the Presidents’ Trophy and home ice throughout their playoff run.

Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves for the Avalanche.

HURRICANES 6, DEVILS 3

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Jesperi Kotkaniemi had a goal and two assists and Carolina closed out a record-setting season with a victory over New Jersey.

The Metropolitan Division-champion Hurricanes added to their franchise records for wins (54) and points (116) in a season.

Ethan Bear, Martin Necas, Teuvo Teravainen, Steven Lorentz and Jordan Martinook also scored for the Hurricanes, who will carry a six-game winning streak into the playoffs.

Carolina goalie Antti Raanta made 27 saves.

Fabian Zetterlund, Jesper Bratt and Jimmy Vesey scored for the Devils. Pavel Zacha had two assists and Andrew Hammond stopped 30 shots.

BRUINS 5, SABRES 0

BOSTON (AP) — Patrice Bergeron recorded his eighth career hat trick and his 400th NHL goal, and David Pastrnak ended Boston’s 0-for-39 power-play slump with his 40th goal of the season to lead the Bruins past Buffalo.

It was already 4-0 when Bergeron gathered in a pass from Charlie McAvoy in the center and wristed it into the net with 2:13 remaining for his third of the game. Hats came flying over the glass, and the Bruins hugged their captain, jumping up and down on their skates.

Linus Ullmark made 37 saves against his former team for his first shutout of the season as he tries to win the job as No. 1 goaltender for the playoffs.

Dustin Tokarski stopped 27 shots for the Sabres, who will miss the playoffs for the 11th straight season.

WILD 3, FLAMES 2, OT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Kirill Kaprizov scored a power play goal 44 seconds into overtime to give Minnesota a win over Calgary.

With the victory, the Wild take over sole possession of second place in the Central Division. Minnesota leads St. Louis by two points with each team having one game remaining on Friday. If the Wild pick up any points in their game against Colorado or if the Blues lose at home to Vegas, Minnesota will have home-ice advantage in its first-round playoff series against St. Louis.

Jonas Brodin and Frederick Gaudreau also scored for Minnesota. Cam Talbot stopped 31 of 33 shots.

Johnny Gaudreau scored his 40th goal of the season for the Flames, who have first place in the Pacific Division. Nikita Zadorov also scored for the Flames and Jacob Markstrom made 22 saves.

BLUE JACKETS 5, LIGHTNING 2

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Oliver Bjorkstrand led Columbus with a goal and an assist in the win over Tampa Bay, keeping the Lightning from clinching the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division.

Jakub Voracek, Cole Sillinger, Jack Roslovic and Andrew Peeke also scored in the Blue Jackets’ final home game of the season. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 25 shots in his 27th win.

Nikita Kucherov and Corey Perry scored for Tampa Bay, while Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman each had two assists. Brian Elliott stopped 30 shots.

Tampa Bay has a one-point lead over Boston with one game remaining for each team. The No. 3 seed will play the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the other will get the East’s No. 1 wild-card spot and a series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

OILERS 5, SHARKS 4, OT

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Zach Hyman scored his career-high 27th goal of the season 1:37 into overtime and Edmonton rallied to beat San Jose.

Ryan McLeod, Kailer Yamamoto, Derek Ryan and Philip Broberg also scored for the Oilers, who tied a franchise record for consecutive home games with a point, going 13-0-1 in their last 14 contests at Rogers Place. Edmonton has also won six of its last seven overall and will face the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs.

Noah Gregor had two goals, and Scott Reedy and Nick Bonino also scored for the Sharks, who have lost two in a row as they wind down a season in which they missed the playoffs.

ISLANDERS 5, CAPITALS 1

NEW YORK (AP) — Brock Nelson and Anders Lee scored first-period goals, Mathew Barzal had three assists and Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves as New York routed playoff-bound Washington.

J.G. Pageau, Kyle Palmieri and Josh Bailey added third-period goals for the Islanders, who swept a home-and-home series with the playoff-bound Capitals this week.

Varlamov’s shutout was ruined with 41.4 seconds left in the game when Washington’s Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored. Vitek Vanecek made 21 saves for the Capitals.

The Islanders were coming off a 4-1 victory at Washington on Tuesday when Ryan Pulock and Dobson each scored power play goals as New York snapped a five-game winless streak. That win ended the Islanders’ road season at 17-19-5.

CANUCKS 3, KINGS 2, OT

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Brock Boeser scored his second goal of the game with 29.7 seconds left in overtime, giving Vancouver a win over Los Angeles.

The Kings (44-27-11) dominated through much of the game, taking a 2-0 lead into the third period on goals by Adrian Kempe and Gabriel Vilardi.

The Canucks (40-30-11) rallied in the third with goals by Boeser and Alex Chiasson.

Vancouver, playing its final home game of the season, got a 33-save effort from Spencer Martin. The Kings’ Cal Petersen had 26 saves.

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