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Playoff Buzz: Maple Leafs, Bruins can clinch berths

Toronto victory, Boston win would put both teams in; Capitals can take Presidents' Trophy

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the sprint to the finish line of the 2016-17 regular season and the mad scramble for the three remaining spots -- all in the Eastern Conference -- in the postseason. There are six days remaining in the season. If the playoffs were to start today, this is what the bracket would look like. Here is all the playoff news for Tuesday:

 
Clinching scenarios

The Washington Capitals will clinch the Metropolitan Division title, Eastern Conference and Presidents' Trophy:

* If they defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, CSN-DC, NHL.TV) in regulation or overtime AND the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; ROOT, FS-O, NHL.TV) in any fashion

OR

* If they defeat the Maple Leafs via shootout AND the Blue Jackets defeat the Penguins via shootout

The Toronto Maple Leafs will clinch a playoff berth:

* If they defeat the Capitals in regulation or overtime AND the Tampa Bay Lightning lose to the Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, NBCSN, NESN, NHL.TV) in any fashion

OR

* If they defeat the Capitals via shootout AND the Lightning lose to the Bruins in regulation

The Boston Bruins will clinch a playoff berth:

* If they defeat the Lightning in regulation.

 

6:28 p.m.

Let's drop the puck!

There's two more playoff berths and a Presidents' Trophy that could get clinched tonight.

Let's take a quick look and get you ready for all the action.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, NBCSN, NESN, NHL.TV) -- Pretty simple for the Bruins. Win tonight and they're in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They also help the Toronto Maple Leafs (more on that further down).

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; ROOT, FS-O, NHL.TV) -- To the winner goes second place in the Metropolitan Division. At least for one night. Look for Sergei Bobrovsky in goal for the Blue Jackets, Matt Murray for the Penguins.

Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, CSN-DC, NHL.TV) -- The Maple Leafs can clinch a playoff berth with a regulation or overtime win and a Bruins win against the Lightning. Or they can get in with a shootout win if the Bruins win in regulation. If the Washington Capitals win in regulation or overtime and the Blue Jackets defeat the Penguins, they would win the Presidents' Trophy for the second straight season. They also would clinch it with a shootout win plus a Blue Jackets shootout win.

Detroit Red Wings at Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS, FS-D, NHL.TV) -- The Senators could have some extra jump in the second game of a back-to-back because of the return of forward Clarke MacArthur, who will play for the first time since Oct. 14, 2015 because of concussion issues. A win also could move them into second place in the Atlantic Division. Big night all around.

Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW+, TSN3, NHL.TV) -- The Blues can clinch third place in the Central Division with a win and a regulation loss by the Nashville Predators. They'll also keep alive their hopes of getting to second in the division.

New York Islanders at Nashville Predators (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV) -- Islanders coach Doug Weight summed up the Islanders' playoff hopes: "It's 'Saturday Night Fever' -- staying alive." They need a win and some help otherwise all their playoff talk will just be "Jive Talkin'." The Predators need a win to hang on to a chance to climb to third in the division. They also can jump from the second wild card in the West to the first with a win and a loss by the Calgary Flames.

Carolina Hurricanes at Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-CR, NHL.TV) -- Bryan Bickell's first NHL game since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis Nov. 11 could provide a boost for the Hurricanes, who need a win and some help from the Senators to stay alive for a playoff spot. The Wild can clinch second place in the Central Division with a win.

Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. ET; ALT, WGN, NHL.TV) -- The Presidents' Trophy remains a possibility for the Blackhawks if they win and the Capitals lose in regulation tonight. They've already clinched the top seed in the Western Conference. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson own't play for the Blackhawks; he's with his wife helping prepare for the couple's second child.

Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET; SN1, PRIME, NHL.TV) -- A Ducks win keeps them on top in the Pacific Division. A Flames victory keeps them in the first wild-card spot. It also would be their first regular-season win at Honda Center in 13 years.

Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNW, NHL.TV) -- An Oilers win and a Ducks loss would mean there's a new leader in the Pacific Division. Nothing like starting a road trip in first place.

Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCS CA+, SNP, NHL.TV) -- No Joe Thornton and no Logan Couture for the Sharks tonight, but a win would get them within two points of first place in the Pacific if the Ducks and Oilers lose.

 
5:35 p.m.

In and out

The Ottawa Senators will get a boost with the return of forward Clarke MacArthur, who will play for the first time since Oct. 14, 2015 because of a concussion.

"I think this is going to give a big boost to our players," general manager Pierre Dorion said of MacArthur's return. Having it come in the second game of a back-to-back with the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS, FS-D, NHL.TV) should provide extra energy.

The last time MacArthur played a fully healthy season was 2013-14, when he had 55 points (24 goals, 31 assists) in 79 games with the Senators. Coach Guy Boucher said MacArthur would be eased into the lineup Tuesday but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get some power-play time.

The San Jose Sharks will be without center Joe Thornton against the Vancouver Canucks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCS CA+, SNP, NHL.TV) because of an apparent left knee injury sustained against the Canucks on Sunday.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Thornton had an MRI exam on Monday but did not reveal the results and Thornton did not talk to the media. DeBoer said he is day to day.

Thornton's streak of 201 consecutive regular-season games will end.

"You just take for granted that he's always there," DeBoer said. "But I think we're built for this type of adversity. We have depth. We have guys that can play [multiple] positions. It's an exciting challenge."

 
3:45 p.m.

No Stamkos for Lightning

Lightning center Steven Stamkos is considered day to day, but his return won't be today.

Tampa Bay needs a win against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NESN, NHL.TV) to keep its slender playoff hopes alive. However, the Lightning will be without their top player.

Stamkos was on the ice during the morning skate, but he didn't take line rushes and won't play.

"When I'm ready and I feel I can help my team, I'll be back," Stamkos said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Coach Jon Cooper also said defenseman Jason Garrison and forward J.T. Brown won't play.

The Lightning are four points out of a playoff spot despite a number of key players missing big chunks because of injuries. In addition to Stamkos, who hasn't played since Nov. 15, forward Nikita Kucherov has missed eight games, forward Jonathan Drouin has missed nine games and center Tyler Johnson has missed 13 games. Forward Alex Killorn has been the closest thing the Lightning have to an iron man, playing 77 of 78 games. The Lightning could take the ice with eight players in the lineup who have spent time in the American Hockey League this season.

Cooper knows there's no sympathy for his team.

"Moral victories don't mean anything if we don't get in the playoffs," he said. "If you were to stop the season now and look at what's gone on you, would marvel at what some of the young guys have meant to this team. But in saying that: Everybody gets hurt, all teams get hurt, they go through this at different times of the year. It's been a little bit of a prolonged time, but we're going through it at the dig-your-heels-in time of the year and that's probably why it's getting a little bit more press."

Correspondent Matt Kalman has all the details on the Lightning and Bruins tonight here.

 

1:15 p.m. ET

The Senators' warrior captain

The Senators didn't expect their captain, Erik Karlsson, to play Monday against the Detroit Red Wings. He injured his foot blocking a shot during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 28 and was thought to need a couple more days to get better.

There are 13 games on the docket tonight, and 11 of them have direct impact on the Stanley Cup Playoff race.

No time to waste, so let's take a look at them: But as columnist Nick Cotsonika wrote Karlsson skated in Ottawa on Monday morning, felt good, called Dorion, flew to Detroit and then played more than 30 minutes.

The fact that the Senators lost in 5-4 a shootout didn't mean as much as it did for them to have Karlsson back in the lineup.

"That's the story of our team right there," coach Guy Boucher said. "We never expected Erik to be there. After the morning skate, after we do the media, going back to the hotel, get a phone call, and he's coming. 'What?' So Erik's coming; he's a warrior."

Video: OTT@DET: Karlsson nets PPG from below the goal line

 
11:18 a.m.

Busy night with much at stake

Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, NBCSN, NESN, NHL.TV) -- The Bruins can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a regulation win, and if the puck bounces right they could end the night as high as second in the Atlantic Division. With 92 points they're one behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for second. The Lightning are four points behind the Bruins with one game in hand.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; ROOT, FS-O, NHL.TV) -- The Penguins have a one-point lead on the Blue Jackets for second in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in an Eastern Conference First Round series, and each team has four games left. If it goes to a tiebreaker, the Blue Jackets have the advantage in regulation/overtime wins (ROW), 47-44.

Video: BUF@CBJ: Atkinson finishes Jones' dish top shelf

Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, CSN-DC, NHL.TV) -- The Maple Leafs can clinch their spot in the playoffs with a win in regulation or overtime and a Lightning loss to the Bruins in any fashion. They also can get in with a shootout win and a Lightning regulation loss. A victory also would keep the Maple Leafs at the front of the three-team pack fighting for second place in the Atlantic. They have 93 points, one more than the Ottawa Senators and Bruins. They have one game in hand on the Bruins and have the ROW tiebreaker against the Senators (38-36). The Capitals can win the Presidents' Trophy for the second straight season with a win in regulation or overtime if the Blue Jackets defeat the Penguins in any fashion. They also would clinch if they win in a shootout and the Blue Jackets defeat the Penguins in a shootout.

Detroit Red Wings at Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS, FS-D, NHL.TV) -- The Senators need a better outcome then they got in the first half of the home-and-home between the teams Monday. Despite losing five straight (0-3-2), including a 5-4 shootout loss at Detroit, they can move back into second in the Atlantic with a win and a regulation loss by the Maple Leafs.

Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW+, TSN3, NHL.TV) -- The Blues will stay in third place in the Central Division regardless of what happens tonight because they have a two-point lead on the Nashville Predators and one game in hand. But a Blues win also would keep alive their chances of catching the Minnesota Wild for second in the division; they're seven points back with four games remaining.

New York Islanders at Nashville Predators (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV) -- The Predators can jump ahead of the Calgary Flames for the first wild card in the Western Conference with a win and a Flames loss. The Islanders need a win to guarantee their playoff hopes remain alive. If they lose and the Bruins and Senators each get at least one point tonight, they would be eliminated from contention.

Video: SJS@NSH: Subban cranks a scorching slapper past Jones

Carolina Hurricanes at Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-CR, NHL.TV) -- The Hurricanes need a win and a Senators loss to stay mathematically alive for a playoff spot. They have 84 points, eight behind the Bruins and Senators, but would lose the ROW tiebreaker to the Bruins. However, if the Hurricanes win their final four games in regulation or overtime and the Senators stay at 92 points, the Hurricanes would edge them by one in ROW. If the Wild win they would clinch second in the Central Division.

Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. ET; ALT, WGN, NHL.TV) -- The Blackhawks need a win to hold onto a chance at the Presidents' Trophy. They're five points behind the Capitals with three games remaining, but the Capitals have one game in hand.

Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET; SN1, PRIME, NHL.TV) -- The Ducks need at least one point to stay on top of the Pacific Division. They're two points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers, but the Oilers have one game in hand. The Flames need at least one point to stay ahead of the Predators for the first wild card in the West. They hold the ROW tiebreaker against the Predators, 40-38. With the teams potentially playing in the Western Conference First Round, the Flames need a win to prove they can defeat the Ducks at Honda Center. They've lost 24 straight regular-season games there (0-19-5) since April 4, 2004.

Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNW, NHL.TV) -- The Oilers can jump into first in the Pacific with a win and a regulation loss by the Ducks. Regardless of what happens the Oilers will be no worse than second in the Pacific at the end of the night; they're two points ahead of the third-place San Jose Sharks but have one game in hand.

Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCS CA+, SNP, NHL.TV) -- The Sharks can't move up or down from third place in the Pacific regardless of what happens tonight, but a second straight win for the first time since March 12-14 would give them something to feel good about.

 

8:20 a.m.

Canadiens clinch Atlantic

The Montreal Canadiens wrapped up first place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Monday.

That much we know. What's unclear, with less than a week left in the regular season, is how the rest of the division with shake out and what teams even will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: MTL@FLA: Lehkonen roofs a blistering snap shot

The Toronto Maple Leafs moved into second place with a win, and the Ottawa Senators jumped into third with a shootout loss.

The Boston Bruins, who didn't play Monday, fell to fourth place and hold the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They have a four-point lead on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who they host Tuesday. The Lightning have one game in hand.

Here's a look at the playoff implications from the three games played Monday:  

Montreal Canadiens 4, Florida Panthers 1: Artturi Lehkonen scored twice for the Canadiens, who locked up home-ice advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. In clinching first place, they will play the first wild card in the Eastern Conference First Round. That team likely will be the New York Rangers, who defeated the Canadiens in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final.

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Buffalo Sabres 2: The Maple Leafs not only moved closer to clinching a berth, but if the season ended today they would have home-ice advantage in their first-round matchup. Auston Matthews scored his 39th goal to push the Maple Leafs one point ahead of the Senators and Bruins in the race for second place in the Atlantic.

Detroit Red Wings 5, Ottawa Senators 4 (SO): The Senators lost their fifth straight game (0-3-2), but the one point earned was enough to move them past the Bruins for third in the Atlantic. They host Detroit on Tuesday.

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