NHL Scores: Maple Leafs streak reaches 7; Penguins clinch playoff spot

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

While the Toronto Maple Leafs were doing everything they can to lose their playoff spot, the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched their eighth straight trip to the postseason on Friday night.

You knew it wasn't going to be a good night for the Toronto Maple Leafs when defenseman Dion Phaneuf, with his team already down two men, had to step in and take a faceoff against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first period. Naturally he lost it and Vincent Lecavalier, relegated to fourth-line duty on Friday, scored a power play goal almost instantly to get the Flyers off and running.

It was all downhill from there for the Maple Leafs as they extended their potentially season-crushing losing streak to seven games with a 4-2 loss in Philadelphia.

The only good news for the Maple Leafs after their latest loss? Probably the fact that Columbus wasn't able to pull ahead of them due to a loss of its own against Pittsburgh. Entering the weekend there remains a four-way logjam in the Eastern Conference wild card race with Detroit, Columbus, Washington and Toronto all tied with 80 points.

Detroit and Columbus currently own the two playoff spots by way of tiebreaker.

Toronto hosts Detroit on Saturday night in what should be a monster of a game, while Washington hosts Boston and Columbus visits Carolina.

In the Western Conference playoff race, the Stars picked up two huge points with a 7-3 blowout win over the Nashville Predators to pull to within three points of the the Phoenix Coyotes for the final wild card spot. It was the fifth time in the past six games that Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has given up at least four goals.

The Penguins clinched their eighth consecutive playoff spot with their win over the Blue Jackets, while the Blackhawks were surprisingly blown out by a struggling Ottawa team.

All the NHL Scores

Flyers 4, Maple Leafs 2

Penguins 2, Blue Jackets 1

Senators 5, Blackhawks 3

Stars 7, Predators 3

Flames 4, Rangers 3

Oilers 4, Ducks 3

Three Things We Learned

1. Martin St. Louis can't catch a break

It's now been 13 games for Martin St. Louis with the New York Rangers and he is still looking for his first goal with the team. He thought he had it in Calgary on Friday only to have it taken away because it was ruled that he kicked the puck in the net. This comes just a week after he was initially credited with a goal only to have it changed after a review determined that he never touched the puck. The Rangers were on the wrong end of a 4-3 decision against the Flames.

2. Beau Bennett could be a big deal for the Penguins

If Beau Bennett can stay healthy and get a real look from the Penguins' coaching staff he could be a huge addition to that lineup down the stretch and into the playoffs. He made his return from a wrist injury on Friday night and was the best player on the ice for either team. With Bennett on the ice at even-strength the Penguins attempted 19 shots to just five for Columbus, and he also scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in their 2-1 win. The Penguins desperately need depth and skill guys up front with all of their injuries, and Bennett is the type of guy that could potentially provide all of it.

3. Randy Carlyle better watch himself

Because Riddick Bowe is coming for him.

Impact Moment

The one play or moment from Friday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.

The Maple Leafs' seventh straight loss was another crushing blow to their playoff chances. Given their current place in the standings and the fact every team they're competing with has games in hand on them it's probably going to take five or six wins over their final seven games to get back into a playoff spot. With the way they're playing right now (and have played for most of the season) that seems like it is quite a long shot.

Stat of the Night

Playing on a Calgary team that's going to miss the playoffs yet again it's easy to miss the performance of defenseman Mark Giordano, but he's having an outstanding season that needs to be getting more attention. The Flames outshot New York 11-10 with him on the ice at even-strength on Friday night. When Giordano was off the ice, Calgary was outshot 30-11. That's called making an impact.

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