MATTHEWS, LAINE DUEL AS MAPLE LEAFS WIN OT THRILLER
Rookie forwards Auston Matthews (0-3-3) and Patrik Laine (2-0-2), the top two picks from the 2016 NHL Draft, each had multiple points in their second and final head-to-head game of the season when the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Winnipeg Jets in thrilling fashion, with Matthews earning the lone assist on Jake Gardiner's overtime goal.
* At 28-20-11 (67 points), the Maple Leafs again leapfrogged the idle Florida Panthers (28-20-10, 66 points) and Boston Bruins (30-23-6, 66 points) into third place in the Atlantic Division.
* Elias notes that Matthews, 19, became the second teenager in Maple Leafs history to earn at least 50 points in a season (28-24-52), joining Ted Kennedy who had 54 (29 goals, 25 assists) as a 19-year-old in 1944-45 (49 GP).
* Matthews scored at least three points for the fourth time this season to move within two points of Laine (30-24-54) for the rookie scoring lead. William Nylander (1-1-2) factored on two tying goals for the Maple Leafs, who have three players among the top four in rookie scoring: Matthews, Mitchell Marner (15-33-48) and Nylander (17-25-42).
* Laine, who has five goals in two games against the Maple Leafs this season (also 3-0-3 on Oct. 19), became the first rookie in Jets/Thrashers franchise history to score 30 goals in a season, besting the previous mark of 29 set by Ilya Kovalchuk in 2001-02. Elias notes that Laine, who ranks second in goals behind Sidney Crosby (33), became the fifth rookie in the past 25 seasons to score 30 goals in 55 or fewer games played.
Video: Gardiner's OT winner lifts Leafs past Jets
Home Team in Caps
Pittsburgh 3, CAROLINA 1
Montreal 3, NY RANGERS 2 (SO)
Ottawa 2, NEW JERSEY 1
NY Islanders 3, DETROIT 1
TAMPA BAY 4, Edmonton 1
TORONTO 5, Winnipeg 4 (OT)
Chicago 5, MINNESOTA 3
Calgary 6, NASHVILLE 5 (OT)
Los Angeles 2, COLORADO 1
TOEWS, GAUDREAU SHINE IN CRUCIAL WINS FOR BLACKHAWKS, FLAMES
The Chicago Blackhawks (37-18-5, 79 points) and Calgary Flames (30-26-4, 64 points) each earned victories in crucial games on the strength of standout performances by marquee players:
* Jonathan Toews (3-2-5) matched NHL career highs for goals and points in a game to help the Blackhawks defeat the Minnesota Wild (39-14-6, 84 points) and move within five points of Minnesota for the top spot in the Central Division and Western Conference. Toews had his fourth career regular-season hat trick -- and first since Oct. 29, 2013 against the Ottawa Senators (3-1-4) -- and became the first Blackhawks player to score five points in a game since he achieved the feat on Nov. 25, 2011 at the Anaheim Ducks (2-3-5).
* Elias notes that Chicago picked up its seventh consecutive road win to match the longest single-season road win streak in its history originally set Dec. 9-29, 1964.
* Johnny Gaudreau (0-4-4) established an NHL career high with four assists, and had his second four-point game in the League (also Dec. 4, 2015 vs. BOS: 3-1-4), to help the Flames gain ground on the Nashville Predators (28-22-9, 65 points) for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Calgary holds a two-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings (29-26-4, 62 points) and Jets (28-29-6, 62 points), the two closest teams outside the playoff picture.
* The Flames built a 4-1 lead before Nashville pulled ahead on the strength of a second-period hat trick by Filip Forsberg (3-0-3), his third three-goal game in the regular season.
Video: Giordano nets OT winner as Flames beat Predators, 6-5
BATTLE FOR THE ATLANTIC INTENSIFIES
The Montreal Canadiens (32-20-8, 72 points) and Senators (32-20-6, 70 points) each earned wins to keep pace in the race for first place in the Atlantic Division:
* Carey Price made 28 saves through overtime, including a sprawling stop late in the extra frame, to guide the Canadiens to victory, their first since naming Claude Julien as coach on Feb. 14. Price earned his 258th NHL win (all w/ MTL; 492 GP) to tie Ken Dryden (397 GP) for third place in Canadiens history behind Jacques Plante (314 W in 556 GP) and Patrick Roy (289 W in 551 GP).
* Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson each scored for the Senators -- who were without three regular forwards, including two of their top four point-getters -- to help Ottawa win for the fifth time in its past seven games. Karlsson (537 GP) scored his 21st NHL game-winning goal (third this season) to tie Wade Redden (838 GP) for the most all-time among Senators defensemen.
Sidney Crosby scored his League-leading 33rd goal (fifth GWG) to help the Pittsburgh Penguins win their final game before facing the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series . . . Nikita Kucherov (1-3-4) helped the Tampa Bay Lightning extend their point streak to seven games (5-0-2) . . . The New York Islanders (28-21-10, 66 points) and Kings (29-26-4, 62 points) earned wins to inch closer to wild card spots . . . As part of their centennial anniversary, the Maple Leafs will pay tribute to one of the earliest eras of their history by wearing Toronto St. Pats uniforms for their game against the Blackhawks on March 18 . . . Penguins forwards Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust, and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats will visit Heinz Field in Pittsburgh today as the rink build nears completion ahead of outdoor game Saturday . . . The Columbus Blue Jackets organization marked Hockey Week Across America with a sled hockey game at their outdoor facility . . . The Detroit Red Wings hosted more than 50 youth and adult players at their morning skate as part of Hockey Is For Everyone month . . . Alex Delvecchio, one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players, dropped the ceremonial puck ahead of the Islanders-Red Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.
SNEAK PEEK AT WEDNESDAY'S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Edmonton @ Florida, 7:30 p.m., SN, FS-F
Washington @ Philadelphia, 8 p.m., TVAS, NBCSN
Boston @ Anaheim, 10:30 p.m., SN, SN1, PRIME, NESN
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PLAYOFF PUSH TAKES CENTER STAGE ON NATIONAL BROADCASTS
All three games on the schedule tonight feature teams in the hunt for playoff spots and will be broadcast nationally in either the U.S. or Canada:
* In the U.S., NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivalry features the League-leading Washington Capitals (39-12-7, 85 points) and the Flyers (28-24-7, 63 points), who sit three points behind of the Panthers (28-20-10, 66 points) for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Washington is coming off back-to-back losses on the weekend. Philadelphia will play its final game before skating in the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
* In Canada, Sportsnet opens a doubleheader when the Edmonton Oilers (32-19-8, 72 points) visit the surging Panthers (28-20-10, 66 points), who return to Florida after sweeping a five-game road trip for the first time in their history. The night closes with the Bruins (30-23-6, 66 points) seeking a fifth consecutive victory under coach Bruce Cassidy when they take on the Ducks (31-20-10, 72 points) in Anaheim. Edmonton and Anaheim are tied -- in terms of points -- for second place in the Central Division, while Florida and Boston are part of a three-way tie -- in terms of points -- for the second wild card from the East.