Game recaps, plus the latest on Alexander Ovechkin, Nathan Horton, Ilya Kovalchuk, Ryan O’Reilly, Jose Theodore and more.
POST-GAZETTE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched first overall in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. It was Penguins newcomers Jarome Iginla and Jussi Jokinen who made the difference, with Iginla potting the game-winning goal and Jokinen scoring a goal and setting up two others.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trades for Iginla, Jokinen and Brenden Morrow make Penguins GM Ray Shero look like a genius. Imagine how much stronger the Penguins will be if they ice a fully healthy roster during the playoffs. Iginla was also involved in a fight with Bruins forward Nathan Horton, resulting in the latter leaving the game with an apparent hand injury.
WASHINGTON POST: Alexander Ovechkin scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season as the Washington Capitals crushed the floundering Montreal Canadiens 5-1. Ovechkin now leads Steven Stamkos by 3 goals and John Tavares by four in the race for the Richard Trophy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals are peaking at the right time and will be a very tough opponent for whoever faces them in the opening round.
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: David Schlemko’s shootout goal kept the Phoenix Coyotes fading playoff hopes alive as they edged the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2.
NEWSDAY: The NY Islanders magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now three points as they downed the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in a shootout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The win, combined with the Ottawa Senators loss to Toronto, put the Isles into sixth overall, one point up on the Senators and three up on eighth overall NY Rangers. Those two clubs each have a game in hand.
DETROIT NEWS: The Detroit Red Wings fell 2-1 in a shootout to the Vancouver Canucks, losing forward Drew Miller for the rest of the season to a broken right hand.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Red Wings loss to Vancouver ensure the Kings have clinched a playoff berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The shootout point moves the Wings to within one point of the eighth overall Columbus Blue Jackets.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 6-2 drubbing of the Florida Panthers. The game also saw the return of Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk from a shoulder injury.
PHILLY.COM: Wayne Simmonds netted a hat trick as the Philadelphia Flyers downed the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3.
MERCURYNEWS.COM: The San Jose Sharks are on the verge of clinching a playoff berth for the ninth straight season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering at one point the Sharks were on the verge of tumbling out of playoff contention, that’s a significant achievement by this club, whose window of opportunity to contend for a Stanley Cup is closing.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning’s ageless star Martin St. Louis (37) has an opportunity to capture the NHL scoring title, which would be his second.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sidney Crosby’s fractured jaw is why St. Louis is poised to overtake him, but it’s still a remarkable achievement for a 37-year-old winger. He’s tied with teammate Steven Stamkos in points and leads Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin, Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Toronto’s Phil Kessel.
DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly, who missed nearly half the season to a contract holdout, is looking forward to better things next season.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Florida Panthers goalie Jose Theodore won’t return this season. Theodore, who suffered a groin injury in early March, was hoping to return for a game or two before season’s end.