Marc-Andre Bergeron scored twice, and the Minnesota Wild set a season high for goals in an 8-4 victory over the visiting Nashville Predators on Friday night in a game pitting two teams clinging to the faintest of playoff chances.
Andrew Brunette, Kim Johnsson, Dan Fritsche, Mikko Koivu, Cal Clutterbuck and Marek Zidlicky also scored for the Wild, which entered the game in 10th place in the West and knowing a loss would knock it out of contention for the eighth playoff seed.
Both teams need a lot of help to leapfrog either St. Louis or Anaheim and sneak into the playoffs.
Jason Arnott scored twice for the Predators, who started the night in ninth place in the West. Shea Weber and Steve Sullivan also scored for Nashville.
BLUES 3, BLUE JACKETS 1: Keith Tkachuk scored twice for the first time since opening night and added an assist, helping host St. Louis clinch its first playoff berth in four seasons.
Andy McDonald and Tkachuk scored power-play goals on two of the Blues' first three shots for a fast start against Columbus, no doubt flat two days after making it into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
STARS 3, AVALANCHE 2 (SO): Mike Ribeiro resorted to trickery in the final shootout attempt, skating in backward and flipping a shot into the net off Peter Budaj to lift host Dallas.
COYOTES 4, SHARKS 1: Al Montoya made 40 saves for his third NHL victory, and visiting Phoenix prevented league-leading San Jose from clinching the Presidents' Trophy.
CANUCKS 1, KINGS 0: Roberto Luongo made 20 saves for host Vancouver for his career-high eighth shutout, and Ryan Kesler scored on a second-period power play.
MALKIN A SCORING MACHINE: There was palpable disappointment in the Pittsburgh Penguins' front office five years ago when they lost the draft lottery and missed out on Alex Ovechkin, one of the NHL's most promising prospects in a quarter-century.
The Penguins were coming off a third consecutive terrible season, their attendance was the league's worst and a prospect-thin farm system offered little hope for the immediate future. Privately, the Penguins spent months counting upon landing Ovechkin, only to lose him to the Capitals because of the fickle tumble of a ping pong ball.
Amid the post-lottery doom and gloom, one Penguins official said, perhaps more optimistically than realistically, "At least we get Evgeni Malkin."
Turns out Malkin might be one of the best consolation prizes of all time.
As the NHL regular season concludes this weekend, the 22-year-old Malkin has a strong chance to become only the second Russian player to win the Art Ross Trophy that goes to the NHL scoring champion -- yet the second to do so in as many seasons, succeeding Ovechkin.
With one game remaining for each, Malkin has a 112-108 points edge over Ovechkin, who has played in three fewer games because he missed two to visit his ailing grandfather in Russia and another with a heel injury. Those absences may prevent Ovechkin from becoming the first repeat champion since former Penguins star Jaromir Jagr won four in a row ending in 2000-01.
SATAN RETURNS TO PENGUINS: Longtime NHL forward Miroslav Satan has cleared waivers and been recalled by Pittsburgh. The move was announced Friday.
Satan had 17 goals and 19 assists in 65 games with Pittsburgh before being sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL in a salary cap move at the March 4 trading deadline.
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