Stanley Cup playoff buzz: Panthers one point behind first at center
Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, a daily preview of the races for the 2021 NHL Playoffs. There are 24 days left in the regular season, and races in each of the four divisions – the seven Scotia North teams and the eight MassMutual East, Discover Central and Honda West teams – are close. The top four teams from each of the four divisions advance to the playoffs.
Here is an overview of the NHL Ranking and anything that could impact the image of the playoffs.
About last night
There were 11 games on Saturday, each with playoff implications:
Pittsburgh Penguins 4, New Jersey Devils 2: Sidney crosby scored his 20th goal of the season, becoming the first Penguins player to score at least 20 in 13 seasons, before 12 seasons by Mario Lemieux and Evgeni malkin. Pittsburgh has won three straight wins and is 7-1-1 in its last nine games. The Penguins are second in the East, one point behind the Washington Capitals and two points ahead of the New York Islanders.
St. Louis Blues 5, Colorado Avalanche 3: Blues end Avalanche’s five-game winning streak with center hat trick Ryan o’reilly. St. Louis is one point behind the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the West. The Avalanche, second, follows the Vegas Golden Knights by four points for first place in the division and is one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild, third.
Calgary Flames 5, Montreal Canadiens 2: For the second night in a row, the Flames beat the Canadiens and gained ground on them for last playoff spot in the North. Calgary is fifth in the division, four points behind fourth-placed Montreal. Flames ahead Johnny Gaudreau scored two goals and the goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom made 30 stops.
Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Winnipeg Jets 1: The Maple Leafs solidified their grip on the first place in the North with their second straight victory over the second place Jets. Toronto leads Winnipeg by eight points. The Jets, who have lost three in a row, are one point ahead of the third-placed Edmonton Oilers.
Washington Capitals 6, New York Islanders 3: With their second straight win over the Islanders, the Capitals returned to first place in the East, one point ahead of the second-placed Penguins. The Islanders are third in the division, two points behind the Penguins and three behind the Capitals. Washington played without a striker Alex ovechkin, who has a lower body injury.
Florida Panthers 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3, OT: The Panthers defeated the Hurricanes on Aleksander Barkovgoal 24 seconds into overtime and are one point behind Carolina for first place in the Central. Florida, second, is three points ahead of the third-placed Tampa Bay Lightning.
Dallas Stars 2, Detroit Red Wings 1, OT: Jamie benn scored 32 seconds of overtime for the Stars, who are fifth behind Central, two points behind the Nashville Predators, fourth. The Red Wings are seventh in the division, 12 points behind the Predators.
Vegas Golden Knights 5, Anaheim Ducks 1: The Golden Knights won their ninth straight game, tying the longest winning streak in the NHL this season (New York Islanders, Feb. 28-March 14). Vegas is first in the West, four points ahead of the Avalanche. The Ducks are eighth in the division, 12 points behind the Coyotes, fourth.
Minnesota Wild 6, San Jose Sharks 3: With their seventh consecutive victory, the Wild have earned a playoff berth for the eighth time in nine seasons. The Wilds are the third team in the West to land, the only division a team has made, and they’re one point behind the Avalanche for second place. The Sharks are sixth in the division, six points behind the fourth Coyotes.
Vancouver Canucks 4, Ottawa Senators 2: The Canucks have earned their third victory in four games (3-1-0) since returning from an 18-day hiatus due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Vancouver is sixth in the North, eight points behind Montreal, fourth, with five games in hand. Ottawa is seventh in the division, 11 points behind Montreal.
Arizona Coyotes 4, Los Angeles Kings 0: Darcy kuemper made 26 saves and won their second shutout of the season for the Coyotes, who are fourth in the West, one point ahead of the Blues, who have three games in hand. The Coyotes had lost seven of eight (1-7-0) before the win. The Kings are seventh in the division, seven points behind the Coyotes with three games in hand.
If the playoffs started on Sunday
Here’s a look at the first round matches as they enter the matches on Sunday.:
1. Toronto Maple Leafs vs 4. Montreal Canadiens
2. Winnipeg Jets vs. 3. Edmonton Oilers
1. Washington Capitals vs. 4. Boston Bruins
2. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 3. New York Islanders
1. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 4. Nashville Predators
2. Florida Panthers vs. 3. Tampa Bay Lightning
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 4. Arizona Coyotes
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 3. Minnesota Wild