Morning skate april 13

* The final weekend of the 2023-24 regular season is stocked with storylines. If it weren’t enough that two playoff spots are available, all 16 playoff seeds are to-be-determined and none of the eight matchups for the First Round are locked in, we also are one day away from the first-ever NHL showdown between Batman and Superman.

* The Golden Knights erupted for seven goals en route to clinching the Western Conference’s final playoff berth as they continue their pursuit of back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.

* Filip Forsberg found the back of the net three times to establish a franchise record for most goals in a season. 


The ABC/ESPN+ tripleheader is overflowing with storylines as the Presidents’ Trophy race is wrapped up in all three games, with the Stars’ push for a division and conference title jammed between two potential First Round matchups as the Rangers and Bruins face off against clubs battling for the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

* A win by the Rangers (53-23-4, 110 points) Saturday afternoon would allow them to set a new single-season franchise record in that category and guarantee that they will steer clear of all but three clubs in the Presidents’ Trophy race – two involved in the remaining contests of the tripleheader (Dallas and Boston) and the only team pursuing them for the Metropolitan Division title (Carolina). The Islanders (37-27-15, 89 points), meanwhile, will look to push their winning streak to seven games.

* Eleven months ago, the Stars ended the Kraken’s first-ever playoff run thanks to a highlight-reel winning goal in Game 7 by Wyatt Johnston, one day after his 20th birthday (making him the youngest player in League history to net a GWG in a Game 7). Johnston is now a 30-goal scorer – the second-youngest to ever hit the mark for the club behind Brian Bellows (2x) – and the Stars are once again at the top of the Western Conference standings.

* With David Pastrnak a hat trick away from another 50-goal season, the Bruins could enter their showdown against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins (37-30-12, 86 points) with a chance to lock up the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Division (pending the result of the earlier Panthers game). Crosby ranks among the top six scorers in the NHL since the trade deadline (March 8), including a League-leading 20 points over the past three weeks (Rangers forward Artemi Panarin also has 20 points and would line up against Crosby and the Penguins in the First Round if the Stanley Cup Playoffs started today).


Will history repeat itself on the final Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of the 2023-24 regular season? Two years ago, on April 26, 2022, Auston Matthews reached the 60-goal mark with a two-goal performance on home ice against the Red Wings – during the final Saturday Hockey Night in Canada of 2021-22. He’ll try to up the ante this year by doing the same but with a different milestone in mind: 70 goals. On the nightcap, Edmonton will continue its pursuit of the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Division – something they last held at this stage of a season (min. 75 GP) in 2016-17– when they go head-to-head with its long-time holder Vancouver.

* Matthews’ push for the first 70-goal season by an NHL player in more than 30 years has been spurred of late by an active seven-game goal streak, which matches a career high achieved twice before. Coming of his 18th multi-goal game of the season Thursday, Matthews will take aim at posting multiple goals in consecutive Maple Leafs games for the 10th time in his career and fifth time in 2023-24. 

* The Pacific Division has been topped by the Canucks for 114 consecutive days dating to Dec. 21, 2023, but that run is in jeopardy thanks to an Oilers team that boasts a 17-6-5 record since Feb. 16 – when Vancouver held its largest lead over Edmonton while ranking first in the division (17 points) – including a 6-1-2 record in its past nine games.


The five teams involved in the Eastern Conference playoff race – the Islanders (37-27-15, 89 points), Penguins (37-30-12, 86 points), Capitals (37-31-11, 85 points), Red Wings (38-32-9, 85 points) and Flyers (37-32-11, 85 points) – will all return to the ice for the second time in three days as any clarity in postseason picture remains unclear.

* The Islanders have opened up a three-point cushion as the third seed in the Metropolitan Division thanks to an active six-game winning streak (6-0-0 since April 1) and have done so with 10 different goal scorers (most: Bo Horvat & Kyle Palmieri w/ 4).

* Pittsburgh (7-0-3 since March 24) eyes an 11-game point streak for the 10th time in franchise history and first since 2012-13 (15-0-0). The Penguins have occupied Wild Card 2 for consecutive days and the third time this month (also April 6) after failing to do so for a span of 143 days (Nov. 14, 2023, WC2). 


Nikita Kucherov (43-98—141 in 78 GP) has recorded multiple assists in each of his past five games and enters Saturday’s contest against the Capitals just two back of 100 on the season. The 2023-24 Art Ross Trophy frontrunner, who isn’t alone in his pursuit of 100 assists (also Connor McDavid: 31-99—130 in 74 GP), can become the fourth player in NHL history to reach the mark in a single campaign – he would join Wayne Gretzky (11x, last: 122 in 1990-91), Mario Lemieux (114 in 1988-89) and Bobby Orr (102 in 1970-71).

* Kucherov can also become the ninth different player in NHL history to record a multi-assist streak of six or more games, a feat achieved by Gretzky (8 GP in 1984-85, 6 GP in 1985-86 & 6 GP in 1981-82), McDavid (6 GP in 2023-24), Steven Stamkos (6 GP in 2021-22), Henrik Sedin (6 GP in 2009-10), Joe Thornton (6 GP in 2005-06), Jaromir Jagr (6 GP in 1995-96), Denis Savard (6 GP in 1987-88) and Jean Ratelle (6 GP in 1971-72).


The Jets (49-24-6, 104 points) captured their fifth straight win Thursday to prevent the Stars from securing the Central Division crown, but now shift their focus toward the Avalanche (49-24-6, 104 points) – a club also battling it out for home-ice advantage of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs and set to take part in the MultiVersus NHL Face-Off on Sunday against the Golden Knights. 

* Winnipeg and Colorado, which could meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time and register the 295th unique postseason series in NHL history, have combined for 120 goals (7.06 G/GP) in their head-to-head matchups since 2018-19 (excluding shootout-deciding goals); Montreal and Florida (150) have combined for the most among a pair of teams in that span.

* Nathan MacKinnon (51-86—137 in 79 GP) has notched three point streaks of 10-plus games in 2023-24 and registered his first one thanks to a 1-1—2 outing in his first game against the Jets on Dec. 7. He enters the weekend four assists shy of 90 in 2023-24 and three points shy of establishing a single-season franchise record


The Golden Knights scored an even-strength, power-play and shorthanded goal in the opening 10 minutes – which included Jack Eichel’s 30th tally of the season – and seven overall en route to clinching the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. Click here for more notes about Vegas, which clinched its sixth postseason appearance in seven years.

* The Golden Knights can tie the Rangers (7) for the fourth-fewest seasons to two Stanley Cup wins in NHL history. The only other franchises to require fewer campaigns to win multiple championships are the original Ottawa Senators (4), Maple Leafs (5) and Oilers (6).


The Hurricanes (51-22-7, 109 points) and Predators (46-29-5, 97 points) also posted victories Friday, while the Oilers (48-24-6, 102 points) clinched home-ice advantage for their First Round series by earning one point:

* Jake Guentzel got two empty-net goals and Frederik Andersen made a highlight-reel save on Blues forward Zach Dean as Carolina clipped St. Louis to climb within one point of the League-leading Rangers (53-23-4, 110 points). The Hurricanes face the Blackhawks (April 14) and Blue Jackets (April 16) in their final two games of the season as they pursue the first Presidents’ Trophy win in franchise history.

* Filip Forsberg (46-46—92 in 80 GP) forged the 10th hat trick of his NHL career to reach 46 goals on the season and establish a franchise record for most in a campaign, eclipsing Matt Duchene (43 in 2021-22). More notes on Forsberg’s three-goal performance can be found in Friday’s edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates.


* NHL EDGE stats: Semyon Varlamov fueling Islanders' playoff push under Patrick Roy
* Erik Karlsson excited for 'meaningful' 1,000th NHL game with Penguins
* Macklin Celebrini wins Hobey Baker Award as top NCAA men's hockey player
* Family of NHL ref making debut dresses part in stands
* Jakob Silfverberg skates final home game of NHL career


* The Chirp (4/8): Dr. Alicia Naser, Ph.D. joins
* NHL Fantasy on Ice (4/10): NHL | Action Network collaboration: Stretch run
* NHL @TheRink (4/10): Daryl "Razor" Reaugh joins; Alex Ovechkin's consistency
* La Tasse de Café LNH (4/10): Juraj Slafkovsky, la révélation de l'année chez les Canadiens
* NHL Fantasy on Ice (4/11): Early keeper / dynasty league preview for 2024-25