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Playoff Buzz: Tuukka Rask hopes to return on Tuesday

Goalie for Bruins, who lead race for second wild card, missed game Saturday with upper-body injury; Ducks take over first in Pacific

by Shawn Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

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 remaining 11 postseason berths. There are 14 days remaining in the regular season. If the playoffs were to start today, this is what the bracket would look like.

Here is all the playoff news for Monday:


Clinching scenarios for Monday

The New York Rangers don't play Monday but will clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if the Carolina Hurricanes lose to the Red Detroit Wings in any fashion AND the Tampa Bay Lightning lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in any fashion AND the New York Islanders lose to the Nashville Predators in regulation.

6:24 p.m.

Enjoy the action

Let's get ready to roll. Games are about 30 minutes away!

It has already been an eventful Monday and the games have yet to start.

There are six games on the schedule. Five have direct impacts on the playoff picture and the other features forward Brian Gionta of the Buffalo Sabres being honored for appearing in his 1,000 NHL game.

Here's some quick notes on where to find each game and why you should watch:

Nashville Predators vs. New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET; SN, MSG+, FS-TN, NHL.TV) -Each team needs a victory to keep pace in very tight playoff races. Thomas Greiss is in goal for the Islanders.

Florida Panthers at Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-F, NHL.TV) -Gionta plays in his 1,000 NHL game. Jaromir Jagr of the Panthers, who passed 1,000 games many moons ago, is no longer questionable for Monday and will play in his 1,704th game.

Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning (NBCSN, TVA Sports, CSN-CH, NHL.TV) - Tampa Bay can't afford a loss at this point of the season if it wants to claw its way into the top eight in the East.

Detroit Red Wings at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-D+, NHL.TV) -This is a game in hand for the Hurricanes on the Boston Bruins for the second wild card in the East. Eddie Lack gets another start in goal for Carolina, which has taken 17 of a possible 20 points in past 10 games.

Arizona Coyotes at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-A, NHL.TV) -  The Blues' potential playoff opponent could change depending on the results Monday. The race for third in the Central is a pitch battle at the moment,

Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames (9 p.m. ET; ALT, SNW, NHL.TV) -A victory here for the Flames will tighten their grip on the first wild card in the West. Will also further jumble Pacific picture.

To find out more about these games or other news impacting the playoffs, including the status of Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, scroll down throughout the Playoff Buzz.
Enjoy the games and we'll you see Tuesday bright and early to start the Buzz all over again.

3:56 p.m.

Andersen won't start for Maple Leafs on Tuesday

Goaltender Frederik Andersen will not start against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, FS-F, NHL.TV) despite taking part in practice for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

Andersen was pulled following the first period of a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, according to correspondent Dave McCarthy. The Maple Leafs say Andersen has an upper-body injury.

Backup Curtis McElhinney will start against the Panthers. It is unclear if Andersen will be able to back up. Garret Sparks is with the Maple Leafs on an emergency recall from Toronto of the American Hockey League.

"It doesn't appear to be long [with Andersen]. Obviously that's great," coach Mike Babcock said.

Toronto is one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division.

3:20 p.m.

Rask Update

The Bruins are desperate for good news while they battle for playoff positioning at the bottom of the Eastern Conference bracket.

They got some Monday as Tuukka Rask seems to have rebounded from whatever kept him out of the 2-1 victory against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Rask practiced Monday and declared himself fit, writes correspondent Matt Kalman, who was on the scene.

"Good day back on the ice. Feel good," said Rask, who practiced and took extra work after practice.

If Rask feels the same Tuesday, he will start against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; SN1, SNO, TVA Sports, NESN, FS-TN, NHL.TV)  despite the fact that Anton Khudobin allowed one goal to the Islanders on Saturday and has won each of his past five games.

"[Rask] is our No. 1 goalie, so we're not skirting around that issue," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "He's our No. 1 and his health is very important. When he's physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we'll make a decision. The one practice, he feels good and that's a big positive for us."

Forward David Krejci left practice early Monday but Cassidy said he should be good for the game against Nashville.

3:00 p.m.
Picture Perfect

Life's good when you are in first place in the League.

The Washington Capitals gathered Monday at their practice facility for picture day and forwards Justin Williams and Andrei Burakovsky elicited more than a few laughs by sitting side-by-side with matching big-hair looks.

Tweet from @Capitals: Step Brothers! #RockTheRed

Staff writer Tom Gulitti was on hand for practice and got to the bottom of this hairy situation.


2:10 p.m.
Hurricane Warning

The Carolina Hurricanes have points in 10 straight games (7-0-3) and have barged onto the periphery of the group chasing the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

They are five points behind the Bruins, who currently hold the spot, and have two games in hand on them.

"We're getting some questions answered as we move along," coach Bill Peters said during the morning skate Monday. "We're down to nine games left. We begin a new five-game segment today with four of them at home, so we have to take advantage of that."

Forward Jeff Skinner has been driving the renaissance in Raleigh. He has seven goals in his past five games.

Here's Kurt Dusterberg's report from the morning skates before the game between Carolina and the Detroit Red Wings (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-D+, NHL.TV)


10:55 a.m.
Dillman: Getzlaf great again for Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks have climbed the Pacific Division standings, passing the struggling San Jose Sharks, for first place with a convincing 6-3 win against the New York Rangers on Sunday.

According to staff writer Lisa Dillman, it is an expected face that has driven the charge: center Ryan Getzlaf, who had four assists Sunday and has 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) in his past 12 games. He also reached 50 assists in a season for the seventh time in his career.

Getzlaf, who has 66 points (14 goals, 52 assists), is on pace for his best season since scoring 87 points in 2013-14. His career-best total was 91 points in 2008-09.


10:15 a.m.
Playoff implications abound on Monday schedule

The six-game schedule for Monday is heavy with games affecting the race for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, currently held by the idle Boston Bruins, who have 84 points in 75 games. But, five of the six games have an opportunity to impact the playoff race in some form. Here's a quick look at the import of each game, starting with the cluster of wild-card hopefuls:

Nashville Predators vs. New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET; SN, MSG+, FS-TN, NHL.TV) -- The Islanders are playing their game in hand and would tie the Bruins in points with a victory. The Bruins, however, would hold the first tie-breaker, regulation/overtime wins (ROW), 37-33 entering Monday. The Predators, who have won three straight, need points to hold onto third place in the Central Division. They are one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues, who play the Calgary Flames on Monday.

Detroit Red Wings at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-D+, NHL.TV) -- If the Hurricanes want to continue pursuit of the second wild card, they need points from this opening game of a four-game homestand. They are five points behind the Bruins, but have two games in hand.

Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, CSN-CH, NHL.TV) -- The Lightning, 6-3-1 in their past 10, are one point behind the Islanders and three points behind the Bruins. The Blackhawks have a seven point lead on the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division and Western Conference races, but are four points behind the Washington Capitals, who don't play Monday, in race for Presidents' Trophy.

Arizona Coyotes at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-A, NHL.TV) -- The Blues are playing for positioning in the Western Conference Playoffs. They currently sit in the second wild card, but with a victory could pass the Flames for the first wild card, or into third place in the Central Division with a win and a Predators loss against the Islanders.

Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames (9 p.m. ET; ALT, SNW, NHL.TV) -- The Pacific Division race is extremely tight, with five points separating the first-place Anaheim Ducks from the fourth-place Flames. The Flames could make it three points, and strengthen its grip on the first wild card, with a victory.


8:00 a.m.
Sunday action has major playoff implications

Three of the five games Sunday had direct impact on the Stanley Cup Playoff picture. None more so than the final game on the schedule, a 6-3 victory by the Anaheim Ducks against the New York Rangers that scrambled the picture in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. Here's a quick recap of what happened Sunday:

Anaheim 6, New York Rangers 3:The Ducks took sole possession of first place in the Pacific with a strong third period against a Rangers team playing its second West Coast game in as many nights. Ryan Getzlaf had four assists to help the the Ducks take a two-point lead on the San Jose Sharks and the Edmonton Oilers. Each of the three teams have played 75 games. The Ducks' win prevented the Rangers from clinching a playoff berth.

Video: Getzlaf's four assists power Ducks past Rangers, 6-3

Philadelphia 6, Pittsburgh 2:The Flyers kept their slim hopes for a wild-card spot into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference alive. They are six points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card. They have seven games remaining but have to leapfrog four teams. The Penguins missed an opportunity to gain ground on the Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. They are three points behind the first-place Capitals and tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have a game in hand.

Detroit 3, Minnesota 2: The Wild lost again, this time in overtime, to fall to 2-7-1 in their past 10 games. They are seven points behind the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks with seven games remaining.

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