The President's Trophy doesn't mean much when compared to the Stanley Cup, but the Chicago Black hawks don't mind the practice at winning awards.
Dirk Graham scored the tie-breaking goal and added another in the third period to power the Blackhawks to the Norris Division title and the best record in the NHL with a 5-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.Mike Hudson also scored a goal and assisted on two others as the Blackhawks claimed their first President's Trophy. Chicago finished the regular season with a 49-23-8 record for 106 points, one point better than division rival St. Louis. The Blues beat Minnesota 2-1 earlier in the evening to complete the season with a 47-22-11 mark.
"We're only at the halfway mark here," Chicago Coach Mike Keenan said.
Chicago's 49 wins tied the club record set in 1970-71 and marked the fifth time in the Blackhawks' history that they have reached the 100-point plateau.
The team has finished first overall in the NHL in two other seasons - 1966-67 with 94 points and 1969-70 with 99 points.
"It's (President's Trophy) not going to matter much Thursday," Hudson said. "Minnesota isn't going to stop and say, `Hey, these guys have the best record.' "
The Blackhawks will open the Norris Division best-of-seven semifinal playoffs Thursday against the North Stars, while St. Louis will meet Detroit.
Goaltender Ed Belfour made 34 saves Sunday in picking up his league-leading 43rd win, helping Chicago maintain its ranking as the No. 1 defensive team in the league.
"Eddie, in that second period, stopped guys from point-blank range," Hudson said. "He's a pressure goalie. He's there when it counts."
Chicago now is unbeaten in 11 of its last 12 games, while Detroit has lost four of its last five games.
Bruins 7, Whalers 3
At Boston, Bob Sweeney and Ken Hammond scored 48 seconds apart to key the Bruins' four-goal first period. A total of 210 minutes in penalties were called, including seven misconducts. Bruins enforcer Chris Nilan was whistled for 42 penalty minutes.
Sabres 5, Capitals 2
At Buffalo, N.Y., Alexander Mogilny recorded his first NHL hat trick to lead the Sabres. The loss left the Capitals in third place in the Patrick Division, giving the Rangers home-ice in their upcoming playoff series with Washington.
Blues 2, North Stars 1
At St. Louis, Brett Hull scored his 86th goal of the season and Vincent Riendeau stopped 27 shots to lead the Blues. The goal gave Hull the third-highest total in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky, who had seasons of 92 and 87 goals for Edmonton.
Rangers 6, Penguins 3
At New York, Mike Gartner scored his 49th goal of the season and Steven Rice added his first NHL goal to help the Rangers clinch second place in the Patrick Division.
Islanders 3, Devils 2
At East Rutherford, N.J., Randy Wood scored twice, including a short-handed goal in the second period, to give the Islanders the victory.
Flames 5, Kings 3
At Calgary, Alberta, Sergei Makarov scored a pair of goals to lead the Flames over Los Angeles. Makarov broke a 3-3 tie with a 20-foot backhand shot through goaltender Daniel Berthiaume's legs 10 seconds into a Calgary power play for his 30th goal of the season.
Oilers 6, Jets 3
At Edmonton, Alberta, Petr Klima hit the 40-goal mark with a hat trick and Grant Fuhr blocked 46 shots to lead the Oilers. The win lifted Edmonton to the .500 mark with 80 points, 10 fewer than their final total last season.
Nordiques 4, Canadiens 1
At Quebec, Stephane Morin scored twice and Ron Tugnutt turned aside 28 of 29 shots lead the Nordiques.