Capitals draw date in Boston
Third-string goalie stifles the Rangers
Washington scored three first-period goals and third-string goaltender Braden Holtby made 35 saves Saturday night to help the Capitals beat the Rangers, 4-1, at Madison Square Garden, spoiling New York’s chance to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Rangers (51-24-7) finished with 109 points for the third time in franchise history, but lost out to Vancouver for the league’s top spot.
The Capitals quieted the crowd quickly as Alex Ovechkin and Mathieu Perreault scored on Washington’s first two shots against goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Washington (42-32-8) closed with 92 points and will be the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference after Florida beat Carolina, 4-1, to clinch the Southeast Division. Washington will open the playoffs in Boston, while the Rangers play host to Ottawa in the first round.
The Panthers claimed the No. 3 seed in the East and will face No. 6 New Jersey in the opening round.
The 22-year-old Holtby, who has played most of the season for Hershey of the AHL, started because of injuries to Michal Neuvirth (lower-body) and Tomas Vokoun (groin).
Devils 4, Senators 2 - New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice, former Boston College star Stephen Gionta broke a third-period tie with his first NHL goal, and the Devils won in East Rutherford, N.J., to close the regular season with a six-game winning streak.
Gionta, recalled from Albany Friday, gave the Devils the lead for good, putting in the rebound of Alexei Ponikarovsky’s shot with 9:05 to play.
“It’s really a dream come true,’’ said Gionta, who played 12 games with New Jersey last season. “I couldn’t have imagined this. The guys were great and really supportive of me coming back. Every kid dreams of getting a goal in the NHL, but it came in a game-winning situation. It really hasn’t hit me yet. It hasn’t quite sunk in. I just wanted to come in and try to help the team. This is so awesome.’’
Penguins 4, Flyers 2 - Evgeni Malkin scored his 50th goal of the season and added an assist to lock up his second NHL scoring title as host Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia in a preview of their first-round playoff series.
Malkin finished the regular season with 109 points and became the ninth player in Penguins history and the sixth Russian-born player in NHL history to reach the 50-goal mark when his wrist shot with 12 seconds left in the second period beat Philadelphia’s Sergei Bobrovsky to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.
Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis also scored for the Penguins, who knocked off the Flyers for the first time at Consol Energy Center.
The Flyers treated the meaningless regular-season finale as little more than an exhibition. Claude Giroux sat out as a precaution, as did No. 1 goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
“If the game meant something, it would have been a lot more intense,’’ Philadelphia forward Scott Hartnell said.
“We came out of it unscathed I think and now we’ve got to go after them and play our hearts out.’’
Hartnell predicts “a lot of blood’’ when the puck drops for Game 1 Wednesday.
Predators 6, Avalanche 1 -Backup Anders Lindback stopped 34 shots before leaving early in the final period after a collision and Patric Hornqvist scored his team-leading 27th goal to lift playoff-bound Nashville over host Colorado. The No. 4-seeded Predators will meet Detroit in a first-round series in the West.
Blackhawks 3, Red Wings 2 - Patrick Kane scored the only goal of the shootout to give visiting Chicago the victory and the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Detroit clinched the fifth seed.
Panthers 4, Hurricanes 1 - Florida clinched its first division title, getting first-period goals from Marcel Goc and John Madden and 33 saves from Scott Clemmensen, beating visiting Carolina and wrapping up the Southeast crown.
Coyotes 4, Wild 1 - Taylor Pyatt scored two goals and Mike Smith made 23 saves to help visiting Phoenix clinch its first division championship and a first-round Western Conference matchup against Chicago.
Dany Heatley scored for the Wild, who will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Canucks 3, Oilers 0 - Henrik Sedin scored the only goal host Vancouver needed to beat Edmonton and win the Presidents’ Trophy for the second straight season. The Canucks finished 51-22-9.
Blues 3, Stars 2 - Alex Steen and David Perron scored power-play goals, Jaroslav Halek stopped 33 shots, and playoff-bound St. Louis held on for a victory in Dallas.
Sharks 3, Kings 2 - Dan Boyle scored his second goal of the game with 1:02 remaining in overtime as host San Jose clinched the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.
In other games - Steven Stamkos scored his 60th goal of the season and Teddy Purcell had a hat trick - including the overtime winner - to spark visiting Tampa Bay to a 4-3 win over Winnipeg . . . Tomas Plekanec scored a rare shorthanded goal with Montreal down two players and the host Canadiens beat Toronto, 4-1. Montreal finished last in the Eastern Conference . . . Cam Atkinson scored two goals - giving him five in five periods - to lead host Columbus to a 7-3 victory over the Islanders . . . Nigerian-born Akim Aliu, 22, scored his first two NHL goals to lead host Calgary to a 5-2 win over Anaheim. Bobby Ryan scored his 30th and 31st goals of the season for Anaheim, which finished with its worst record since 2003-04.