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Canucks inch closer to Presidents' Trophy

Tuesday, 03.15.2011 / 1:05 AM / Countdown to the Playoffs

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Canucks inch closer to Presidents' Trophy
The Vancouver Canucks took another step towards claiming the Presidents' Trophy on Monday night.
The Vancouver Canucks took another step towards claiming the Presidents' Trophy on Monday night.

Behind Ryan Kesler's 35h and 36th goals of the season, the Canucks held off the Minnesota Wild in a 4-2 victory at Rogers Arena.

The win -- which was the Canucks' sixth straight -- moved them a full 10 points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers in the overall standings. Now 11 points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings with 11 games remaining, Vancouver has all but wrapped up home-ice advantage through the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Red Wings, however, have two games in hand.

In the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled within three points of the Washington Capitals in the Southeast Division with a convincing 6-2 win at Toronto. The loss left the Maple Leafs six points behind Buffalo and the New York Rangers in the race for the final playoff spots.

Here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Monday's games:

Eastern Conference

Division leaders

Philadelphia (91 points) was off again, preparing for a three-game road trip that begins on Tuesday at Florida.

Washington (90 points), winners of eight straight, was off Monday. Now just one point behind the Flyers, the Caps visit Montreal on Tuesday night.

Boston (85 points) had a third night off after back-to-back losses to the Sabres and Islanders. The Bruins return to action on Tuesday night in Columbus.

The next five:

Pittsburgh (88 points) was also idle Monday, although it received some good news as captain Sidney Crosby skated briefly in the morning. The Penguins visit Ottawa on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay
(87 points after Monday's 6-2 win at Toronto) enjoyed a solid performance against the Maple Leafs and pulled within three points of first-place Washington in the Southeast Division. The Bolts will visit Montreal on Thursday.

Montreal (83 points) was off on Monday. The Canadiens, who trail Boston by just two points in the Northeast Division, will host the Capitals at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.

Buffalo (76 points) enjoyed a night off after Sunday's 6-4 win against Ottawa. The Sabres have a huge game on Tuesday night as they host the Carolina Hurricanes at HSBC Arena.

New York Rangers (76 points) spent Monday adjusting back to the Eastern time zone after spending roughly five days in California. The Blueshirts return to the ice on Tuesday against the Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

On the outside looking in:

Carolina (72 points) was idle Monday. The Hurricanes, who are winless in four straight, will visit Buffalo -- who are four points ahead of them -- on Tuesday night.

Toronto (70 points after Monday's 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay) failed to earn any points in the standings as they lost to the Bolts at the Air Canada Centre. Now without Colby Armstrong (broken foot) for likely the remainder of the season, the Maple Leafs visit Carolina on Wednesday.

Atlanta (70 points) did not play Monday. The Thrashers, who rallied for an impressive win at Philadelphia on Saturday, will visit New Jersey on Tuesday night.
 
New Jersey (68 points) was also idle Monday. The Devils, who are 22-3-2 in their last 27 games, host the Thrashers on Tuesday at the Prudential Center. Eight points out of a playoff spot, New Jersey has two games in hand on the Rangers and one on Buffalo.

Florida (65 points) did not play Monday. The Panthers will host Philadelphia on Tuesday night at the BankAtlantic Center.

New York Islanders
(65 points) were also off Monday. The Isles, who are tied with Washington for the most points (50) in the Eastern Conference since Dec. 16, will face the Rangers in Manhattan on Tuesday night.

Western Conference


Division leaders:

Vancouver (101 points after Monday's 4-2 win against Minnesota) moved a full 10 points ahead of Philadelphia atop the League standings with its sixth straight win. The Canucks will look to make it seven in a row on Wednesday night against Colorado at Rogers Arena.

Detroit (90 points) was off Monday, but its Central Division lead was trimmed to six points due to Chicago's victory against San Jose. The Wings will host the Caps on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

San Jose (86 points after Monday's 6-3 loss to Chicago) failed to earn any points after it allowed five second-period goals en route to a disappointing defeat at the United Center. Still three points ahead of Los Angeles atop the Pacific Division, the Sharks return to action on Tuesday night at Dallas.

The next five:

Chicago (84 points after Monday's 6-3 win against San Jose) jumped into fourth place with an impressive win against the Sharks. The Blackhawks now have the next two nights off before they return to the ice against Dallas on Thursday.

Los Angeles (83 points) was idle Monday night, although they fell from fourth to fifth due to Chicago's victory. The Kings will visit Nashville on Tuesday night.

Phoenix (83 points) was also off on Monday. The Coyotes have three games in four nights in Western Canada, beginning with Calgary on Tuesday.

Dallas (82 points) did not play Monday. The Stars continue their homestand on Tuesday against San Jose.

Calgary (81 points) was idle Monday. The Flames, who have lost consecutive games for the first time since the first week of January, host Phoenix on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.

On the outside looking in:

Nashville (80 points) was also off Monday. Off to a perfect 2-0 start to their five-game homestand, the Predators return to action on Tuesday against Los Angeles.

Anaheim (79 points) did not play Monday. The Ducks will try to rebound from Sunday night's 5-2 loss to Phoenix on Wednesday, when they'll host St. Louis.

Minnesota (77 points after Monday's 4-2 loss at Vancouver) saw its rally come up and short and ultimately suffered its third straight defeat. The Wild will visit San Jose on Thursday before returning home to face Columbus on Saturday.

Columbus (73 points) was idle Monday. The Blue Jackets will host the Bruins on Tuesday night.

Quote of the Day

I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level