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Facts and Figures: Avalanche, Blue Jackets start final playoff push

Two division titles, six postseason berths to be decided during last week of regular season

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Two division titles, six postseason berths and seven of eight first-round Stanley Cup Playoff matchups still need to be decided entering the final week of the regular season.

The Colorado Avalanche (36-29-13) own the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference entering their game against the St. Louis Blues (42-28-8) at Enterprise Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV). Though the Avalanche are four points behind the Dallas Stars (41-31-7) for the first wild card, their hold on a postseason position is tenuous with the Arizona Coyotes (38-33-8) one point behind them. They're also 0-1-2 against the Blues, with St. Louis looking to sweep a season series from the Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques for the first time since 1991-92 (2-0-0).

Expect the Avalanche to ride goalie Philipp Grubauer during their final playoff push. He went 7-2-1 with a 1.48 goals-against average and two shutouts in 11 games during March, with his .955 save percentage the second-highest by an Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques goalie in a calendar month (minimum five games) behind Peter Budaj who had a .957 GAA in seven games during December 2009.

Colorado's remaining four games are against conference opponents, starting with the Blues on Monday, followed by the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

 

Blue streak

Sergei Bobrovsky made 38 saves to help the Columbus Blue Jackets (45-30-4) extend their winning streak to five games with a 4-0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Sunday. Columbus passed the Carolina Hurricanes (43-29-7) by one point for the first wild card from the Eastern Conference with each team having three games remaining.

Bobrovsky went 9-4-0 with a 1.74 GAA, .940 save percentage and four shutouts in 13 games during March, including 5-0-0 with an 0.80 GAA, .971 save percentage and three shutouts in his past five games.

The Blue Jackets trail the Pittsburgh Penguins (43-25-11) by three points for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Video: CBJ@BUF: Bobrovsky sprawls, uses mask to deny Eichel

 

Sharks-Golden Knights set for first round

The San Jose Sharks (44-26-9) will play the Vegas Golden Knights (42-30-7) in the Western Conference First Round, a matchup secured after San Jose's 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames at SAP Center on Sunday. It will be a rematch of a 2018 second-round series won by the Golden Knights in six games en route to the Stanley Cup Final.

Vegas will become the first team to face the same opponent in each of its first two playoff trips since the Minnesota Wild played the Anaheim Ducks in the 2003 Western Conference Final and 2007 Western Conference Quarterfinal.

The Flames (49-23-7) clinched first place in the West with their win against the Sharks. They are the 10th team, and second in as many seasons (Tampa Bay Lightning), to win its conference after not qualifying for the playoffs the previous season since 1974-75, when teams realigned into conferences.

Tweet from @PR_NHL: The @NHLFlames can become the 10th team to conclude a season atop their conference after not qualifying for the #StanleyCup Playoffs during the previous campaign (since 1974-75). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/sN4IHcDpHg

 

Lightning shoot for 60

Tampa Bay (59-15-4) will try to become the third team in NHL history to win 60 games when they play the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS, SUN, NHL.TV). They would join the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (62 wins) and 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens (60).

If the Lightning win their remaining four games, it would be the second time in four seasons a major North American professional sports team set a single-season wins record in their respective league. The Golden State Warriors went 73-9 in 2015-16 to break the NBA record previously owned by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10).

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