Panthers' drought ends despite loss to Capitals

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WASHINGTON — The Florida Panthers ended one of the longest playoff droughts in major North American sports Thursday night despite a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, who also earned a postseason bid to complete the eight-team field for the Eastern Conference.

Washington's Troy Brouwer celebrates his assist which led to a goal by Brooks Laich in the second period as Florida's Marcel Goc and goalie Jose Theodore look on.  EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS
EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Washington's Troy Brouwer celebrates his assist which led to a goal by Brooks Laich in the second period as Florida's Marcel Goc and goalie Jose Theodore look on.

Both teams qualified after Buffalo lost 2-1 at Philadelphia, eliminating the Sabres.

FLYERS 2, SABRES 1

In Philadelphia, Matt Read and Marc-Andre Bourdon each scored goals to lead Philadelphia to a win over Buffalo that eliminated the Sabres from a postseason spot.

The Sabres needed to beat the Flyers and have Florida top Washington to keep their faint playoff hopes alive heading into their final game of the season.

PENGUINS 5, RANGERS 2

In Pittsburgh, Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves to tie the Pittsburgh franchise record for wins and the Penguins clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win over New York.

Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang each had a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh, which will be the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference for the fourth consecutive season.

DEVILS 2, RED WINGS 1

In Detroit, Petr Sykora broke a tie with 8:40 left, Alexei Ponikarovsky also had a goal and Martin Brodeur made 23 saves in New Jersey’s win over Detroit.

Tomas Holmstrom scored for Detroit, fighting Central Division rivals Nashville and Chicago for home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

MAPLE LEAFS 3, LIGHTNING 2 (OT)

In Toronto, Steven Stamkos scored his 59th goal of the season, but Dion Phaneuf scored the winner in overtime for Toronto.

ISLANDERS 5, JETS 4

In Uniondale, N.Y., Michael Grabner scored his second go-ahead goal of the third period with just 46.8 seconds left, John Tavares set up two others to reach 50 assists this season, and the Islanders ended their home schedule with a win.

BRUINS 3, SENATORS 1

In Ottawa, Anton Khudobin stopped 44 shots in his Bruins debut and Boston defeated the Senators.

Greg Zanon, Benoit Pouliot and Milan Lucic scored for the Bruins.

HURRICANES 2, CANADIENS 1 (SO)

In Raleigh, N.C., Eric Staal scored in the shootout to lead Carolina.

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