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Sharks, Bruins top as playoff matchups set

THE San Jose Sharks and the Boston Bruins will be the top conference seedings when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin tomorrow.

The league-leading Sharks will host the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks on Thursday in one of four Western Conference opening series, the National Hockey League said on Sunday.

Defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit (2) will open at home against Columbus (7) on Thursday, Vancouver (3) hosts St Louis (6) tomorrow and Chicago (4) will face Calgary (5).

In the East, conference leader Boston will host Montreal (8) on Thursday, while second-placed Washington will begin its series against New York Rangers (7) at home tomorrow.

New Jersey (3) will meet Carolina (6) at Newark tomorrow, while Pittsburgh (4) hosts Philadelphia (5).

St Louis' 1-0 victory at Colorado on Sunday, the final day of the regular season, determined the final Western pairings.

In the East, Philadelphia's 3-4 loss to the Rangers on Sunday gave Pittsburgh fourth place and the home-ice advantage in their series.

In other NHL games on Sunday, it was: Blackhawks 3, Red Wings 0; and Bruins 6, Islanders 2.

Sixth shutout

In Denver, Colorado, Chris Mason made 28 saves for his sixth shutout of the season, helping the St Louis Blues take the sixth playoff spot in the West with victory over the Avalanche.

In the playoffs for the first time in five years, the Blues won nine of their final 11 games.

Brad Boyes scored the only goal.

In Philadelphia, Sean Avery and Blair Betts scored third-period goals to lift New York past Philadelphia.

Brandon Dubinsky scored two goals for the Rangers.

His second goal was short-handed, wrecking Philadelphia's shot at becoming the first team in NHL history to play an entire season without allowing one. The Flyers' streak of 103 games without surrendering a short-handed goal was the longest since Montreal went 122 games from March 1975 to November 1976.

Jeff Carter scored his 46th goal to finish second behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin (56) for the NHL lead.

Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin won the NHL's scoring honors.

Malkin was the leading scorer with a career-high 113 points (35 goals, 78 assists). Ovechkin, last year's leader, had 110 points (56 goals, 54 assists).


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