Jagr Helps Rangers Clinch Playoff Spot

Friday, April 6th 2007, 7:02 am
By: News On 6

Jaromir Jagr reached the 30-goal mark for the 15th straight season, helping the New York Rangers clinch their second straight playoff berth. The New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche won to preserve their slim chances.

Martin Brodeur got his 48th victory to break Bernie Parent's single-season record as the New Jersey Devils won the Atlantic Division title and set a franchise mark for wins. The Buffalo Sabres tied their team record for wins, too.

The final regular-season home game couldn't have gone much better for the Rangers, who clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. Jagr also had an assist for the Rangers, who close the season at Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

``The sooner the better,'' Jagr said. ``If I knew we were going to win, I would say that I'd rather win it at home. But there are no guarantees.''

Brodeur stopped 34 shots, including a breakaway in the second, in the Devils' 3-2 win at Philadelphia to break the 33-year-old record in the city where Parent led the Broad Street Bullies to two Stanley Cup championships.

``I think with him being an icon as far as goalies for the Flyers, to go into Philly and do it here, I couldn't write it a lot better than that,'' Brodeur said.

Sergei Brylin and Jamie Langenbrunner each scored power-play goals for the Devils, who got their 49th victory _ surpassing the mark set in 1997-98 and matched in 2000-01.

In other games Thursday night, it was: Buffalo 4, Boston 2; Columbus 2, Dallas 1 in overtime; Pittsburgh 3, Ottawa 2; Nashville 4, St. Louis 1; Chicago 3, Detroit 2 in a shootout; Phoenix 3, Los Angeles 2; and San Jose 4, Calgary 3.

Rangers coach Tom Renney said he will go full force against the Penguins, so expect Henrik Lundqvist, 8-1-1 in his last 10, to be back in goal for the 45th time in 46 games.

``It is a different story when you go into the playoffs,'' Lundqvist said. ``When it starts next week, it takes everyone on the same page to get some results. I feel good. I feel confident with these guys.''

Jagr, finishing his first season as Rangers captain, has scored at least 30 goals in every NHL campaign following his rookie year with Pittsburgh _ joining Mike Gartner as the only NHL players to do it 15 straight times. He gave New York a 2-0 lead with 8:42 left in the second and then helped set up defenseman Marek Malik's goal with 1:34 remaining in the frame.

Jim Dowd scored a short-handed goal midway through the third period to lift the Devils to their fourth straight game and second since Lou Lamoriello fired Claude Julien with three games left in the regular season and the No. 2-seed Devils in first place in the division.

While some retired stars want to see their records stand forever, Parent said before the game he was rooting for Brodeur.

``This is his year,'' said Parent, his retired No. 1 hanging from the rafters. ``He's played fantastic hockey. It couldn't have happened to a more fantastic individual.''

Sabres 4, Bruins 2

Thomas Vanek scored twice and Buffalo matched a franchise record with its 52nd victory. Ales Kotalik and Derek Roy also scored to help the Sabres rally from a 2-0 first-period deficit in their final home game of the regular season.

Ryan Miller stopped 20 shots to earn his 39th victory and set the single-season team record, one ahead of the mark set by Don Edwards in 1977-78. The Sabres (52-21-7) matched their win total from last season and clinched the Eastern Conference's top seed. They also moved into a tie with Detroit for first place in the overall NHL standings.

Islanders 5, Maple Leafs 2

Jason Blake, Arron Asham and Miroslav Satan scored in the third period to maintain the host Islanders' slim playoff hopes.

Ryan Smyth and Mike Sillinger also scored for the Islanders, who got 28 saves from Wade Dubielewic and trail ninth-place Toronto by one point and eighth-place Montreal by two points. The Islanders have two games remaining, while the Canadiens and Maple Leafs play Saturday night in their finales.

Avalanche 3, Canucks 1

Milan Hejduk scored three goals, including two 4 minutes apart in the third period _ to help visiting Colorado pull within three points of Calgary for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with two games to play.

Paul Stastny assisted on all three goals as the Avalanche improved to 13-1-2 in their last 16 games.

Wild 3, Oilers 0

Niklas Backstrom shut out Edmonton for the second time in three days and Marian Gaborik scored his 30th goal for host Minnesota.

Mark Parrish and Keith Carney also scored for the Wild, who moved one point behind Northwest Division-leading Vancouver. Backstrom got his fifth shutout of the season.

Blackhawks 3, Red Wings 2, SO

Patrick Sharp and Jason Williams scored in the shootout to help host Chicago win its fourth straight and snap a seven-game losing streak against Detroit.

Nikolai Khabibulin made a season-high 56 saves, and Nikita Alexeev and Bryan Bickell scored in regulation for the Blackhawks.

By earning a point for reaching overtime, the Red Wings clinched their sixth straight Central Division title and moved one point shy of its third consecutive Western Conference title.

Penguins 3, Senators 2

Maxime Talbot scored with 9.8 seconds remaining to lift Pittsburgh at Ottawa and preserve an opportunity to claim home-ice advantage in a first-round playoff series against the Senators.

Pittsburgh moved into a tie with Ottawa for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 103 points.

Maxim Ouellet and Gary Roberts both scored power-play goals in the first for the Penguins. Jason Spezza scored his 32nd on a power play and assisted on Dany Heatley's 49th goal for Ottawa.

Blue Jackets 2, Stars 1, OT

Rick Nash scored 1:04 into overtime and host Columbus rallied to snap a four-game losing streak.

Stu Barnes scored for the Stars and Manny Malhotra tied it for the Blue Jackets with 6:57 left in regulation.

Predators 4, Blues 1

David Legwand scored two goals, Paul Kariya notched his 500th NHL assist, and Nashville set franchise records with its 50th victory and 108 points. Rookie Alexander Radulov and Peter Forsberg also had goals in the Predators' final home game of the regular season.

Sharks 4, Flames 3

Milan Michalek and Mark Bell scored within 1:40 of each other in the second period for host San Jose. Mike Grier and Jonathan Cheechoo scored in the final period for the Sharks, who set a franchise record with 106 points.

Coyotes 3, Kings 2

Jeremy Roenick had a goal and an assist, and Bill Thomas and Shane Doan also scored to help Phoenix snap a five-game losing streak.

Curtis Joseph made 19 saves for his first victory since March 22. His 445th career win moved him within two of Terry Sawchuk, who is fourth on the career list.