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Facts and Figures: Blues resume improbable quest for Central title

Could be second team to go from last in NHL after 20 games to winning division

by NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The St. Louis Blues will be one step closer to achieving a rare feat if they defeat the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS).

The Blues (43-28-8) are the seventh team in the expansion era to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs after sitting last in the NHL at any point after New Year's Day (minimum 20 games). A win against the Blackhawks would tie St. Louis in points for first place in the Central Division with the Winnipeg Jets (46-30-4) Nashville Predators (45-29-6).

One team in NHL history has won its division after it was last after its 20th game. The 2007-08 Washington Capitals were last after 30 games before winning the Southeast Division by two points over the Carolina Hurricanes.

 

Stars return to playoffs

The Dallas Stars clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth for the first time since 2015-16 with a 6-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at American Airlines Center on Tuesday. The Stars (42-31-7) hold the first wild card from the Western Conference and are three points behind the Blues in the Central Division with two games remaining.

Alexander Radulov had four points (two goals, two assists) against the Flyers and set a NHL career high with 29 goals. Dallas is led offensively by Radulov, Tyler Seguin (77 points; 31 goals, 46 assists) and Jamie Benn (52 points, 27 goals, 25 assists). They've scored 42.4 percent of the Stars' goals this season. Only the Edmonton Oilers (51.7 percent) and Blackhawks (45.3 percent) have had their three top-scoring players make up a higher percentage of total team goals.

 

Bruins lock up home ice for first round

Brad Marchand had two points (one goal, one assist) to reach 100 points for the first time in his NHL career to help the Boston Bruins defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-2 at Nationwide Arena and earn home-ice advantage for the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Marchand (36 goals, 64 assists) is the fifth player with 100 points this season, joining Nikita Kucherov (125), Connor McDavid (115), Patrick Kane (105) and Leon Draisaitl (102). It's the first timesince 2006-07 that at least five players earned 100 points in one season. He's also the 13th player to reach 100 points in his 10th NHL season and second in as many years (Claude Giroux, 11th season). Hockey Hall of Famer Gordie Howe did not reach the milestone until his 23rd NHL season in 1968-69 (103 points; 44 goals, 59 assists).

Video: Brad Marchand hits the 100-point mark for Bruins

 

Eastern wild-card race gets tighter

The Blue Jackets' (45-31-4) loss to the Bruins opened the door for the Carolina Hurricanes (44-29-7) and Montreal Canadiens (43-29-8) to gain ground in the Eastern Conference wild-card race. 

Three players scored to help the Hurricanes defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 at Scotiabank Arena and take over the first wild card and the Canadiens tied the Blue Jackets in points for the second wild card with a 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Bell Centre. Columbus remains in playoff position because of a 44-41 advantage in regulation/overtime wins (ROW). All three teams in the race have two games remaining.

 

MacKinnon's 40th goal sparks Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon scored his 40th goal for the Colorado Avalanche in a 6-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center. The victory put the Avalanche (37-29-14) four points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes (38-34-8), who lost 3-1 to the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena, for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

MacKinnon reached the 40-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career and is the third Avalanche player with a 40-goal season since the franchise relocated to Denver in 1995. Joe Sakic did it three times (1995-96, 1998-99 and 2000-01) and Milan Hejduk twice (2000-01 and 2002-03).

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