Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2021 NHL postseason. There are 19 days left in the regular season and the races in each of the four divisions — the seven-team Scotia North and the eight team MassMutual East, Discover Central and Honda West — are tight. The top four teams in each of the four divisions qualify for the playoffs.
Here’s a look at the NHL Standings and everything else that could impact the playoff picture.
About last night
There were 10 games Thursday, each with playoff implications.
Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Dallas Stars 0: Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves for his fifth shutout of the season for the Lightning, who are third in the Central, one point behind the second-place Florida Panthers and three behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes. The Stars are fifth in the division, two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
Boston Bruins 5, Buffalo Sabres 2: David Krejci scored a goal and an assist and Taylor Hall also scored for the Bruins, who are fourth in the East, one point behind the third-place New York Islanders and six points ahead of the fifth-place New York Rangers. The Sabres, who’ve been eliminated from playoff contention, are 1-5-0 in their past six games.
New Jersey Devils 5, Philadelphia Flyers 3: Sean Couturier scored his 15th goal of the season, but the Flyers were eliminated from playoff contention with their second straight loss to the Devils. Yegor Sharangovich scored two goals for the Devils, who were already eliminated from playoff contention.
New York Islanders 4, New York Rangers 0: Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves for his NHL-leading sixth shutout of the season and the Islanders remained third in the East, one point ahead of the fourth-place Bruins and four points behind the first-place Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers, who had their three-game winning streak end, are fifth in the East, six points behind the Bruins.
Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Washington Capitals 4 (OT): The Penguins and Capitals each clinched a berth in the playoffs and are tied for first in the East after Jake Guentzel scored at 2:11 of overtime. Washington’s Tom Wilson scored the tying goal with 15 seconds left in the third period to give Washington the point it needed to qualify. Pittsburgh clinched a playoff berth for the 15th straight season, the longest active streak among teams in the four major North American professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA).
Carolina Hurricanes 3, Detroit Red Wings 1: Teuvo Teravainen scored a goal and had an assist for Hurricanes, who remained first in the Central, two points ahead of the second-place Panthers. Sebastian Aho had two assists for Carolina, which already clinched a playoff spot, as has Florida and third-place Tampa Bay. The Red Wings were eliminated from playoff contention on Monday.
Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Vancouver Canucks 1: Auston Matthews scored his 36th goal of the season for the Maple Leafs, who are first in the North, nine points ahead of the second-place Edmonton Oilers. Toronto has won four straight games and had previously clincher a playoff berth. The Canucks, who have lost three in a row, are seventh in the division, 10 points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens with four games in hand.
St. Louis Blues 5, Minnesota Wild 4 (OT): Ryan O’Reilly scored two goals, including the winner 3:43 into overtime for the Blues, who moved five points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West. The Blues have won four a row. Kevin Fiala scored for the Wild, who have clinched a playoff berth and are tied with the Colorado Avalanche for second in the West. The Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights have also clinched berths from the West.
Florida Panthers 4, Chicago Blackhawks 3 (OT): Sam Bennett scored with 52 seconds remaining in overtime for the Panthers, who are second in the Central, two points behind the first-place Hurricanes and one point ahead of the third-place Lightning. Alex DeBrincat scored with 18 seconds remaining in regulation for the Blackhawks, who are sixth in the Central, six points behind the fourth-place Predators.
Calgary Flames 3, Edmonton Oilers 1: Elias Lindholm scored two goals for the Flames, who are fifth in the North, four points behind the fourth-place Canadiens. The Oilers are second in the division, three points ahead of the third-place Winnipeg Jets.
If the playoffs started Friday
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Friday:
1. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 4. Montreal Canadiens
2. Edmonton Oilers vs. 3. Winnipeg Jets
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. St. Louis Blues
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 3. Minnesota Wild