BOSTON – Minutes after Montreal clinched a playoff spot by forcing overtime, Mark Recchi scored his second goal of the game to give the Boston Bruins a 5-4 victory over the Canadiens on Thursday night.

Montreal, now fighting the New York Rangers for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, will finish the regular season Saturday night against Pittsburgh.

The Rangers, tied with Montreal with 93 points, will finish Sunday at Philadelphia.

Boston has secured the top seed in the East, and will face the Canadiens or Rangers in the first round. The Bruins finished first in 2001-02, but were eliminated in six games by eighth-seeded Montreal.

In one of the more entertaining games of the season, the Bruins and Canadiens combined for 76 penalty minutes as they geared up for a potential first round clash.

Boston’s Zdeno Chara tied it at 4 when he backhanded a shot past Carey Price 5:27 into the third, and Recchi – won also had two assists – won it at 2:42 of overtime.

Recchi and Bergeron, who had a goal and two assists for Boston, combined for the winning goal. Recchi tipped the puck past Price after Bergeron stole the puck from Maxim Lapierre at Montreal’s blue line.

After falling behind 3-1 at the 5:30 mark of the second period, Montreal stormed back when Matt D’Agostini scored twice and Mathieu Schneider added a goal to make it4-3 with 3:07 left in the second period.

The Canadiens scored three consecutive power-play goals as a result of drawing penalties against Boston for retaliation or roughing.

Bergeron scored the lone first-period goal when he converted a pass from Matt Hunwick at 17:58 for a 1-0 Boston lead.

As the first period ended, Chara got in a skirmish with Mike Komisarek and his extra roughing penalty led to Alex Kovalev’s tying goal 1:25 into the second period to make it 1-1.

Boston quickly responded with a pair of goals from Phil Kessel and Recchi in a span of 2:18 for a 3-1 lead.

Kessel scored his team-leading 33rd goal, which is the most by a Bruin since the 2002-03 season.

Montreal, celebrating its 100th season, avoided missing the playoffs for the second time in three years.

Capitals 4, Lightning 2

TAMPA, Fla. – Brooks Laich had two goals and the Washington Capitals secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

Laich and David Steckel scored 31 seconds apart early in the second to gave the Capitals a 3-1 lead.

Devils 3, Senators 2

OTTAWA – Zach Parise and Brendan Shanahan scored in the shootout to give the New Jersey Devils a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.

New Jersey had already clinched first place in the Atlantic Division and third place overall in the Eastern Conference by getting a point for going into overtime.

Rangers 2, Flyers 1

NEW YORK – Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves, Ryan Callahan had a goal and an assist and the New York Rangers clinched a playoff spot with a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

The Rangers’ win over the Flyers also helped New Jersey, giving the Devils the Atlantic Division title.

Penguins 6, Islanders 1

PITTSBURGH – Evgeni Malkin picked up two assists to lengthen his lead in the NHL scoring race and the Pittsburgh Penguins stayed in contention for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, beating the Islanders 6-1 Thursday night to assure New York of finishing with the NHL’s worst record.

Malkin has 112 points – four more than last season’s scoring champion, Alex Ovechkin of Washington.

Both players have one game remaining. Ovechkin went scoreless during the Capitals’ 4-2 victory at Tampa Bay.

Panthers 3, Thrashers 2

ATLANTA – David Booth scored with 4:25 left in the third period to help the Florida Panthers keep their playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 win Thursday night against the Atlanta Thrashers. The Panthers, with 91 points, are battling the Montreal Canadiens for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs with one game remaining Saturday at home against Washington.

Predators 4, Wings 3

DETROIT – Ville Koistinen and Jason Arnott scored in the shootout to complete the Nashville Predators ‘ comeback from a two-goal deficit and beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Thursday night.

Sabres 5, Hurricanes 1

RALEIGH, N.C. – Jason Pominville scored twice and the Buffalo Sabres snapped Carolina’s nine-game winning streak in decisive fashion, routing the Hurricanes 5-1 on Thursday night.


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