MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens had plenty to celebrate. Saku Koivu was satisfied with a return to normalcy.
Koivu was greeted with a lengthy ovation Tuesday night as he resumed his playing career seven months after being diagnosed with abdominal cancer.
The Canadiens capped an emotional night, beating the Ottawa Senators 4-3 to clinch their first playoff berth in four seasons.
A sold-out Molson Centre crowd of 21,273 greeted the 27-year-old Finn with a standing ovation that lasted eight minutes -- from the time he stepped on the ice until the opening faceoff.
''It was overwhelming,'' Koivu said. ''I really appreciated what happened there.
''I feel like I'm back to normal life. It's a big part to come and start playing again but at the same time I still feel like there's something left, there's still a long way to go with that battle. I think we've gone as far as we could in seven months.''
Koivu, who underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatments to combat the disease, was given his first standing ovation of the night when his arrival on the ice for warmups brought the 8,000 or so fans on hand out of their seats.
Capitals 3, Blackhawks 1
WASHINGTON -- Steve Konowalchuk scored his first goal in 12 months as Washington kept its very faint playoff hopes alive with a victory over Chicago.
Sergei Gonchar and Dainius Zubrus also scored for the Capitals.
Steve Thomas scored in the third period for the Blackhawks.
The Capitals, playing with desperate aggression from the opening faceoff, pulled within four points of first-place Carolina in the Southeast Division.
However, the Hurricanes only need one point from their last three games to clinch the title -- and those three games are against the worst teams in the Eastern Conference: Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Florida on Friday and Atlanta on Sunday.
Bruins 2, Lightning 2
BOSTON -- Vincent Lecavalier scored both Tampa Bay goals, his second coming with 27 seconds left in regulation, as the Lightning tied Boston.
The Bruins moved four points ahead of Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference lead. Boston has two games left; the Flyers have three.
P.J. Axelsson and Glen Murray scored for Boston.
Canucks 2, Avalanche 1
DENVER -- Mattias Ohlund scored the game-winner late in the second period and Dan Cloutier stopped 30 shots as Vancouver extended its unbeaten streak to seven games with a win over Colorado.
Vancouver, 6-0-1 in its last seven games, reached 90 points for the third time in franchise history. The Canucks are 11-2-1 in their last 14 games and can clinch a playoff spot with victories over Los Angeles on Thursday and Calgary Saturday.
Colorado has a one-point lead over San Jose for the second playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Markus Naslund also scored for Vancouver.
Rob Blake scored for Colorado.
Blues 3, Predators 2
ST. LOUIS -- Ray Ferraro scored his second goal of the game on a power play with 4:52 left as St. Louis beat Nashville.
Ferraro tied the game at 2 at 3:46 of the third period.
Cory Stillman also scored for St. Louis.
Reid Simpson and Andy Delmore scored for Nashville.
Coyotes 4, Flames 2
CALGARY, Alberta -- Brian Savage's go-ahead goal at 9:51 of the third period sent Phoenix to a win over Calgary.
Phoenix kept pace with St. Louis and Vancouver in the tight Western Conference playoff race.
With all three teams winning, Phoenix remained seventh, one point behind St. Louis and one ahead of Vancouver.
Phoenix and St. Louis have three games remaining and Vancouver has two.
Shane Doan scored two goals, including an empty-netter with 52 seconds left, his 20th. Daniel Briere also scored for Phoenix.
Dean McAmmond and Derek Morris scored for Calgary.
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