Cam Tucker

Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) blocks a shot as Vancouver Canucks center Markus Granlund (60), of Finland, and defenseman Korbinian Holzer (5), of Germany, vie for the rebound during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, April 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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Comeback Canucks sweep brief California trip

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Well, who could’ve possibly seen this coming?

The Vancouver Canucks had been on an ugly nine-game losing streak but have snapped that with back-to-back wins on a brief two-game California trip against the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks — you know, playoff teams.

On Friday, they even fell behind the Ducks in the third period when Nate Thompson scored his second goal of the season. But from out of nowhere and with a depleted roster, the Canucks came back.

Dan Hamhuis and Emerson Etem tallied just 2:21 apart and the Canucks held on for a 3-2 victory, much to the dismay of some in the fan base hoping for the highest draft position possible later this month.

It’s not like the Canucks were the dominant team in the third period, either. They were outshot 20-6 but scored quickly to completely change the complexion of the game.

After consecutive wins, the Canucks move all the way to 25th in the NHL’s overall standings with four games remaining on their schedule. They face the L.A. Kings on Monday with a chance for their first three-game winning streak of this season.

The Canucks did lose two more forwards — Chris Higgins and Linden Vey — in addition to Sven Baertschi leaving Thursday’s game due to injury.

Meanwhile, the Ducks missed out on an opportunity to jump back ahead of the Kings for top spot in the Pacific Division.

Capitals set new franchise record with 55th win

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They’ve already locked up the Presidents’ Trophy.

And now the Washington Capitals have set a new franchise record with their 55th win of the season, besting their previous mark of 54 set back in 2009-10, courtesy a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.

With the team continuing on this historic regular season — what can they do in the playoffs? — there are a few individual milestones left to decide.

Alex Ovechkin scored Friday and is up to 45 goals. The Capitals still have five games remaining in their season, so 50 for Ovechkin is still a possibility.

Goaltender Braden Holtby earned the win versus the Avalanche, giving him 47 on the season. He’s now only one back of Martin Brodeur for most wins in a single season by an NHL goalie.

Now, Barry Trotz could opt to give his workhorse netminder some time off in the closing games of the regular season to make sure he’s rested for the post-season. But with five games remaining, it definitely seems possible Holtby could at least tie that mark.

As for the Avalanche, who had Matt Duchene back in their lineup, well, Friday’s loss was devastating to their already fading playoff hopes.

The loss keeps Colorado five points back of the Minnesota Wild for the final Wild Card spot in the West, with four games remaining on their schedule.

The Nashville Predators also clinch a playoff spot.

Bruins hold off furious Blues comeback attempt to maintain playoff spot

Boston Bruins’ David Krejci, of the Czech Republic, celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues, Friday, April 1, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)
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OK, so it got a little close at the end there.

But the Boston Bruins are back into a playoff spot — for now, anyway — after a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Blues, punctuated by a crazy third period in which the Blues nearly completed the comeback.

That’s certainly the last thing Boston would want to give up in that situation given it is clinging to a post-season position.

The Bruins, trying to regain their footing after a five-game losing streak late last month, looked to be in great shape to easily take two points after opening up a three-goal lead after two periods, before the Blues started to quickly chip away.

Robert Bortuzzo and Alex Pietrangelo scored less than four minutes apart to close that gap to just one goal even before the midway part of the third period.

But Patrice Bergeron, so reliable as that two-way center for Boston, restored the lead with his 30th goal of the season and less than four minutes remaining.

That goal turned out to be the winner, as the Blues pulled back to within a goal with 20 seconds remaining in regulation — just to add to the drama of the Bruins’ situation.

The win moves Boston back into third in the Atlantic Division by a single point, after temporarily giving up that post to the Detroit Red Wings after they were victorious versus Minnesota earlier in the evening.

 

Video: Wilson levels Avalanche D-man Zadorov with huge hit

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Washington Capitals hard-hitting forward Tom Wilson crushed Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov with a massive hit behind the net during Friday’s game.

The hit occurred as Zadorov was playing the puck deep in his defensive zone. As he came around the net, Wilson, who had just come off the bench into the play, met him there in a huge collision.

Zadorov remained down on the ice before being helped off with the help of teammates and a member of the training staff.

There was no call on the play.

 

Red Wings hold on versus Wild, as East playoff race tightens

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The Eastern Conference playoff race is coming right down to the wire.

The Detroit Red Wings, fighting for a 25th consecutive Stanley Cup playoff appearance, remain in the hunt after they held on to defeat the Minnesota Wild by a score of 3-2 on Friday. Riley Sheahan got credit for the winner while Jimmy Howard stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced.

Minnesota still maintains its Wild Card spot in the West, despite the loss. Whether the Colorado Avalanche can close the gap, which stood at five points, depends first on how they do against the league-leading Washington Capitals on Friday.

Now, because of this result, Detroit, at least temporarily, took over third in the Atlantic Division ahead of the Boston Bruins. (The Bruins, who for the moment moved out of a playoff spot, were winning, with a two-goal lead over St. Louis in the third period as of this post.)

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