SPORTS

NHL: 6 stories from Saturday's season finales

04/12/2015 01:55 EDT | Updated 06/15/2015 09:59 EDT
Ottawa clinched a post-season spot with a win over Philadelphia and will face Atlantic champion Montreal, while Winnipeg routed Calgary to ensure the Flames will open the playoffs on the road against Vancouver as the Jets get ready to take on top Western seed Anaheim.

Oh, and the scoring race ended in thrilling fashion, with the winner taking it with a hat trick and a dying-seconds assist.

Here are six stories from a whirlwind final day of the NHL's regular season that set up the first-round playoff matchups, including a pair of all-Canadian series:

Sens earn playoff date with Habs

The Senators got the day started with a 3-1 afternoon win in Philadelphia that sent Ottawa back to the playoffs after a one-year absence. 

Andrew Hammond made 34 saves for his 20th win since the team recalled him from the minors in mid-February, and fellow rookie Mark Stone scored twice to finish as the NHL's top freshman scorer with 64 points (his 26 goals give him the tiebreaker edge over Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau).

Stone and Hammond keyed an improbable 22-4-4 run to end the season that transformed Ottawa from an also-ran into a wild-card playoff team that will face Atlantic Division champion Montreal in the opening round.

Canadiens win division

Montreal needed only a point at Toronto to win its division but did one better by beating the Leafs 4-3 in a shootout. It's the Habs' second division title in three years (they won the old Northeast in the lockout-shortened 2013 season).

The Canadiens will have home-ice advantage against a Senators team they struggled with this season. Ottawa won three of the four meetings, all of which were decided in regulation.

Jets prep for Ducks by routing Flames

Winnipeg went into the playoffs on a high note, pounding Calgary 5-1 in front of an appreciative home crowd buzzing in anticipation of its city's first Stanley Cup playoff game since 1996.

The Jets own the second wild-card spot in the West and found out later they will meet Anaheim, the conference's top seed. The Ducks secured that position by beating Arizona 2-1.

Canucks' Miller returns

Calgary was already locked in to a first-round matchup against Vancouver, and its loss to Winnipeg gave the Canucks home-ice advantage.

With nothing to play for in the final game of the night, Vancouver still defeated Edmonton 6-5 in overtime. Canucks goalie Ryan Miller played for the first time since hurting his knee on Feb. 22 and may have been a bit rusty, allowing five goals on 28 shots.

Pens in, Bruins out

Pittsburgh avoided disaster by grabbing the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 2-0 win at Buffalo that kept the Penguins from missing the post-season for the first time since Sidney Crosby's rookie year. Brandon Sutter scored both goals for the Pens, who will face the Presidents' Trophy-winning New York Rangers.

The Penguins have been hamstrung by injuries down the stretch. Kris Letang will reportedly not return this season after suffering another concussion, and fellow defenceman Christian Ehrhoff also missed the Buffalo game as he tries to recover from a suspected concussion that's kept him out since March 24. Star centre Evgeni Malkin also missed time down the stretch.

Pittsburgh's playoff berth came at the expense of Boston, which last missed out in 2007.

Benn grabs Art Ross

The finish to the NHL's scoring race may have been just as exciting as the playoff stuff. Dallas' Jamie Benn came into the night trailing co-leaders John Tavares and Sidney Crosby by a point, and looked to be out of it after Tavares added a couple more.

But Benn scored a hat trick against Nashville to move into a tie with Tavares, and then, with only nine seconds remaining, assisted on a Cody Eakin goal to take the lead. The helper, which came after Nashville reinserted its goalie following Benn's hat-trick-completing empty-netter with 2:05 left, won Benn his first Art Ross Trophy. The 25-year-old winger would have lost the tiebreaker to Tavares because the Islander scored more goals.

Benn finished the season on a tear, racking up 10 points in his final three games.

MORE:cbcSports