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Flames clinch Western Conference, Pacific Division

Flames clinch Western Conference, Pacific Division
Sports
SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Calgary Flames scored three times in less than two minutes late in the first period on their way to clinching the top spots in the Western Conference and the Pacific Division with a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.

Sean Monahan, Mark Jankowski, Dalton Prout, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik all scored for Calgary, which won for the eighth time in 11 games. The Flames will have home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

It’s the first time in 13 years that the Flames have won their division.

Timo Meier and Logan Couture each had a goal and an assist and Kevin Labanc also scored for the Sharks, who lost for the eighth time in nine games after winning six straight.

The Flames held San Jose to a season-low 15 shots.

COYOTES 4, WILD 0

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Darcy Kuemper made 36 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, Josh Archibald scored two goals and the Arizona Coyotes kept their playoff push going.

It was Kuemper’s second shutout in three games and the Coyotes moved within one point of Colorado for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with three games to play. The Avalanche have four games remaining. The Coyotes, who have not made the playoffs since 2012, have won 10 of their last 12 at home.

Alex Galchenyuk scored his 18th goal in the first period, and Archibald and Vinnie Hinostroza had empty-netters in the final two minutes for the Coyotes. Kuemper stopped a rising shot from the slot from Brad Hunt with three minutes remaining to keep the Wild scoreless. Kuemper shut out Chicago 1-0 on Tuesday and has three shutouts in March.

PENGUINS 3, HURRICANES 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Matt Murray stopped 37 shots and the Penguins inched closer to a playoff berth.

Matt Cullen, at 42 the NHL’s oldest player, had a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh. Garrett Wilson collected his first goal in nearly two months and Patric Hornqvist added his first even-strength score since early January. Murray did the rest while as the Penguins took a major step toward assuring itself of a spot in the post-season for the 13th consecutive year, the longest active streak in the league. Pittsburgh needs just two points over its final three games or a loss by Montreal to lock up a playoff spot.

Carolina’s bid to reach the post-season for the first time in a decade took a hit. The Hurricanes have 93 points with a week to go in the regular season, just one point ahead of the ninth-place Canadiens.

Jacob Slavin’s power-play goal with just under 8 minutes to go spoiled Murray’s bid for a shutout.

RANGERS 3, FLYERS 0

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Alexandar Georgiev made 29 saves and Ryan Strome scored for the third consecutive game to lead New York.

Pavel Buchnevich, and Brady Skjei also scored for the Rangers and Brett Howden had two assists.

Strome scored late in the first period to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead when he went top shelf on Flyers goalie Carter Hart, who had only one defenceman helping him defend an odd-man rush. The goal was Strome’s 17th of the season for the Rangers and 18th overall. He leads the NHL in goals for his new team after being traded this season. He was acquired from Edmonton in November.

BLUE JACKETS 4, SABRES 0

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 38 shots, leading Columbus to its fifth straight victory.

With 94 points, the Blue Jackets jumped into seventh-place in the Eastern Conference standings, a point ahead of Carolina and two up on idle Montreal.

Bobrovsky took over the NHL lead with his ninth shutout — one more than Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury — and third in five games.

Nick Foligno capped a three-goal first period and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored his 25th and added two assists. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson had a goal each for Columbus.

RED WINGS 6, BRUINS 3

DETROIT (AP) — Taro Hirose scored his first NHL goal early in the third period, just 8 seconds after Anthony Mantha completed his first hat trick for the Red Wings.

Mantha scored twice in the opening period to give Detroit a 2-0 lead and scored again 1:17 into the third period to tie the game at 3. Hirose, who signed March 12 as a free agent from Michigan State, put the Red Wings up 4-3 while their fans were still roaring after the tying goal. Filip Hronek gave Detroit a two-goal cushion with 7:57 remaining in regulation, and Dylan Larkin added an empty-net goal in the final minute.

Jimmy Howard had 31 saves for the Red Wings, who have won five straight for the first time this season.

Jaroslav Halak stopped 22 shots for the Bruins, who are trying to hold off the Toronto Maple Leafs to finish second in the Atlantic Division.
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