Stanley Cup Playoff clinching scenarios
The Calgary Flames will clinch the Pacific Division and the Western Conference if they defeat the San Jose Sharks (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, NBCSCA, NHL.TV) in any fashion.
The Dallas Stars will clinch a playoff berth if the Arizona Coyotes lose in any fashion to the Minnesota Wild (5 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-A PLUS, FS-WI, FS-N, NHL.TV).
There are six games on the Sunday schedule, five with playoff implications.
Minnesota Wild at Phoenix Coyotes (5 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-A PLUS, FS-WI, FS-N+, NHL.TV): The Coyotes, who are 1-3-3 in their past seven games, are three points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Minnesota is four points behind the Avalanche and one point behind the Coyotes. The Wild are 2-3-1 in their past six games.
Carolina Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Penguins (5 p.m. ET; NHLN, ATTSN-PT, FS-CR, NHL.TV): The Hurricanes will play three of their final four regular-season games on the road, beginning against the Penguins. The Hurricanes hold the first wild card from the Eastern Conference and are two points behind the Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins are seven points behind the first-place Washington Capitals and four points behind the second-place New York Islanders. They've won three of their past four games.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Buffalo Sabres (6 p.m. ET; TVAS, MSG-B, FS-O, NHL.TV): The Blue Jackets have won four straight games and hold the second wild card from the East; they're one point behind the Hurricanes for the first wild card. Columbus is also tied in points with the Montreal Canadiens, but the Blue Jackets have a game in hand. The Sabres are eliminated from playoff contention.
Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV): The Bruins have won five of their past seven games and are second in the Atlantic, six points ahead of the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs. The Red Wings have won four straight games but are eliminated from playoff contention.
Calgary Flames at San Jose Sharks (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, NBCSCA): The Flames will clinch first place in the Western Conference and the Pacific Division with a win. They're six points ahead of the second-place Sharks. San Jose is six points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights, who they defeated 4-3 to end a seven-game losing streak (0-6-1) on Saturday.
Thought of the day
The Blue Jackets aren't in the most secure position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs race, but they're playing some of their best hockey as they try to hold onto the second wild card from the Eastern Conference.
Columbus, one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the first wild card and tied in points with the Montreal Canadiens, has looked impressive in its four-game winning streak during which they've outscored opponents 20-4. Credit much of that to goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who had two consecutive shutouts (5-0 against the Vancouver Canucks on March 24 and 4-0 against the New York Islanders on Tuesday). Bobrovsky had a shutout streak of 160 minutes, 40 seconds before Montreal defenseman Brett Kulak scored at 1:15 of the first period of Columbus' 6-2 win against the Canadiens on Thursday.
But their offense has also been outstanding. Forward Artemi Panarin has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past four games, including four assists in the Blue Jackets' 5-2 win against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Panarin has 83 points (27 goals, 56 assists) in 75 games; the points and assists are NHL career highs and established single-season franchise records. Forward Oliver Bjorkstrand has five goals in the past four games and forward Matt Duchene has five points, all assists, in his past three games.
The Blue Jackets have little breathing room, though they have a game in hand on the Canadiens. Columbus could create a little space if they defeat the Sabres on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; TVAS, MSG-B, FS-O, NHL.TV). Buffalo has won one of their past 14 games (1-11-2).
It's going to be a fight to secure the final playoff spots in the East, but the Blue Jackets seem to be peaking at the right time.
NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers
If playoffs started Sunday
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Sunday:
(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
(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
Each of the 12 games on the schedule Saturday had playoff implications:
Carolina Hurricanes 5, Philadelphia Flyers 2: The Hurricanes moved within two points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division and remained one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Flyers were eliminated from playoff contention.
Florida Panthers 4, Boston Bruins 1: The Bruins remained six points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division with four games remaining for each team.
Montreal Canadiens 3, Winnipeg Jets 1: The Canadiens stayed tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card from the East. The Canadiens have played one more game than the Blue Jackets. They are each one point behind the Hurricanes, who hold the first wild card. The Jets remained tied for first with the Nashville Predators in the Central Division and have one game in hand. The Jets and Predators lead the St. Louis Blues by two points.
Ottawa Senators 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2: The Maple Leafs missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth and remained six points behind the Bruins for second in the Atlantic.
Washington Capitals 6, Tampa Bay Lightning 3: On the night the Lightning were presented with the Presidents' Trophy, the defending Stanley Cup champions inched closer to the Metropolitan Division crown behind Alex Ovechkin's 50th and 51st goals of the season. The Capitals lead the New York Islanders by three points with three games to go. The Lightning, who have 122 points with four games remaining, cannot tie the all-time points record of 132 set by the 1976-77 Canadiens.
St. Louis Blues 3, New Jersey Devils 2 (OT): The Blues moved within two points of the Jets and Predators for first place in the Central Division and three points ahead of the Dallas Stars, who are the first wild card from the West.
New York Islanders 5, Buffalo Sabres 1: The Islanders clinched a playoff berth and moved four points ahead of the Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division. They are three points behind the first-place Capitals.
Columbus Blue Jackets 5, Nashville Predators 2: The Blue Jackets remained tied with the Canadiens for the second wild card from the East and one point behind the Hurricanes, who hold the first wild card. The Blue Jackets have a game in hand on the Canadiens. The Predators missed a chance to take over first in the Central and remained tied with the Jets.
San Jose Sharks 4, Vegas Golden Knights 3 (OT): The Sharks locked up home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs by ending their seven-game losing streak. The Sharks trail the Calgary Flames by six points for first place in the Pacific Division and Western Conference with four games remaining. The Golden Knights, who trail the Sharks by six points with three games remaining, will finish third in the Pacific Division.
Vancouver Canucks 3, Dallas Stars 2 (SO): The Stars missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth but moved four points ahead of the Avalanche for the first wild card from the West.
Anaheim Ducks 5, Edmonton Oilers 1: The Oilers remained eight points behind the Avalanche for the second wild card in the West with four games remaining.
Los Angeles Kings 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (OT): The Blackhawks picked up a point but are six points behind the Avalanche for the second wild card from the Western Conference with four games to play.