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NHL: Lightning Edges Thrashers in Shootout, Earns Playoff Berth


The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Atlanta Thrashers 3-2 in a shootout to hold on to the last playoff berth in the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference.

Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards scored in the shootout to lift the Lightning on their home ice. Tampa Bay has the eighth and final place in conference standings with six games to go in the regular season. They won the Stanley Cup at the end of the N.H.L. season in 2004. The 2005 season was canceled due to a lockout.

New York's Martin Straka scored a pair of goals to help the Rangers beat cross-river rival, the New York Islanders 3-1.

Out west, the Dallas Stars beat the host Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 5-3 to clinch the Pacific Division title.

The Edmonton Oilers fell 2-1 to the Minnesota Wild in a shootout. Brian Rolston scored in the shootout against his former team to lift the Wild at home.

Other N.H.L. winners Thursday were the Canadiens, Bruins, Predators and Sharks.

The Montreal Canadiens matched their longest winning streak in more than 13 years, beating the Ottawa Senators 5-3 for their eighth straight win. The Boston Bruins scored the only goal in a shootout to edge the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. The Nashville Predators shut out St. Louis 3-0, as the Blues lost a franchise record 12th consecutive game, and the San Jose Sharks moved a step closer to the playoffs after crushing the Los Angeles Kings 5-0.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
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