The Washington Capitals will clinch a playoff berth with a win in any fashion against the Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBCSWA, NHL.TV) and regulation losses by the Montreal Canadiens to the Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN2, FS-F, ESPN+, NHL.TV) and the Columbus Blue Jackets to the New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, FS-O, MSG+. NHL.TV).
The St. Louis Blues will clinch a playoff berth if the Arizona Coyotes lose to the Chicago Blackhawks (10 p.m. ET; FS-A, WGN, ESPN+, NHL.TV) in any fashion.
The Vegas Golden Knights will clinch a playoff berth if the Coyotes lose in any fashion.
There are seven games on the schedule Tuesday, six with playoff implications:
Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBCSWA, NHL.TV):The Capitals, first in the Metropolitan Division, can clinch a playoff berth with a win and regulation losses by the Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Capitals are 3-3-1 in their past seven games and with six games to play are one point ahead of the second-place New York Islanders (six games to play) and Pittsburgh Penguins (five to play). The Hurricanes hold the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference; they are three points ahead of the Canadiens and four behind the Islanders and Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.
New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, FS-O, MSG+, NHL.TV): The Islanders trail the Capitals by one point in the tight Metropolitan Division race for first. New York is also tied with Pittsburgh but has one game in hand. The Blue Jackets are two points behind the Canadiens for the second wild card from the East. Columbus has a game in hand.
Florida Panthers at Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN2, FS-F, NHL.TV): The Canadiens hold the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference; they are two points ahead of the Blue Jackets and three behind the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the first wild card. Florida trails Montreal by 10 points with six games to play.
Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers (9 p.m. ET; SNW, KCOP-13, NHL.TV): The Oilers trail the Colorado Avalanche by seven points for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Edmonton has seven games to play and four teams to pass to reach a playoff spot. The Kings have won three straight, including 3-0 at the Calgary Flames on Monday, but have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Anaheim Ducks at Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET; SNP, PRIME, NHL.TV): The Canucks are seven points behind the Avalanche for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Vancouver has six games to play and four teams to pass to reach a playoff spot. The Ducks are nine points behind the Avalanche with five games to play.
Chicago Blackhawks at Arizona Coyotes (10 p.m. ET; FS-A, WGN, NHL.TV): Arizona is coming off an 0-3-1 road trip and has fallen two points behind Colorado for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. The Coyotes have six games to play. Chicago trails Colorado by five points with seven games to play.
Thought of the Day
The Calgary Flames aren't getting enough love from most corners of the NHL.
Calgary leads the Pacific Division and the Western Conference with 101 points. With six games to play, the Flames have a six-point cushion on the second-place San Jose Sharks. When the race was closer earlier this month, and the Sharks briefly moved into the top spot during a six-game winning streak, the Flames calmly carried on. They're 6-2-0 in their past eight despite a 3-0 loss to the last-place Los Angeles Kings on Monday, while the Sharks have lost six straight.
Critics cite a big question mark with Calgary's goaltending, doubting David Rittich and Mike Smith. But the overall package looks more than capable of being a force in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With a strong defense led by Norris Trophy candidate Mark Giordano, the Flames are ninth in the NHL in goals against (209) and goals-against average (2.75).
In addition, Calgary's offense is the best in the Western Conference, tied with the Sharks at 268 goals in 76 games, an average of 3.53 goals per game. The Flames' goal differential, plus-59, is second in the NHL behind the runaway Presidents' Trophy winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are plus-95.
The month of February also proved that the Flames are battle-tested for the playoffs.
Their demanding schedule that month included travel to the West Coast and East Coast, even on the same trip, and had nine road games and four home games. The Flames went 8-3-2, a hint that they can handle adversity and are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell
If playoffs started Tuesday
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Tuesday:
(1A) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (WC2) Montreal Canadiens
(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
Eight of the nine games on the schedule Monday had playoff implications:
Toronto Maple Leafs 7, Florida Panthers 5: John Tavares scored four goals in a game for the first time in his NHL career, and the Maple Leafs moved within five points of the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division with six games to play. The Panthers fell 10 points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Video: Tavares' four goals propel Maple Leafs to 7-5 win
Pittsburgh Penguins 5, New York Rangers 2: The Penguins moved within one point of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division by winning their third straight game. The Penguins are tied with the New York Islanders for second place but have played one more game than the Islanders and Capitals.
Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Boston Bruins 4: The Lightning became the fourth team in NHL history to win at least 59 games, joining the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens (59 wins), 1976-77 Canadiens (60) and 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (62). Brad Marchand scored twice for Boston, which had its lead for second place in the Atlantic Division trimmed to five points.
St. Louis Blues 3, Vegas Golden Knights 1: The Blues moved four points behind the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division after the Jets lost to the Dallas Stars on Monday. St. Louis also trails the second-place Nashville Predators by two points. Vegas, which could have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with one point, remained five points behind the San Jose Sharks for second in the Pacific Division.
Nashville Predators 1, Minnesota Wild 0: The Predators became the fourth team from the Western Conference to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, riding a 29-save shutout from Juuse Saros. Nashville moved within two points of Winnipeg for first in the Central. The Jets, San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames are the other teams from the West to have clinched a berth in the playoffs. The Wild remained two points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card from the Western Conference.
Dallas Stars 5, Winnipeg Jets 2: The Stars moved three points ahead of the Avalanche for the first wild card from the West. Dallas remained four points behind the Blues for third place in the Central Division. The Jets had their lead for first place in the Central on the Predators cut to two points.
Los Angeles Kings 3, Calgary Flames 0: The Flames failed to extend their lead in the Pacific Division and Western Conference. They remain six points ahead of the second-place Sharks, who also lost Monday.
Detroit Red Wings 3, San Jose Sharks 2: The Sharks failed to gain ground on the Flames and remain six points out of first place in the Pacific Division and Western Conference. San Jose lost a season-high sixth straight game.