Bruins 3, Panthers 0
The Boston Bruins saluted rather than celebrated.
Ending a four-game winless streak and reaching a tie for first place in the Northeast Division with a victory against Florida on Sunday was secondary to the Bruins, considering all that's happened in Boston recently.
Each member of the team remained on the ice for a postgame ceremony to hand over their jerseys to a group of people who jumped in to assist the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing or members of law enforcement who participated in the manhunt that led to the capture of one of the suspects Friday night.
Thousands of fans remained for the ceremony, cheering as 26 jerseys were handed out to the heroes of a tragic week that could have been so much worse.
"There was still some electricity in the air when you look at the end of the game," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Too much has happened in this past week to suddenly turn the corner and say we've forgotten. We haven't and we never will."
The "Shirt Off Our Backs" ceremony is actually an annual promotion for fans. But the Bruins said season-ticket holders asked instead for first responders to be the recipients.
"It's pretty overwhelming to see all the fans and all the players taking the time to say thanks," said Massachusetts State Police Trooper Mark Spencer, who was holding on to the sweaty jersey Jaromir Jagr had just handed him. "We couldn't even walk through upstairs during the venue without people stopping us and thanking us."
Spencer piloted the helicopter equipped with a thermal imaging device that confirmed the 19-year-old bombing suspect was hiding in a parked boat in neighboring Watertown.
Trooper Eric Fairchild, who was handling communications on the helicopter crew, received Rich Peverley's jersey. Both, dressed in their black flight suits and hats, modestly credited others with having more important roles in the rescue and apprehension.
"We were a small cog in a big wheel with a lot of people working together and it came to a successful resolution," Fairchild said. "The citizens of Massachusetts are amazing and we feel very honored today. Boston fans, Massachusetts residents and United States citizens at this time have been amazing."
Jagr, whose goal 3:03 into the game gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead, said the players were grateful for the chance to meet and thank the honorees personally.
"It's part of our job to somehow help people — somehow make them happy," Jagr said. "It's a small help, but at least it's a help we can do. Hopefully they appreciate it and they are happy."
The Bruins were playing the second of back-to-back afternoon games after hosting the Penguins in a 3-2 loss Saturday. The Pittsburgh game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but postponed because of the lockdown and manhunt for one of the suspected bombers.
Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots for his fourth shutout of the season and the Bruins pulled into a tie with idle Montreal for first place in Northeast Division with 59 points. The Bruins have four games to play, one more than the Canadiens as the longtime rivals try to lock up the division in the final week of the regular season.
The visiting Panthers honored local law enforcement by wearing Boston Police hats during their pregame skate. Bruins fans once again took over the singing of the national anthem, a practice that started last week in the first game since the deadly explosions at the marathon finish line.
Rookie Dougie Hamilton added his fifth goal of the season on a slap shot from the blue line in the second period, giving the Bruins goals from their oldest and youngest player. Jagr, who has eight points in nine games for Boston, is 41; Hamilton is 19.
Brad Marchand picked up his team-high 18th goal when he backhanded the puck into an empty net with 1:22 remaining.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 36 shots for Florida, one day after allowing six straight goals in a 6-2 loss at New Jersey.
Rangers 4, Devils 1
Ryan Callahan scored a goal in the opening minute and another in the third period, and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves as New York eliminated New Jersey from the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Callahan provided the lead 34 seconds in, Derek Stepan added a goal in the first period, and Taylor Pyatt snapped a long drought in the second for the eight-place Rangers, who are inching closer to a playoff berth.
Callahan made it 4-0 at 5:13 of the third with a power-play goal, flipping a shot over sprawled-out goalie Martin Brodeur, who tried to poke away the puck. Brodeur heard derisive chants of "Mar-ty, Mar-ty" throughout and finished with 18 saves.
Lundqvist was solid in his 12th straight start, allowing only Andrei Loktionov's goal with 6:30 remaining.
The Devils' longshot playoff hopes were dashed, meaning last season's conference champions won't get a chance to defend their title. New Jersey had won two straight following a 10-game skid (0-6-4).
Madison Square Garden fans serenaded the Devils with chants of "Season's over" as time ticked down in the third.
Of the teams behind the Rangers, only Winnipeg can now catch them. New York is even in points with seventh-place Ottawa, but the Senators have four games remaining - one more than the Rangers. New York has won three straight and is 8-2-1 in its last 11.
With a 3-0 lead heading into the third period, the Rangers had all but sealed New Jersey's fate. New York is 85-0-6 when leading after two periods, dating to Feb. 4, 2010.
The Rangers came out quickly, seemingly motivated to put the Devils away early. New Jersey eliminated New York in last year's Eastern Conference finals.
New York connected right away, scoring while Brodeur was looking the opposite way from where the puck was. Carl Hagelin worked to get free from Devils defenders behind the net, and flung the puck in front to Callahan, who was near the left post.
While Brodeur had his head turned away from him, trying to find the puck he thought was behind the net, Callahan nudged it forward off of Brodeur's skate and into the net for his 13th goal of the season.
Ducks 3, Oilers 1
Cam Fowler, Kyle Palmieri and Corey Perry scored to help put Anaheim on the brink of clinching the Pacific Division with a victory over Edmonton.
The Ducks could have clinched the division title if the Kings lost to Dallas in regulation, but that game went to overtime. Anaheim can seal it with another win over the Oilers on Monday.
Taylor Hall scored for Edmonton, which lost for the seventh time in eight games to extend its playoff drought to seven years.
The Oilers' last playoff appearance came in a Game 7 loss in the 2006 Stanley Cup finals against Carolina.
Kings 4, Stars 3 (OT)
Jeff Carter deflected the winning goal off his upper body with 51 seconds left in overtime, and Los Angeles seized fourth place in the Western Conference with a win over Dallas.
Captain Dustin Brown scored two goals for the defending Stanley Cup champions, and Mike Richards scored an early goal before putting the puck off Carter's chest for the overtime winner.
The Kings (26-14-5) moved two points clear of San Jose for fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round after the Sharks lost to Columbus.
Alex Goligoski scored in the third period and Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 shots for the Stars, who sit three points behind Columbus and Minnesota for the final playoff spot in the West.
Avalanche 5, Blues 3
Jamie McGinn scored twice, Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 29 shots and Colorado prevented St. Louis from wrapping up a playoff spot.
Cody McLeod, Matt Duchene and Chuck Kobasew also scored for the Avalanche, who chased Brian Elliott late in the second period. It was Colorado's eighth straight home win over the Blues.
David Backes, Jaden Schwartz and Kevin Shattenkirk had goals for St. Louis, which could have secured a postseason berth with a win over a Colorado team that's last in the Western Conference.
After Elliott gave up a fourth goal, the Blues pulled him in favor of Jake Allen. He allowed Kobasew's third-period goal that gave Colorado a 5-3 advantage.
Blue Jackets 4, Sharks 3
Ryan Johansen scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:37 remaining to give Columbus a big boost in its push for the playoffs with a victory over San Jose.
Mark Letestu scored twice and Vinny Prospal also had a goal for the Blue Jackets, who moved into a tie for seventh place with Minnesota in the Western Conference with 51 points. Columbus has played one more game than the Wild and two more than ninth-place Detroit, who is three points back in the race for the final playoff spot. Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves.
Marty Havlat, Andrew Desjardins and Joe Pavelski scored for the Sharks, who needed only to take the game to overtime to clinch a ninth-straight playoff berth. Antti Niemi made 18 saves.
Flames 4, Wild 1
Joey MacDonald made 34 saves, Mark Cundari scored a goal in his first NHL game and Calgary handed Minnesota a potentially harmful home loss in its playoff push.
Mikael Backlund, Mike Cammalleri and Jiri Hudler also scored for the Flames, who are long out of the postseason hunt but have won six of their last eight games.
Zach Parise got his team-high 17th goal for the Wild, who will likely at least need to win two of their three remaining games to make the playoffs without help from others. They're in seventh place in the Western Conference with 51 points, while Columbus, Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix remain in a tight pack still alive behind them.
Hurricanes 3, Lightning 2
Jiri Tlusty scored two first-period goals and Dan Ellis stopped 34 shots to lead Carolina to a victory over Tampa Bay.
Alexander Semin scored 16 seconds into the game for the Hurricanes, who jumped ahead 3-0 and held on for their first victory against the Lightning this season. Semin took a feed in the slot from Eric Staal and whipped it over the shoulder of Andres Lindback. Semin also had two assists.
Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis scored for the Lightning, who lost their sixth straight.
Ellis turned away 15 of 16 shots in the third period, including point-blank opportunities by Eric Brewer, Ryan Malone and B.J. Crombeen.
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