Evgeni Malkin scored twice, James Neal had four assists and the host Pittsburgh Penguins clinched a playoff spot with a 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis also scored to help Pittsburgh pull within a point of the New York Rangers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, with nine games remaining. Marc-Andre Fluery made 29 saves for his NHL-leading 40th victory.

Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby was held without a goal for the 12th game in a row, but it hardly stopped the Penguins from winning their ninth consecutive home game. Nashville's Alexander Radulov scored in his return to the NHL after four years in Russia, but the Penguins picked apart Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. He allowed two goals in the first 5 minutes.

Flyers 2, Capitals 1 • Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds scored shootout goals to give host Philadelphia a victory over Washington. Claude Giroux scored his 27th goal for the Flyers, and Alex Ovechkin had his 33rd for the Capitals.

Lightning 3, Oilers 2 • Teddy Purcell scored in the sixth round of a shootout and Tampa Bay defeated visiting Edmonton. Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis also scored in the extra session, helping the Lightning win the shootout 3-2.

Wild 3, Flames 2 • Devin Setoguchi scored in the fourth round of a shootout in host Minnesota's victory over Calgary.

Dany Heatley and Darroll Powe scored in regulation for the Wild. Josh Harding stopped 27 shots and all four Flames shots in the shootout.

Canucks 2, Stars 1 • Cory Schneider made 25 saves and stopped a penalty shot, Mason Raymond scored early in the first period to help visiting Vancouver win..


Bettman says league ready to start bargaining talks • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league has been ready for months to meet with the player's union to negotiate a new contract, but the NHLPA hasn't yet indicated that it's ready. The current seven-year deal is set to expire Sept. 15.