Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2021 NHL postseason. There are 22 days left in the regular season and the races in each of the four divisions — the seven-team Scotia North and eight-team MassMutual East, Discover Central and Honda West — are tight. The top four teams in each of the four divisions reach the playoffs.
Here is a look at the NHL Standings and everything else that could impact the playoff picture.
About last night
There were eight games Monday, each with playoff implications:
Dallas Stars 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3 (OT): The Hurricanes came back after trailing 2-0 and 3-2 to reach overtime and clinch a playoff berth for the third-straight season. Carolina extended its Central Division lead to two points ahead of the second-place Florida Panthers and three points ahead of the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning. Jamie Benn scored four points (one goal, three assists) including the winning goal 2:44 into overtime for the Stars, who remained fifth in the division, two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
Nashville Predators 4, Florida Panthers 1: Juuse Saros made 39 saves and Erik Haula had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who maintained their two-point lead on the Stars for fourth in the Central. The Panthers, who could’ve clinched a playoff berth with a win, fell two points behind the first-place Hurricanes and remained one point ahead of the third-place Lightning. The teams meet again Tuesday. Nashville’s victory also eliminated the Detroit Red Wings from playoff contention.
Edmonton Oilers 6, Winnipeg Jets 1: Connor McDavid scored his third hat trick of the season and had an assist for Edmonton which climbed into second in the North Division, one point ahead of third-place Winnipeg. McDavid leads the NHL with 81 points (28 goals, 53 assists) in 46 games this season. The Jets have lost four in a row.
Montreal Canadiens 2, Calgary Flames 1: Tyler Toffoli scored his 25th goal of the season to snap a 1-1 tie with 1:55 remaining in the second period and Jake Allen made 21 saves for Montreal, which won the finale of a three-game set after losing the first two. The Canadiens moved six points ahead of the fifth-place Flames for fourth in the North.
Ottawa Senators 2, Vancouver Canucks 1: Marcus Hogberg made 25 saves to earn his first win since Feb. 15 for the Senators, who have won two of the first three games of a four-game set between the teams. The sixth-place Canucks fell 10 points behind the fourth-place Canadiens in the North with five games in hand. The seventh-place Senators remained 11 points behind the Canadiens.
St. Louis Blues 4, Colorado Avalanche 1: David Perron had a goal and two assists and Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for the Blues, who defeated the Avalanche for the second time in three days. St. Louis moved one point ahead of the Arizona Coyotes into the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division with three games in hand. Nathan MacKinnon scored a power-play goal to extend his point streak to 14 games (nine goals, 16 assists) for the second-place Avalanche, who remained four points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights and one point ahead of the third-place Minnesota Wild in the West.
San Jose Sharks 6, Arizona Coyotes 4: Alexander Barabanov‘s first NHL goal at 11:17 of the third period was the game-winner for the Sharks, who jumped out to a 4-0 second-period lead and held on to end a 0-7-1 slide. Defenseman Jakob Chychrun scored twice for the Coyotes, who dropped into fifth in the West, one point behind the Blues. The Sharks are sixth in the division, five points behind the Blues.
Los Angeles Kings 4, Anaheim Ducks 1: Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist for Los Angeles, which is seventh in the West, six points behind fourth-place St. Louis. The Kings are 2-4-0 in their past six games with both wins coming against the Ducks, who have lost five in a row. Anaheim is eighth in the West, 13 points behind St. Louis, and would’ve been eliminated from playoff contention with an Arizona win.
If playoffs started Tuesday
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Tuesday:
1. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 4. Montreal Canadiens
2. Edmonton Oilers vs. 3 Winnipeg Jets
1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 4. Boston Bruins
2. Washington Capitals 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. St. Louis Blues
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 3. Minnesota Wild