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Hurricanes seal playoffs spot with overtime win

ANTON Babchuk's overtime goal clinched a playoff spot for the Carolina Hurricanes as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 for their eighth consecutive victory on Saturday.

Babchuk slapped the puck past Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury just over a minute into the extra session, sending the Hurricanes into the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the year they won the Stanley Cup.

"All of a sudden (Tim) Gleason gave me a nice flip pass and I just tried to shoot it through the guys in front of the net," Babchuk said.

Carolina goaltender Cam Ward made 33 saves, including a breakaway by Sidney Crosby and a third-period penalty shot by Evgeni Malkin, as the Hurricanes improved to 12-1-2 in their past 15 games.

"He (Ward) kept it going with a huge night," said Eric Staal, who scored Carolina's first goal.

The win, its 11th successive at home, puts Carolina (44-28-7) a spot behind fourth-placed Philadelphia (42-25-11), with both teams tied on 95 points in the tight Eastern Conference race. Pittsburgh (42-27-9) is two points behind in sixth.

In other National Hockey League games, it was: Bruins 1, Rangers 0; Ducks 5, Sharks 2; Devils 3, Sabres 2; Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 2; Senators 4, Flyers 3 (in a shootout); Oilers 5, Canucks 3; Islanders 3, Lightning 1; Predators 5, Blue Jackets 4 (in SO); Stars 5, Blues 4 (in OT); and Kings 6, Coyotes 1.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Chad LaRose provided Carolina's other goal and Ray Whitney contributed two assists, including the second on Babchuk's game-winner.

Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal had Pittsburgh's goals.

Kennedy gave Pittsburgh the early lead on a backhanded shot 5:49 into the game.

Carolina netted the next two on Staal's wrist shot 13:25 into the first and LaRose's goal just 57 seconds into the second period.

Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal, Eric's brother, tied the score at 2-2, 3:34 into the third.


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