Minnesota Wild beat Boston Bruins to clinch playoff berth
AP Thursday, April 10, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
ST. PAUL, Minnesota -- Minnesota clinched a spot in the NHL playoffs by beating Boston 4-3 after a shootout on Monday, with Mikko Koivu scoring in the tiebreaker and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov denying all three Bruins shots.
The result sealed a wild-card spot in the Western Conference on a day the playoff picture became a little clearer.
Washington kept its slim hopes alive by beating slumping St. Louis as Alex Ovechkin netted his 50th goal of the season, Tampa Bay ended Toronto's postseason chances, and Columbus tied a franchise record for wins in a season when it beat Phoenix.
Minnesota forced overtime when — with Bryzgalov benched for an extra skater — Ryan Suter knocked in the tying goal with just 65 seconds left.
After Bryzgalov stopped Brad Marchand's attempt to end the shootout, he pumped his arms as he skated out of the crease to celebrate with his teammates. The Wild will be the seventh seed and face the division winner with the fewest points.
Washington beat St. Louis 4-1, with Ovechkin becoming the 11th player in NHL history to score 50 or more goals in a season five times.
Ovechkin, who added two assists, brought up his 50th goal with a one-timer in the first period, reaching the mark for the first time in four years.
Nicklas Backstrom scored twice and Mikhail Grabovski added another goal for the Capitals, who are still on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture looking in with three games remaining.
Maxim Lapierre had the only goal for St. Louis, which has lost a season-worst three straight.
Tampa Bay beat Toronto 3-0, with Ondrej Palat scoring twice and Anders Lindback coming off the bench to make 25 saves.
Tampa Bay' starting goalie Ben Bishop left in the first period due to an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Victor Hedman had an empty-net goal late in the third for the Lightning, who trail Montreal by two points for second place in the Atlantic Division.
The Maple Leafs have lost 10 of 12 to fall out of playoff contention.
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