NHL: Blackhawks, Pittsburgh reach play-offs

The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins became the first teams in the NHL this season to have their play-off places confirmed.

Brandon Saad; Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

Inactive tonight, the Penguins' post-season ticket was decided when the New Jersey Devils, who stand fourth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference, suffered a seventh straight defeat.

The Devils were beaten 3-2 after a shoot-out by the Buffalo Sabres, with Nathan Gerbe the matchwinner. Steve Ott and Patrick Kaleta netted in regulation for Buffalo, while Steve Sullivan and Mark Fayne scored for the Devils.

A more conventional route saw the Blackhawks claim their play-off place in the West, as they posted a 5-3 home victory over the Nashville Predators.

Chicago had trailed in the early stages of the third period but goals from Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane saw them to the win.

The San Jose Sharks' seven-game winning run is over. They were edged out on a shootout, losing 5-4 at home by the Dallas Stars for whom Jamie Benn netted the decider. Alex Chiasson scored twice in regulation for Dallas.

Alex Ovechkin followed his hat-trick against Florida on Saturday night with two goals in the Washington Capitals' 4-2 success against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He joined Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos at the top of the NHL scoring charts with his 25th goal of the season.

The Minnesota Wild beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0, while the Florida Panthers edged the Ottawa Senators 1-0 with a Dmitry Kulikov goal and the St Louis Blues beat the Detroit Red Wings by the same narrow margin, Chris Porter their scorer.

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