Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Panthers can move into 2nd wild card in East
Oilers, Kings in key Pacific battle; Bruins eye Presidents' TrophyNHL.com @NHLdotcom
Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2023 NHL postseason. There are 15 days left in the regular season and the races in each of the four divisions are tight. The top three teams in each of the four divisions and the next two highest-place finishers in each conference reach the playoffs.
Here's a look at the NHL standings and everything else that could impact the playoff picture.
Here are the Stanley Cup Playoffs clinching scenarios for March 30:
The Boston Bruins will clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and the Presidents' Trophy:
If they defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets in any fashion (7 p.m. ET; SN360, NESN, BSOH, ESPN+, SN NOW).
If they get one point against the Blue Jackets AND the Carolina Hurricanes lose to the Detroit Red Wings in any fashion (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU).
If the Hurricanes lose to the Red Wings in regulation.
The Vegas Golden Knights will clinch a playoff berth:
If they defeat the San Jose Sharks in any fashion (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, ATTSN-RM, ESPN+, SN NOW).
If they get one point against the Sharks AND any result in the Nashville Predators-Pittsburgh Penguins game (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, BSSO, ESPN+, SN NOW) other than a Predators regulation win.
If the Predators lose to the Penguins in regulation.
There are 11 games on the NHL schedule Thursday, 10 with playoff implications.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; SN360, NESN, BSOH, ESPN+, SN NOW)
The Bruins (57-12-5) can lock up the Presidents' Trophy and set a new team record for wins in a season by defeating the Blue Jackets at TD Garden. Columbus (23-43-7) has been eliminated from playoff contention.
Florida Panthers at Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, BSFL, ESPN+, SN NOW)
The Panthers (37-31-7) are one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky did not play against Toronto because of a non-COVID illness. He went to Montreal on Wednesday and could play at Bell Centre. The Canadiens (30-39-6) have been eliminated from postseason contention.
New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; MSGSN, MSG, ESPN+, SN NOW)
The Devils (46-20-8) have a two-point lead on the Rangers (44-20-10) for second place in the Metropolitan Division. New Jersey is three points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for first; New York is five back. The Rangers are 9-1-1 in their past 11 games and can move into a second place tie with a regulation win at Prudential Center. The Devils are 2-4-2 in their past eight games.
Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, BSSO, ESPN+, SN NOW)
The Penguins (36-28-10) are trying to hold onto the second wild card from the East. They are one point ahead of the Panthers. The Predators (37-28-8), coming off a 2-1 win at the Bruins on Tuesday, are three points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference with two games in hand.
Philadelphia Flyers at Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, NBCSP, ESPN+, SN NOW)
The Senators (36-33-5) are five points behind the Penguins for the second wild card from the East and will be without defenseman Thomas Chabot potentially for the rest of the regular season. Chabot sustained an upper-body injury in the third period of a 5-2 win against the Panthers on Monday. The Flyers (29-32-12) have won four straight games but are 12 points out of a playoff spot with nine games to play.
Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; BSSUN, NBCSWA, ESPN+, SN NOW)
The Lightning (43-26-6) are six points behind the Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division. Toronto has a game in hand. The Capitals (34-32-9) are five points behind the Penguins for the second wild card in the East with seven games to play after losing 2-1 in a shootout to the New York Islanders on Wednesday.
Carolina Hurricanes at Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, SN NOW)
The Hurricanes (47-17-9) are trying to hold onto first place in the Metropolitan Division. They can stay at least three points ahead of the Devils with a win. They can also move four or five points ahead of New Jersey with a win and a Devils loss to the Rangers. The Red Wings (32-32-9) are nine points out of a playoff spot with nine games to play.
Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers (9 p.m. ET; SNW, BSSC, ESPN+, SN NOW)
The Kings (43-21-10) are second in the Pacific Division with 96 points in 74 games, one more point in one fewer game than the Oilers (43-23-9). They each trail the Vegas Golden Knights, who have 98 points in 74 games. Edmonton will move into second place in the Pacific with a regulation win.
Anaheim Ducks at Seattle Kraken (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, SN360, SN NOW)
A win and the Kraken (40-25-8) would inch closer to their first playoff berth. Seattle is in position to be the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference with 88 points in 73 games. They are three points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, who hold the second wild card, and five points ahead of the Calgary Flames. The Ducks (23-41-10) have lost five in a row and have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, ATTSN-RM, ESPN+, SN NOW)
The Golden Knights (46-22-6) can clinch a playoff berth and stay in first place in the Pacific Division with a win against the Sharks (20-39-15). San Jose played spoiler with a 3-0 win against Winnipeg on Tuesday, ending a nine-game losing streak (0-6-3). The Sharks have been eliminated from playoff contention.
If playoffs started Thursday
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Thursday:
(1A) Boston Bruins vs. (WC2) Pittsburgh Penguins
(1M) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (WC1) New York Islanders
(2A) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (3A) Tampa Bay Lightning
(2M) New Jersey Devils vs. (3M) New York Rangers
(1P) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (WC2) Winnipeg Jets
(1C) Minnesota Wild vs. (WC1) Seattle Kraken
(2C) Dallas Stars vs. (3C) Colorado Avalanche
(2P) Los Angeles Kings vs. (3P) Edmonton Oilers
About Last Night
There were three games Wednesday, each with playoff implications.
Florida Panthers 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 2 (OT): Brandon Montour scored 1:41 into overtime after Sam Reinhart scored a game-tying power-play goal with 1:00 remaining in the third period at Scotiabank Arena, ending the Panthers' four-game losing streak. Florida (37-31-7) is one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with seven games to play. The Penguins have a game in hand. Alex Lyon made 38 saves, playing because Sergei Bobrovsky was out with a non-COVID illness. With the one point earned, the Maple Leafs (44-20-10) increased their lead to six points over the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division with eight games remaining. Toronto has a game in hand.
New York Islanders 2, Washington Capitals 1 (SO): Kyle Palmieri scored the shootout-deciding goal in the second round and Ilya Sorokin preserved it with a save on Nicklas Backstrom in the third round to lift the Islanders to the win at Capital One Arena. The Islanders (39-28-9) moved five points ahead of the Penguins for the first wild card from the East with six games remaining. The Penguins have two games in hand. By getting one point, the Capitals (34-32-9) moved within five points of the Penguins for the second wild card with seven games to play.
Minnesota Wild 4, Colorado Avalanche 2:The Wild (44-22-9) increased their lead for first place in the Central Division to three points with the win at Ball Arena. Frederick Gaudreau became the first player in Wild history to score two shorthanded goals in the same game. Sam Steel and Marcus Johansson each scored, and Filip Gustavsson made 42 saves, including 18 on 19 shots in the third period. Minnesota is 8-0-3 on the road since Feb. 23. Bowen Byram and Lars Eller scored for the Avalanche (44-23-6), who remain tied for second in the Central with the Dallas Stars. Each has 94 points in 74 games.