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Facts and Figures: Wild-card races going down to wire

Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, Canadiens battle for two spots in East; Coyotes try to catch Avalanche in West

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The Columbus Blue Jackets (45-30-4), Carolina Hurricanes (43-29-7) and Montreal Canadiens (42-29-8), who are separated by two points in the Eastern Conference wild-card race, all are in action Tuesday. 

Columbus, which holds the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the East, will try to extend its winning streak to six games when it hosts the Boston Bruins at Nationwide Arena (NBCSN, TVAS, NESN, NHL.TV). Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is 5-0-0 with an 0.80 goals-against average,.971 save percentage and three shutouts in his past five games.

Carolina, the second wild card, visits the Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, FS-CR, NHL.TV). The Canadiens host the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, SUN, NHL.TV), who have won five in a row and are 8-0-2 in their past 10 games against Montreal.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (43-25-11), who lead the Blue Jackets by three points for third place in the Metropolitan Division, visit the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-D+, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV).

 

Coyotes can pull even in West wild-card race

The Arizona Coyotes (38-33-8) will try to extend their point streak to four games and pull even in points with the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card from the Western Conference when they play the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; FS-A PLUS, PRIME, NHL.TV). The Coyotes are trying to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2012, when they went to the Western Conference Final.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was 7-5-3 with a 1.73 GAA, .943 save percentage and three shutouts in 15 games during March. His GAA and save percentage were the best in a calendar month by a Coyotes goaltender (minimum 10 GP games played) since February 2012, when Mike Smith was 11-1-0 with a 1.54 GAA, .947 save percentage and two shutouts in 12 games.

Colorado (36-29-14), which lost 3-2 in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues on Monday, plays the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center (9 p.m. ET; ALT, SNW, NHL.TV).

 

Tavares helps Maple Leafs clinch third straight berth

The Maple Leafs earned their third consecutive trip to the playoffs by defeating the New York Islanders 2-1 at Nassau Coliseum. Center John Tavares, who spent his first nine NHL seasons with the Islanders before signing with Toronto as a free agent July 1, 2018, scored the game-winning goal at 3:50 of the third period. The Maple Leafs (46-26-7) are third in the Atlantic Division, four points behind the second-place Bruins (47-23-9), their opponent in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Toronto's three straight trips to the playoffs are its longest run since qualifying for six straight seasons from 1998-99 through 2003-04. The Maple Leafs haven't won a round since a seven-game victory against the Ottawa Senators in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and will play the Bruins for the second time in as many years. It's the fourth time they've played in back-to-back years but the first since they faced each other in the Stanley Cup Semifinals in 1948 and 1949. Toronto leads 8-7 in their 15-playoff series, but Boston has won each of the past five since 1969, including seven-game victories in 2013 and 2018. 

Video: Hayes, Avalanche, Tavares highlight Monday night

 

Lightning join 60-win club

The Lightning (60-15-4) became the third team in NHL history to win 60 games in one season when they defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2 at Canadian Tire Centre. They joined the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (62) and 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens (60).

If the Lightning win each of their remaining three games, it would mark the second time in three years that 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 set an NBA record for wins in a season, eclipsing the previous mark of 72 by the Chicago Bulls in 1995-96 (72-10).

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov had three assists, giving him an NHL-leading 125 points (39 goals, 86 assists) in 79 games. That's the most points by a player in a season since Joe Thornton had 125 (29 goals, 96 assists) with the Bruins and San Jose Sharks in 2005-06. Kucherov can become the second player in Lightning history to win the Art Ross Trophy. He would join Martin St. Louis, who won the scoring title in 2003-04 (94 points; 38 goals, 56 assists in 82 games) and 2012-13 (60 points; 17 goals, 43 assists in 48 games).

 

Binnington, Blues climb in Central Division race

Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington made 24 saves through 65 minutes and didn't allow any on three shootout attempts for the Blues against the Avalanche. The Blues (43-28-8) pulled even in points with the Nashville Predators (44-29-6) for second place in the Central Division. Each is two points behind the division-leading Winnipeg Jets (46-29-4), who defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime. 

Binnington is 22-5-1 in 30 games, matching the Blues record for most wins in a season by a rookie set by Jake Allen (22-7-4) in 2014-15. His 1.85 GAA is the lowest in a season by an NHL rookie (minimum 20 games played) since Toronto's Al Rollins (1.77) in 1950-51.

 

Flames hit 50-win mark for second time

The Calgary Flames (50-23-7) became the second team to reach 50 wins when they defeated the Kings 7-2 at Staples Center. It's the second time in Calgary/Atlanta Flames history they've won at least 50 games in a season. The other was 1988-89, when Calgary had 54 victories (54-17-9) and won the Stanley Cup.

It's the eighth time this season the Flames have scored at least seven goals in a game, the first time that's happened since 1992-93, when they also did it eight times. Calgary has scored 287 goals, the most it's had in one season since scoring 302 in 1993-94. The Flames' plus-66 goal differential would be their best since 1990-91 (plus-81).

Calgary leads the NHL with 118 goals scored in the third period. That's the most by a team since 1992-93, when the Quebec Nordiques (124), Vancouver Canucks (119) and Philadelphia Flyers (118) each matched or exceeded that total.

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Flames clinch Western Conference

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