Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 04/12/14 at 11:13 AM ET
LEHTONEN, STARS CLINCH FIRST PLAYOFF BERTH SINCE 2008 . . .
Kari Lehtonen (22 saves) recorded his 27th career shutout and fifth of the season to backstop the Stars to their first playoff berth since 2007-08.
* With the win, the Stars (40-30-11, 91 points) clinched the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. They will play either the Avalanche, Blues or Ducks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
* Lehtonen improved to 33-20-10 with a 2.41 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 65 appearances this season, including an 18-8-6 mark on home ice. His five shutouts are a career high, while his 33 wins are one shy of his single-season best, set in 2010-11 (34-24-11).
* Tyler Seguin scored his team-leading 37th goal of the season and now has 12-14—26 in his last 19 games. He ranks third in the NHL with a career-high 84 points in 79 contests this season.
* Trevor Daley set career highs with his ninth goal and third game-winner of the season. His 25 points are two off his single-season best, set in 2010-11 (8-19—27).
* Jamie Benn collected two assists to extend his point streak to five games (4-4—8).
* The Stars improved to 23-11-7 at home this season, including a 10-2-2 mark in their last 14 games at American Airlines Center.
. . . HAVLAT, SHARKS DENY AVALANCHE CENTRAL CROWN
Martin Havlat (3-1—4) posted a natural hat trick in the third period to help the Sharks snap a two-game skid and deny the Avalanche their chance of clinching the Central Division.
* The Sharks improved to 50-22-9, reaching the 50-win milestone for the fourth time in franchise history and first time since 2009-10 (51-20-11).
* Havlat recorded his sixth career hat trick and first since Nov. 2, 2005 (with OTT). It also marked his first four-point performance since Oct. 5, 2006 (with CHI: 2-2—4).
* Havlat is the second Sharks player to register a natural hat trick this season, following Joe Pavelski Jan. 18 (at TB). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Sharks had only two natural hat tricks in franchise history prior to 2013-14: by Owen Nolan Oct. 27, 1996 (at CHI) and Jonathan Cheechoo Oct. 12, 2006 (at EDM). Havlat became just the second player in Sharks history to record three third-period goals; Joe Thornton accomplished that feat in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Coyotes March 25, 2008.
* Patrick Marleau scored his 437th career goal and 83rd career game-winner.
* Logan Couture collected three assists for the third time this season. He also reached the 30-assist milestone for the second time in his career and first time since 2011-12, when he posted a career-high 34 helpers.
GUDLEVSKIS, LIGHTNING LEAPFROG CANADIENS IN ATLANTIC
Making his NHL debut, Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 36-of-38 shots to lead the Lightning to their third consecutive victory.
* With the win, the Lightning (45-27-9, 99 points) leapfrogged the idle Canadiens (45-28-8, 98 points) for the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division.
* The Lightning improved to 45-27-9 this season; their 45 victories are one shy of the franchise record set in 2003-04 (46-22-14) and matched in 2010-11 (46-25-11).
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, over the last 30 years, only five other goaltenders have posted a win while facing at least 38 shots and allowing no more than two goals in their NHL debut: Mike Fountain (Nov. 14, 1996: 40 saves on 40 shots), Roberto Luongo (Nov. 28, 1999: 43 on 44), Sebastien Charpentier (April 12, 2002: 38 on 39), Ben Scrivens (Nov. 3, 2011: 38 on 39) and Reto Berra (Nov. 3, 2013: 42 on 44).
* Eric Brewer (2-0—2) posted his first multi-goal game since Jan. 19, 2013, and recorded the winning goal for the second consecutive night. He had two game-winning goals in his last 455 regular-season outings (dating to March 20, 2007) prior to Thursday.
* Ondrej Palat scored his 23rd goal of the season to extend his point streak to six games (4-4—8). He ranks second among rookies in points (59) and assists (36), while placing third in goals.
* Cedric Paquette collected an assist in his NHL debut.
BLUE JACKETS, RED WINGS FAIL TO GAIN GROUND IN EAST
Both the Blue Jackets and Red Wings lost in regulation, remaining the first and second Wild Cards, respectively, in the Eastern Conference.
* Boone Jenner scored the lone goal for the Blue Jackets in their loss to the Lightning. He now has 16 goals this season, one shy of Rick Nash’s franchise record for a rookie (17 in 2002-03).
* The Red Wings suffered their first regular-season loss to the Hurricanes/Whalers franchise at Joe Louis Arena since Nov. 14, 1989. Riley Sheahan recorded the lone goal for Detroit, marking the second time this season he has scored in consecutive games (also Jan. 24-26).
OVECHKIN’S 51ST LIFTS CAPITALS OVER BLACKHAWKS
Alex Ovechkin (1-1—2) scored his League-leading 51st goal of the season and Jaroslav Halak (34 saves) recorded his 30th career shutout to lead the Capitals to their fourth consecutive victory.
* Ovechkin also tallied his League-leading 24th power-play goal, extending his single-season franchise record. It marks the most power-play goals by any player in one season since 2009-10, when Steven Stamkos also found the back of the net 24 times with the man advantage.
* Nicklas Backstrom posted 1-1—2, including the secondary assist on Ovechkin’s power-play goal. He leads the League with 38 power-play assists and 44 power-play points, the most by any player in one season since 2008-09, when Ovechkin recorded 19-27—46 with the man advantage.
DID YOU KNOW?
Lightning goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis became the first player to play in the ECHL (Ontario), AHL (Syracuse), NHL (Tampa Bay) and Olympics (Latvia) in a single season.
The Jets closed the 2013-14 season with three wins in their last four games . . . Flames forward Sean Monahan scored his 22nd goal of the season. According to the Associated Press, that is the most goals by a Flames rookie since 1989-90, when Paul Ranheim tallied 26 and Sergei Makarov had 24 . . . Tomas Hertl returned to the Sharks’ lineup for the first time since Dec. 19 . . . Hurricanes forward Jiri Tlusty recorded his fifth game-winning goal of the season, a career high . . . The Islanders scored on all three of their shootout attempts to improve to 16-5-2 in their last 23 road games . . . Flames forward Matt Stajan posted an assist and now has 4-6—10 in his past eight games, including points in six straight (3-3—6) . . . Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen collected an assist to extend his point streak to five games (2-4—6) . . . Jets forward Carl Klingberg scored his first career goal . . . Blues forward Ty Rattie and Islanders forward Justin Johnson (at age 32) made their NHL debuts . . . Oilers forward Ryan Smyth announced his retirement from the NHL. Smyth, who will play in his final game tonight, has compiled 386-456—842 in 1,270 career games.
SATURDAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS
* The Bruins would clinch the Presidents’ Trophy if they defeat the Sabres in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Sabres AND the Ducks lose to the Kings in any fashion OR if the Ducks lose to the Kings in regulation.
* The Ducks would clinch the top seed in the Western Conference and a first-round matchup against the Stars if they get at least one point against the Kings.
* The Lightning (idle) would clinch the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage in a first-round matchup against Montreal if the Canadiens lose to the Rangers in regulation.
* The Flyers would clinch the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division and a first-round matchup against the Rangers:
if they defeat the Penguins in regulation or overtime
if they defeat the Penguins in a shootout AND the Blue Jackets lose to the Panthers in any fashion or defeat the Panthers in a shootout
if they get one point against the Penguins AND the Blue Jackets lose to the Panthers in any fashion
if the Blue Jackets lose to the Panthers in regulation.
OTHER SCENARIOS TONIGHT
* The Ducks could move within one point of the Bruins in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.
* The Canadiens could leapfrog the Lightning for the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division.
* The Blue Jackets could leapfrog the Flyers for the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division.
STARS LOCK UP FINAL POSTSEASON BERTH
* By virtue of their win, the Stars clinched the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and the final berth for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They will face either Avalanche, Blues or Ducks in the first round of the postseason.
A LOOK AT THE PLAYOFF SEEDING
Teams in bold are locked into their positions:
Atlantic 1: Boston
Atlantic 2: Montreal or Tampa Bay
Atlantic 3: Montreal or Tampa Bay
Metropolitan 1: Pittsburgh
Metropolitan 2: NY Rangers
Metropolitan 3: Philadelphia or Columbus
Wild Card 1: Detroit, Columbus or Philadelphia
Wild Card 2: Detroit, Columbus or Philadelphia
Central 1: St. Louis or Colorado
Central 2: St. Louis or Colorado
Central 3: Chicago
Pacific 1: Anaheim
Pacific 2: San Jose
Pacific 3: Los Angeles
Wild Card 1: Minnesota
Wild Card 2: Dallas
SNEAK PEEK AT SATURDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Buffalo @ Boston, 12:30 p.m., MSG-B, BELL TV, NESN PLUS
Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh, 3:00 p.m., NBC
NY Rangers @ Montreal, 7:00 p.m., NHLN-US, CBC, RDS, MSG
Toronto @ Ottawa, 7:00 p.m., CBC
Columbus @ Florida, 7:00 p.m., FS-O
Chicago @ Nashville, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN, WGN
San Jose @ Phoenix, 9:00 p.m., CSN-CA+, KTVK
Vancouver @ Edmonton, 10:00 p.m., CBC
Anaheim @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., KDOC, PRIME
FLYERS, PENGUINS RENEW KEYSTONE STATE RIVALRY ON NBC
The Flyers (41-30-9, 91 points) will try to secure the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division when they visit the rival Penguins (51-24-5, 107 points) in a matinee at CONSOL Energy Center. A win guarantees the Flyers the No. 3 seed in the division and a first-round matchup with the Rangers; a loss and they could fall below the Blue Jackets (42-32-7, 91 points) and into a Wild Card position. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are facing off for the fifth and final time in 2013-14; the Flyers own a 3-1-0 edge in the season series, including three consecutive victories. They haven’t won four straight against the Penguins since Nov. 7, 2007-Jan. 4, 2008.
CANADIENS HIGHLIGHT “HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA” TRIPLEHEADER
CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” telecast features a tripleheader: the Canadiens (45-28-8, 98 points) play host to the Rangers (45-31-5, 95 points) at Bell Centre, looking to regain the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division; the Senators (35-31-14, 84 points) and Maple Leafs (38-25-8, 84 points) renew the Battle of Ontario at Canadian Tire Centre; and the Canucks (35-34-11, 81 points) visit the Oilers (28-44-9, 65 points) at Rexall Place in the final game of Ryan Smyth’s NHL career.
The information above provided by the NHL PR department
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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