Capitals beat Canadiens to take Metropolitan Division

By The Associated Press

Andrew Shaw of the Montreal Canadiens battles Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals for the puck during the first period at Capital One Arena on April 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON - Nic Dowd scored the tiebreaking goal early in the second period, Braden Holtby stopped 33 shots and the Washington Capitals beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 Thursday night to clinch the Metropolitan Division title.

Lars Eller also scored as Washington wrapped up a fourth consecutive division crown with one game remaining.

After clinching their fifth consecutive playoff spot and 11th in 12 seasons last week, the defending Stanley Cup champions enter the postseason having won five of six. They've allowed only one goal in three of those victories.

Shea Weber scored for Montreal, which saw its playoff hopes dwindle with a game to go. Despite beating other division leaders in their last two games, the Canadiens entered Thursday even behind Columbus for the second and final wild card due to the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker.

Carey Price made 29 stops in the loss.

ISLANDERS 2, PANTHERS 1, SO

Brock Nelson scored in the second period and then got the winner in the fourth round of the shootout to lead New York to its third win in four games.

Thomas Greiss finished with 28 saves through overtime and thwarted all four Florida attempts in the tiebreaker.

New York remained two points ahead of Pittsburgh for second place in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Islanders need to earn just one point in the season finale at Washington on Saturday to clinch second.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored the tying goal for the Panthers with 7:15 left in the third peirod. Montembeault had 35 saves in his 10th NHL start.

PENGUINS 4, RED WINGS 1

Phil Kessell scored twice, Sidney Crosby added a goal and two assists and Matt Murray stopped 33 shots as Pittsburgh clinched a postseason berth for the 13th straight year - the longest active streak in the NHL.

Jake Guenztel added his 39th for the Penguins, who welcomed center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang back into the lineup by racing past the Red Wings to extend a playoff run that began in 2007. Pittsburgh has won three Stanley Cups and appeared in another Cup final during that span.

Matt Puempel scored his first NHL goal in more than two years for the Red Wings. Jimmy Howard finished with 43 saves, but couldn't quite duplicate his spectacular performance in a victory over the Penguins on Tuesday as Detroit's six-game winning streak came to a halt.

LIGHTNING 3, MAPLE LEAFS 1

Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 shots, and Tampa Bay became the second team in NHL history to win more than 60 games in a season.

Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn also scored for the Lightning.

Mitch Marner scored for Toronto, and Frederik Andersen finished with 26 saves.

Tied 1-1 in the third period, Stamkos threw a pass back into the slot to Killorn, who beat a down-and-out Andersen with a fluttering shot into the top of the net for his 18th goal of the season with 5:48 left.

The Maple Leafs pressed for the tie with Andersen on the bench, but Vasilevskiy stopped Patrick Marleau from in tight with his left pad on Toronto's best chance before Kucherov sealed it with an empty-netter with 55 seconds left for his 40th of the season.

HURRICANES 3, DEVILS 1

Justin Faulk scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, and Carolina clinched its first playoff berth in a decade.

Warren Foegele and Nino Neiderreiter also scored to help the Hurricanes snap the NHL's longest active playoff drought. The victory - coupled with Montreal's loss at Washington - wrapped up Carolina's first postseason berth since 2009 and just its second since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Andy Greene scored and Cory Schneider stopped 22 shots for the Devils, who have lost three of four and have clinched last place in the Metropolitan Division.

Petr Mrazek made 35 saves for the Hurricanes.

SABRES 5, SENATORS 2

Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists, and Buffalo snapped an eight-game skid in its final home game of the season.

Sam Reinhart and Kyle Okposo scored 2:14 apart in the second period to erase a 2-1 deficit in a game between two non-playoff contenders. Rookie Victor Olofsson had a goal and assist, and 36-year-old Jason Pominville earned a rousing cheer from the crowd after scoring in what could have been his final home game for the Sabres.

Buffalo is 2-13-2 in its last 17 games, and won in regulation for the first time since a 5-2 victory over Washington on Feb. 23. Carter Hutton stopped 21 shots.

Anthony Duclair and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the Senators, who were already assured of finishing last in the overall standings. Joey Daccord stopped 35 shots in his NHL debut.

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