SAN JOSE, California–San Jose prevented its Western Conference rival Colorado from clinching the Central Division by beating the Sharks 5-1 on Friday, with Marty Havlat scoring his first hat trick in nearly nine years.
The Avalanche had the consolation that St. Louis also lost at Dallas, leaving the two teams tied on points with one game left in the regular season. Both teams remain in contention for not just the divisional title but also the Western Conference crown.
They are both four points clear of Chicago, which lost heavily at Washington but was already assured of finishing third.
San Jose also got goals from Dan Boyle and Patrick Marleau in their penultimate game. The Sharks are assured of finishing second in the Pacific Division and will start the playoffs at home next week against Los Angeles.
Patrick Bordeleau scored the lone goal for the Avalanche, who lost for the first time in regulation since March 21.
Colorado can win the division either by beating Pacific Division leader Anaheim on Sunday in the regular-season finale or if St. Louis loses in regulation earlier Sunday against Detroit.
Both Colorado and St. Louis remain a chance to take the Western Conference title, but will need Anaheim to lose on Saturday.
St. Louis is faltering in the closing stages of the season, having lost five in a row after the 3-0 loss at Dallas.
The victory clinched a playoff berth for the Stars — their first in six years, ending a franchise-worst five-year drought.
Trevor Daley had a goal and an assist, Tyler Seguin and Ryan Garbutt also scored, while Kari Lehtonen recorded his fifth shutout of the season.
Washington’s Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 51st goal as the Capitals beat Chicago 4-0 in a low-intensity game between teams whose postseason fates had already been decided.
Jay Beagle had his first career two-goal game, and Nicklas Backstrom also scored as the Capitals won their fourth straight, a hollow winning streak because they won’t be in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The Blackhawks, shut out for only the fourth time this season, were already assured third in the Central.
Tampa Bay moved above Montreal into second place in the Atlantic Division by beating Columbus 3-2.
Kristers Gudlevskis made 36 saves to win his NHL debut, Eric Brewer scored twice and Ondrej Palat also netted for the Lightning. If Tampa Bay can retain its one-point lead over Montreal, with one-game left, it will have home-ice advantage in its first-round playoff series with the Canadiens.
Boone Jenner and David Savard had goals for Columbus, which is tied with Philadelphia — which has one game at hand — for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Carolina won its first regular-season game at Detroit for 25 years — when the team was based in Hartford — by beating the Red Wings 2-1, with Cam Ward making 28 saves.
The New York Islanders beat New Jersey 3-2 in what may have been the final start for veteran Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, with no decision yet on whether he will start the season finale on Sunday.
Winnipeg’s Paul Postma scored his first goal of the season at 9:16 of the third period, and that stood as the winner in the Jets’ 5-3 win over Calgary.