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Dallas Clinches Top Spot

From Associated Press

Dallas goaltender Ed Belfour survived an early power-play blitz by the Detroit Red Wings and finished with 44 saves to give the Stars a 3-1 victory Wednesday at Dallas and clinch the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Pat Verbeek scored twice as the Stars increased their point total to 107, three more than Detroit. The Stars also maintained their one-point lead over New Jersey in the Presidents’ Trophy race for the league’s best record and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

Toronto 3, Chicago 2--The Blackhawks’ streak of 28 consecutive playoff appearances ended after they lost at Toronto, Edmonton defeated the Mighty Ducks and the San Jose Sharks tied Calgary.

San Jose 3, Calgary 3--Jeff Friesen scored his sixth short-handed goal and added an assist at Calgary, Canada as the Sharks clinched their first playoff berth in three years.

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San Jose, riding a 4-0-3 surge, is eighth in the Western Conference.

Pittsburgh 5, Tampa Bay 1--Jaromir Jagr had a goal and two assists at Pittsburgh and had nothing bad to say about his coach as the Penguins clinched the Northeast Division title. They will be seeded second in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Jagr, who complained after Coach Kevin Constantine put him on the third line in the team’s previous game, was reunited with Ron Francis and Stu Barnes and assisted on goals by each. He also became the first player to score 100 points this season.

New Jersey 5, Buffalo 4--Scott Stevens scored on a slap shot with 21.7 seconds left in overtime at East Rutherford, N.J.

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Stevens’ shot eluded goaltender Steve Shields, who started because Dominik Hasek had an ear infection.

Boston 6, Montreal 2--Tim Taylor scored two goals and Byron Dafoe made 28 saves at Montreal to move the Bruins into fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

N.Y. Rangers 4, N.Y. Islanders 2--Alexei Kovalev scored a goal and assisted on two others at Madison Square Garden.

Both teams have been eliminated from the playoffs.

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Brian Leetch returned to the Rangers’ lineup after missing four games with post-concussion symptoms.


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