AROUND THE NHL | Friday’s games
Penguins 4, Senators 0
The Penguins will start their bid for a Stanley Cup three-peat home. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel banked in goals off Craig Anderson minutes apart in the second period, Casey DeSmith stopped 34 shots and the Penguins beat the Senators to clinch second place in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Phil Kessel collected his 34th goal of the season and Patric Hornqvist pushed his career-high to 29 when he beat Anderson late in the third period for the Penguins, who will host Columbus, New Jersey or Philadelphia next week. Anderson finished with 19 saves but was beaten twice from behind the goal line in the second period as the Senators lost for the ninth time in 11 games. Crosby was standing just off the right post when fired a shot that smacked off Anderson’s left pad and into the net 1:25 into the second period. Guentzel scored from nearly the same spot just over six minutes later, flicking a rebound off the end boards that hit Anderson’s left leg and skittered in for his 22nd of the season. That was more than enough for DeSmith, given the start a night after top goaltender Matt Murray played in a draining overtime victory over the Blue Jackets.
Lightning 7, Sabres 5
Nikita Kucherov reached a personal milestone and helped the Tampa Bay Lightning move closer to clinching the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Kucherov became the second player in the NHL to reach 100 points this season, and the Lightning took a two-point lead in the Atlantic Division by beating the Sabres. Kucherov scored in the first period and got his 100th point assisting on Dan Girardi’s goal 1:04 into the second that gave Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead. Edmonton’s Connor McDavid tops the league with 106 points.
Blues 4, Blackhawks 1
Patrik Berglund scored three times, including a tiebreaking rebound goal in the third period, and the St. Louis Blues moved into position for the last Western Conference wild card with a victory over the Blackhawks. Carter Hutton made 19 saves as St. Louis stopped a three-game slide that included a 4-3 home loss to Chicago on Wednesday night on Duncan Keith’s power-play goal with 8.5 seconds left. Jaden Schwartz also scored in the third after an ugly turnover by the Blackhawks. The Blues (44-31-6) moved one point ahead of the idle Avalanche (42-30-9) heading into their finale in Colorado on tonight.