The New York Rangers became the last team in the National Hockey League to clinch a playoff berth, but the way in which they did it was no cause for celebration.
While the Rangers were losing at home to the powerful Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night, the Rangers had to depend upon their hated rivals from nearby Long Island, the Islanders, to clinch the final spot in the Patrick Division for them.
The Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the Islanders, 4-3, and were eliminated.
The Rangers, who opened the season with high hopes of winning the Stanley Cup, fell to 25-43-10 when backup Philadelphia goaltender, Bob Froese stopped 29 shots to lead the Flyers to a 2-1 victory.
Froese, who shut out the Rangers Saturday in his first appearance since suffering a groin injury March 10, had another in the works until Anders Hedberg knocked in a rebound late in the second period.
The victory was the 51st of the season for Flyers and it gave them 109 points, the highest total in the league. It was also their 22nd victory in their last 26 games.
Rookies Len Hachborn and Todd Bergen scored for the Flyers to enable them to complete a sweep of their seven games with the Rangers this season. Overall, the Flyers have beaten the Rangers nine times in a row. The teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs.
The 43 defeats is a club record for the Rangers. They will make the playoffs because they are playing in a league where all but five teams qualify for postseason play.
The Rangers have only 60 points. It has been 20 years since they had fewer points in a season.
New York Islanders 4, Pittsburgh 3--The Penguins fought the Islanders on nearly even terms at Uniondale, N.Y., but Clark Gillies scored on a power play midway through the final period to give the Islanders the victory.
The Islanders jumped off to a 3-1 lead, but Mario Lemieux, the top rookie scorer with 96 points, set up two goals for the Penguins to tie it in the second period.
Quebec 6, Boston 4--Michel Goulet and J. F. Sauve each scored twice at Quebec to enable the Nordiques to pull into a tie for first place with Montreal in the hot Adams Division race.
Both have 89 points with three games remaining. The Nordiques have an edge in victories, 40-39, which could be decisive if the teams tie.
The Bruins rested four regulars, Butch Goring, Terry O'Reilly, Pete Peeters and Mike O'Connell.
St. Louis 8, New Jersey 4--Pat Hickey scored twice in a five-goal second period at St. Louis that enabled the Blues to end a three-game losing streak and increase their lead in the Norris Division to four points.
The Blues need three points in their last three games to clinch the division.
The game was tied, 1-1, when Greg Paslawski began the second-period spurt at 2:44. The Devils scored once in the period.
Buffalo 2, Hartford 1--The Sabres want to be counted in in the battle for the Adams Division title. On a power play early in the third period at Buffalo, John Tucker tipped in a goal to give the Sabres their fourth win in a row and put them just a point behind Montreal and Quebec.
The Whalers had only 19 shots on goal against backup goaltender Bob Sauve. Sauve was in goal because Tom Barrasso was hospitalized with an allergic reaction on his lower left leg.