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Rangers take down Sabres 2-1 in 1st round of playoffs

NEW YORK -- Rick Nash scored the winning goal with 1:42 left, on New York's third shot of the third period, and the Rangers clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

New York secured second place in the Metropolitan Division when the Philadelphia Flyers lost at Tampa Bay later Thursday. The Rangers will face either the Flyers or Columbus in the playoffs.

The Rangers struggled throughout against the lowly Sabres and goalie Matt Hackett, who played in just his seventh NHL game of the season.

Drew Stafford gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead in the second, and Benoit Pouliot tied in in the final minute of the frame.

Islanders 2, Canadiens 0 Evgeni Nabokov made 19 saves for his fourth shutout this season, and Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson scored power-play goals late in the second period as the New York Islanders topped the Montreal Canadiens.

The loss, combined with Tampa Bay's 4-2 win over Philadelphia, hurt the Canadiens' chances of starting the playoffs on home ice. Montreal is second in the Atlantic Division with 98 points and one game left to play, while the Lightning have 97 points with two games remaining.

The Islanders posted their first regulation win in four games, but improved to 7-2-2 in their last 11 games.

The Canadiens, coming off a 3-2 overtime loss in Chicago on Wednesday, were outshot 30-19.

Panthers 4, Maple Leafs 2 Nick Bjugstad had two goals and an assist to lift the Florida Panthers over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brad Boyes and Brandon Pirri also scored for the Panthers. Roberto Luongo, who returned after missing Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury, made 27 saves.

Paul Ranger and Tyler Bozak scored for the Maple Leafs, and Drew MacIntyre stopped 33 shots. The 30-year-old MacIntyre made his first career NHL start and second appearance for Toronto this season.

Predators 2, Coyotes 0 Pekka Rinne made 29 saves to lead the Nashville Predators over Phoenix and damaging the Coyotes' playoff hopes.

Craig Smith and Patric Hornqvist scored for Nashville, which has won four of its last five.

The loss hurt Phoenix's quest for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. The Coyotes entered the day two points behind the Dallas Stars in the wild-card race. Both teams have two games remaining, including Sunday's season finale when Dallas visits Phoenix.

Wild 4, Blues 2 Kyle Brodziak scored two goals and John Curry made 43 saves in his Wild debut to lead Minnesota over the struggling St. Louis Blues.

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Los Angeles Kings goalie Martin Jones #31 makes the save on Edmonton Oilers' Taylor Hall #4 during second-period NHL hockey game action in Edmonton, Alberta, Thursday, April 10. (AP)

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