Lightning top Panthers, clinch top seed in East

Posted: Friday, April 02, 2004

TAMPA, Fla. Martin St. Louis scored twice in the third period, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 Thursday night and clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Brad Richards also scored for the Southeast Division champions. St. Louis scored his second goal and 37th overall from just below the left-circle off a pass through the slot by Cory Stillman to put the Lightning ahead with 2:20 remaining.

The Panthers had tied it at 3 on Lyle Odelein's goal from the blue line at 14:14 of the third. Olli Jokinen and Donald Audette had the other Florida goals.

Bruins 3, Capitals 3

BOSTON Joe Thornton assisted on a game-tying goal and then left the game with an injury while Boston held on to tie Washington.

Thornton was slashed on the right wrist by Todd Rohloff as he crashed the net 3:25 into the third period. He left the ice with a trainer but came back for another shift and threaded a cross-ice pass to Glen Murray to set up a goal that made it 2-2 at the 5:23 mark.

A few minutes later, Thornton left the bench and did not return.

Andrew Raycroft stopped 24 shots for the Bruins, who played their 30th overtime game of the season to extend their NHL record. Dan McGillis had a goal and an assist and Nick Boynton also scored for Boston.

Red Wings 3, Blues 2

ST. LOUIS Marc Lamothe won in his second start of the season and Chris Chelios had two assists, helping Detroit clinch first place overall in the NHL with a victory over St. Louis.

The Blues missed a chance to clinch their 25th straight playoff berth, which would extend the longest current streak in professional sports. Instead, the loss in their regular-season home finale put them in a three-way tie with the Oilers and Predators for seventh in the Western Conference with two games to go.

Flyers 2, Canadiens 0

MONTREAL Simon Gagne and Michal Handzus scored, and Philadelphia strengthened their hold on first place in the Atlantic Division with a win over slumping Montreal.

Sean Burke made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season and 35th of his career. Philadelphia had lost its previous two games with Robert Esche in goal.

The victory gave the Flyers (40-20-14-6) 100 points, two more than second-place New Jersey in the division. Both teams have two games left.

The Canadiens lost a fifth straight game and missed a chance to clinch seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

Predators 3, Blackhawks 1

CHICAGO Steve Sullivan and Jeremy Stevenson had a goal and an assist each, and Tomas Vokoun made 34 saves for Nashville, which moved into a tie for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a victory over Chicago.

The victory gave the Predators 89 points as they try for their first postseason berth in their sixth year in the NHL. Nashville is tied with idle Edmonton and St. Louis, a 3-2 loser to Detroit. The Predators and Blues have two games remaining; the Oilers one.

Adam Hall had the other Nashville goal and Scott Walker added two assists. Tuomo Ruutu scored for last-place Chicago, which got 26 saves from Jocelyn Thibault but remained winless (0-4-2-1) in seven games.

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