Skip to main content
The Buzz

Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz: Golden Knights, Sharks battle in Pacific

Maple Leafs, Islanders, Stars can clinch berths; Jets, Predators vie for first in Central

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2019 NHL postseason. There are eight days left in the regular season and the races in each conference are wide open.

Here is a look at the NHL standings and everything else that could impact the playoff picture.

 

Stanley Cup Playoff clinching scenarios

The Toronto Maple Leafs will clinch a playoff berth if they get at least one point against the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, SNO, TVAS2, NHL.TV) OR if the Montreal Canadiens lose in any fashion to the Winnipeg Jets (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN360, CITY, SNE, SNW, SNP, NHL.TV).

The New York Islanders will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m. ET; MSG+2, MSG-B, NHL.TV) in any fashion 

OR

If the Islanders get one point against the Sabres AND the Canadiens lose in any fashion

OR

If the Canadiens lose in regulation

The Dallas Stars will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN360, SNP, FS-SW, NHL.TV) in any fashion.

The Calgary Flames, who do not play Saturday, will clinch the Pacific Division if the San Jose Sharks lose in regulation to the Vegas Golden Knights (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSCA+, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV).

The Flames will clinch the Western Conference if the Sharks lose in regulation AND the Jets lose in any fashion to the Canadiens.

 

On Tap

There are 12 games on the Saturday schedule, all with playoff implications.

Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, NESN, FS-F, NHL.TV): The Bruins are second in the Atlantic Division, six points ahead of the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston has won five of its past six games. The Panthers are eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoffs contention.

Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes (1:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-CR, NBCSP, NHL.TV): The Hurricanes hold the first wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference and are four points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand. Carolina has lost two straight games and is a point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who hold the second wild card. The Flyers would be eliminated from playoff contention with a regulation loss and could be eliminated even with a victory depending on several scenarios. 

Montreal Canadiens at Winnipeg Jets (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN360, CITY, SNE, SNW, SNP, NHL.TV): The Canadiens are tied in points with the Blue Jackets, who hold the second wild card from the East, but the Blue Jackets have a game in hand. The Jets have clinched a playoff berth and are first in the Central, but the division title is still unclaimed. The Jets have a game in hand on the second-place Nashville Predators, who are tied with them in points. The Jets are four points ahead of the third-place St. Louis Blues.  

Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, SNO, TVAS2, NHL.TV): The Maple Leafs are third in the Atlantic, six points behind the second-place Bruins. They are 4-4-2 in their past 10 games and will clinch a playoff berth if they get at least one point against the Senators or if the Canadiens lose in any fashion to the Jets. The Senators are eliminated from playoff contention.

Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SUN, NBCSWA, NHL.TV): The Capitals have already clinched a playoff berth and are first in the Metropolitan Division, three points ahead of the New York Islanders and five points ahead of the Penguins, each with four games to play. The Lightning, who haven't played since Monday, need three wins in their final five games to equal the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings' single season record of 62. They would need to win their final five games to tie the NHL record of 132 points in a single season set by the 1976-77 Canadiens.

St. Louis Blues at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-MW, NHL.TV): The Blues, who clinched a playoff berth when Colorado Avalanche defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout on Friday, are third in the Central, four points behind the Jets and Predators. The Devils are eliminated from playoff contention.

Buffalo Sabres at New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET; MSG+2, MSG-B, NHL.TV): The Islanders can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Sabres. New York is second in the Metropolitan, three points behind the Capitals and two points ahead of the Penguins. The Sabres are eliminated from the playoffs. 

Columbus Blue Jackets at Nashville Predators (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-TN, FS-0, NHL.TV): The Blue Jackets have won three in a row and hold the second wild card from the East. They're tied in points with the Canadiens, who they defeated 6-2 on Thursday, and the Blue Jackets have a game in hand. The Predators have won two in a row and are second in the Central to the Winnipeg Jets; they're tied in points, but the Jets have a game in hand. Nashville is four points ahead of the third-place Blues.  

Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSCA+, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV): The Golden Knights clinched a playoff berth when the Avalanche defeated the Coyotes in a shootout on Friday. The Knights have lost three in a row and are third in the Pacific Division, five points behind the Sharks. San Jose is 0-6-1 in its past seven games and is eight points behind the Calgary Flames for first in the Pacific and Western Conference.

Dallas Stars at Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN360, SNP, FS-SW, NHL.TV): The Stars, who have won three straight games will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Canucks. Dallas holds the first wild card from the West and is two points behind the Blues for third in the Central and three points ahead of the Avalanche, who hold the second wild card. The Canucks were eliminated from playoff contention when Colorado defeated Arizona on Friday.

Anaheim Ducks at Edmonton Oilers (10 p.m. ET; SN1, CITY, SNE, SNO, SNW, PRIME, NHL.TV): The Oilers are 4-4-2 in their past 10 games and are eight points behind the Avalanche for the second wild card from the West. The Ducks are eliminated from playoff contention. 

Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, NBCSCH, NHL.TV): The Blackhawks are seven points behind Colorado for the second wild card from the West. The Kings are eliminated from playoff contention. 

 

Thought of the day

The San Jose Sharks are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, clinching a berth when the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on March 19. But how the Sharks are playing entering the playoffs is a major concern.

San Jose is second in the Pacific Division and Western Conference, eight points behind the Calgary Flames. But the Sharks have lost seven straight games (0-6-1), including a 5-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. 

It doesn't help that the Sharks have been without forward Joe Pavelski and defenseman Erik Karlsson. Pavelski has missed five straight games with a lower-body injury and Karlsson has missed 13 consecutive games with a groin injury. Pavelski, who has 63 points (37 goals, 26 assists) in 72 games, is close to returning. The status of Karlsson, who has 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) in 52 games, is unknown.

But the Sharks' problems go beyond injuries. In their seven straight losses they have been outscored 31-18 and were 12 of 19 on the penalty kill. Goaltending has been an issue throughout the season. Martin Jones is 34-18-5 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .896 save percentage and Aaron Dell is 9-7-4 with a 3.14 GAA and .887 save percentage. 

The Sharks will continue to be tested, starting against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSCA+, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV) in a likely Western Conference First Round preview. Vegas is five points behind San Jose in the Pacific. It's been a rough stretch, but the Sharks are trying to figure things out before the playoffs begin.

"There's no easy recipe for getting out of slumps like this," Sharks forward Logan Couture said after Thursday's loss. "In this League, every team goes through times like this. It's who gets out of it quickest and comes out of it the proper way, and that's what we're working to do."

NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers

 

If playoffs started Saturday

Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Saturday:

Eastern Conference

(1A) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (WC2) Columbus Blue Jackets 

(1M) Washington Capitals vs. (WC1) Carolina Hurricanes  

(2A) Boston Bruins vs. (3A) Toronto Maple Leafs

(2M) New York Islanders vs. (3M) Pittsburgh Penguins   

Western Conference

(1P) Calgary Flames vs. (WC2) Colorado Avalanche

(1C) Winnipeg Jets vs. (WC1) Dallas Stars 

(2P) San Jose Sharks vs. (3P) Vegas Golden Knights

(2C) Nashville Predators vs. (3C) St. Louis Blues   

 

About last night

Five of the six games on the schedule Friday had playoff implications: 

Nashville Predators 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 1: The Predators moved into a tie for first place in the Central Division with the win. The Predators and Winnipeg Jets each have 94 points, but the Predators have played one more game. The Penguins remained in third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind the New York Islanders and five behind the first-place Washington Capitals.

New York Rangers 4, St. Louis Blues 2: The Blues clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite allowing four unanswered goals to New York. The Blues are third in the Central, four points behind the Jets and Predators, and two points ahead of the Dallas Stars, who hold the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. 

Colorado Avalanche 3, Arizona Coyotes 2 (SO): The Avalanche moved three points ahead of the Coyotes in the race for the second wild card from the West and within three points of the Stars for first wild card. The Avalanche win allowed the Blues and Vegas Golden Knights to clinch playoff berths and eliminated the Vancouver Canucks from playoff contention. 

Calgary Flames 6, Anaheim Ducks 1: The Flames moved closer to locking up first place in the Western Conference and Pacific Division with the win. Calgary is eight points ahead of the San Jose Sharks in each race. Calgary has four games remaining while San Jose has five.  

Minnesota Wild 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2: The Golden Knights clinched their second playoff berth in as many seasons despite the loss. They remained five points behind the Sharks for second in the Pacific. The Wild remained four points behind the Avalanche for the second wild card from the West with four games to play.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.