Penguins extend playoff streak to 13 years

The NHL’s longest active playoff streak is still alive.

Phil Kessel scored twice, Sidney Crosby added a goal and two assists and Matt Murray stopped 33 shots as the Penguins beat the Red Wings 4-1 in Pittsburgh on Thursday to clinch a postseason berth for the 13th straight year.

“It’s not easy,” Crosby said. “You can see it comes down to Game 81. There are a lot of things that happened over the course of the year. It’s difficult. It’s a tight league and you have to earn it.”

Detroit’s Jimmy Howard finished with 43 saves, but couldn’t quite duplicate his spectacular performance in a victory over the Penguins on Tuesday as the Red Wings’ winning streak came to a halt at six games.

Jake Guenztel added his 39th goal for Pittsburgh, which welcomed back center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang from injured reserve.

“I think the impact they have is huge,” Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan said of Malkin and Letang. “Both guys are … dominant players. It just changes the whole dynamic of our team.”

Hurricanes 3, Devils 1: Justin Faulk scored the go-ahead goal in the second period as host Carolina clinched its first postseason berth in a decade. Petr Mrazek made 35 saves to help the Hurricanes snap the NHL’s longest active playoff drought. Now, that distinction belongs to Buffalo, which will miss the postseason for the eighth straight season. “The goal was to get relevant. That’s the first thing,” Carolina’s first-year head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I felt like we’d kind of fallen off the map, and obviously, we’re not done. This isn’t the final thing. We want to be the best team. But there’s a step that has to be taken, and it’s a huge step to make the playoffs. Can’t say enough about the group — just can’t.”

Avalanche 3, Jets 2: Erik Johnson scored 1:49 into overtime to complete host Colorado’s rally from a two-goal deficit as the Avalanche clinched a playoff berth. With its fifth loss in six games, Winnipeg fell a point behind first-place Nashville in the Central Division, dropping into a tie with St. Louis with one game remaining.

Predators 3, Canucks 2: Ryan Johansen scored with 19.5 seconds remaining as host Nashville took sole possession of first in the Central.

Blues 7, Flyers 3: Alex Pietrangelo had three assists in his team’s five-goal first period and host St. Louis kept its Central title hopes alive.

Capitals 2, Canadiens 1: Nic Dowd scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and Braden Holtby made 33 stops as host Washington clinched the Metropolitan Division title.

Lightning 3, Maple Leafs 1: Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 shots as visiting Tampa Bay (61-16-4) became the second team in NHL history to win more than 60 games in a season. The 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings finished 62-13-7.

Islanders 2, Panthers 1: Brock Nelson scored the decisive goal in the fourth round of the shootout as visiting New York beat Florida to remain two points ahead of Pittsburgh for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Bruins 3, Wild 0: Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and 47th of his career as visiting Boston beat Minnesota.

Sabres 5, Senators 2: Jack Eichel scored a goal and added two assists as host Buffalo snapped an eight-game skid.

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