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Sabres clinch NHL's best record

Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller keeps an eye on the puck as Capitals' Brian Pothier looks on during the second period Saturday.
Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller keeps an eye on the puck as Capitals' Brian Pothier looks on during the second period Saturday.
Lawrence Jackson, Associated Press

Tim Connolly scored his first goal of the season, helping the Buffalo Sabres secure the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history.

Connolly scored in his return from a concussion sustained in last year's playoffs to help Buffalo beat the Capitals 2-0 on Saturday in Washington and clinch the best record in the NHL.

The Sabres' franchise-record 53rd win was enough to lock up the Presidents' Trophy title and home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs that begin next week.

Derek Roy and Connolly scored in the first 10 minutes, giving the Sabres a sufficient cushion and ensuring that the last-place Capitals would finish the season with the same point total (70) as last year.

Ryan Miller preserved the lead with his second shutout of the season. One game after setting a franchise, single-season record for wins, he stopped 26 shots for his 40th victory.

ISLANDERS 4, FLYERS 2: At Philadelphia, Wade Dubielewicz made 28 saves and New York stayed alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race by beating Philadelphia. Alexei Yashin, Miroslav Satan and Richard Park all scored for the Islanders. Tom Poti added an empty-net goal with 29 seconds left.

RED WINGS 7, BLACKHAWKS 2: At Detroit, Mikael Samuelsson had two goals and a career-high five points to lift Detroit over Chicago in the season finale for the host Red Wings. Detroit will be the Western Conference's top seeded team in the playoffs, but the Red Wings lost a chance to win the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's overall No. 1 when Buffalo beat Washington.

CANUCKS 4, SHARKS 3 (OT): At San Jose, Calif., Mattias Ohlund scored a power-play goal 34 seconds into overtime, and Vancouver clinched the Northwest Division title with a victory over San Jose. Roberto Luongo made 27 saves in his 47th win for the Canucks, who also clinched the Pacific Division title for the Anaheim Ducks by ending San Jose's five-game winning streak.

DUCKS 4, BLUE JACKETS 3: At Columbus, Ohio, Teemu Selanne had two goals, and Anaheim celebrated its first division title by beating Columbus. Dustin Penner and Ryan Getzlaf also scored for the Ducks, who found out just before the game that they had clinched the Pacific Division crown.

MAPLE LEAFS 6, CANADIENS 5: At Toronto, the Maple Leafs stayed alive and knocked out their biggest rivals, too. Trailing the Montreal Canadiens by one entering the third period, the Maple Leafs got power-play goals from Bryan McCabe and Kyle Wellwood and then held on in the final game for both teams. The Maple Leafs now need the New York Islanders to lose at New Jersey today to claim the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If New York wins, the Islanders are in.

THRASHERS 3, LIGHTNING 2 (SO): At Atlanta, Jonathan Sim's shootout goal gave Atlanta a win over Tampa Bay in the final regular-season game for both teams. Sim's shot past Johan Holmqvist gave Atlanta the shootout advantage.

PENGUINS 2, RANGERS 1: At Pittsburgh, Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi, the oldest players on a Pittsburgh team led by teenage scoring champion Sidney Crosby, scored goals and the Penguins completed one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in NHL history by beating the New York Rangers.

KINGS 3, COYOTES 2: At Los Angeles, rookie Anze Kopitar scored his 20th goal of the season with 53 seconds remaining and Los Angeles beat Phoenix, clinching last place in the Western Conference for the visiting Coyotes. The Kings avoided finishing last by beating their Pacific Division rivals and snapping a six-game losing streak.

SENATORS 6, BRUINS 3: At Boston, Dany Heatley's 50th goal of the season helped Ottawa clinch home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Heatley became the first player with consecutive seasons of at least 50 goals since Pavel Bure did it with Florida in 2001 and 2002.

HURRICANES 5, PANTHERS 4 (OT): At Raleigh, N.C., Rod Brind'Amour scored on a breakaway with 24 seconds left in overtime to lift Carolina to a season-ending victory over Florida. David Tanabe scored twice, and Erik Cole and Eric Staal added third-period goals to help Carolina rally from a three-goal deficit for the second time this season on home ice against Florida.

WILD 5, BLUES 1: At St. Paul, Minn., the Minnesota Wild cruised in their final tuneup before the playoffs, getting 24 saves from Niklas Backstrom in a victory over St. Louis. Wyatt Smith had two goals, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Branko Radivojevic and Wes Walz also scored for the Wild, who will meet Anaheim in the first round of the playoffs..

PREDATORS 4, AVALANCHE 2: At Denver, Colorado will be home for the playoffs for the first time since 1994 thanks to former Avalanche players Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg. Kariya scored the game winner 10:38 into the third period on a pass from Forsberg to help the Nashville Predators beat the Avalanche 4-2 on Saturday night, knocking Colorado out of the playoff race.