tampabay.com

Buffalo clinches East spot

By wire services
Published April 4, 2006


TORONTO - Buffalo clinched its first playoff spot in five years when Maxim Afinogenov scored the only goal of the shootout in a 3-2 victory over Toronto on Monday night.

But Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was in no mood to celebrate. He was livid that former Lightning forward Darcy Tucker knocked out one of his best players, Jochen Hecht, with a long-term injury.

"We totally outworked them. It's unfortunate we have to be done in by a cheap shot at the end of the game by Tucker," Ruff said. "It was a knee on a knee hit. He goes after his head. He dives after; he's known as a diver. ... That's a joke. I want him suspended. I want him fined. ... I haven't called the league once. I'll call them 10 times tomorrow."

Afinogenov also scored in regulation and had an assist for the Sabres. Derek Roy also scored for the Sabres, who lost 7-0 to Toronto on Saturday night. Roy scored just 4:02 into the first period and Buffalo outshot Toronto 13-7 in the period.

'CANES 6, CAPITALS 5 (OT): Ray Whitney scored on a power play in overtime and Josef Vasicek had two goals and two assists in his return from injury as host Carolina won the first of three consecutive games between the teams. The teams meet again Wednesday and Friday, both in Washington. Vasicek played 15 minutes in his first game since Nov. 11, when he injured his knee against the Panthers. He earned the first four-point game of his five-year career.

SENATORS 6, THRASHERS 4: Dany Heatley scored twice to tie the team record for goals in a season for host Ottawa against his former team. Heatley, the second-leading goal-scorer in Thrashers history, put his name into the Senators' record book in his first season in Ottawa. He has 45 goals, tying the mark of Marian Hossa - the key player the Senators traded to Atlanta in the offseason to acquire Heatley. Atlanta remained ninth in the Eastern Conference and fell seven points behind the seventh-place Lightning.

BLUE JACKETS 3, PREDATORS 1: Manny Malhotra, Jason Chimera and Mark Hartigan each scored as visiting Columbus stretched its winning streak to a team-record six. Pascal LeClaire made 36 saves for the Blue Jackets, who lost three previous games this season in Nashville. Also, Columbus recalled Dan Fritsche to replace injured forward Nikolai Zherdev.

OILERS 7, COYOTES 1: Ethan Moreau, Sergei Samsonov and Michael Peca each had a goal and assist in a four-goal second for host Edmonton. Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky left the team after Saturday's 4-3 win in San Jose due to a family matter and didn't arrive until just before the game.

SHARKS 3, STARS 2 (OT): Joe Thornton scored a power-play goal with 20.2 seconds left in overtime for visiting San Jose, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Jason Arnott scored with 1:47 left in regulation for Dallas to force overtime.

AVALANCHE 4, BLACKHAWKS 3: Dan Hinote and Rob Blake scored in the final 58 seconds for host Colorado. Hinote scored from a tough angle with 12 seconds left as his shot bounced off the back of Nikolai Khabibulin's right pad and into the net.

RED WINGS 2, FLAMES 1 (SO): Pavel Datsyuk and Jason Williams scored and Chris Osgood stopped both Calgary tries in the shootout for visiting Detroit. Steve Yzerman tied it in the second period.