Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Penguins take lead in East Division

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2021 NHL postseason. There are 14 days left in the regular season and the races in each of the four divisions — the seven-team Scotia North Division and eight-team MassMutual East, Discover West and Honda Central — 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 five games Tuesday, each with playoff implications:

Buffalo Sabres 4, New York Islanders 3, SO: The Islanders, who have clinched a playoff berth, gained one point but stayed in fourth place in the East, one point behind the third-place Boston Bruins. New York couldn’t hold a 3-1 lead it built in the second period and is 2-3-2 in its past seven games. Sabres forward Anders Bjork scored twice to tie the game and then scored the only goal in the shootout. Buffalo has been eliminated from playoff contention.

New Jersey Devils 4, Boston Bruins 3, OT: The third-place Bruins, who have clinched a playoff berth, stayed ahead of the fourth-place Islanders in the East by earning one point in the overtime loss. They are two points behind the second-place Washington Capitals, each with four games remaining. The Bruins couldn’t hold a 3-2 lead in the third period and lost for the first time in five games (4-1-0). The Devils, who are 4-1-1 in their past six, have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Pittsburgh Penguins 7, Philadelphia Flyers 3: The Penguins moved into first place in the East, two points ahead of the Capitals. Washington has two games in hand. Sidney Crosby (two goals, one assist) and Jake Guentzel (one goal, two assists) each scored three points for the Penguins, who have clinched a playoff berth. The Flyers have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Carolina Hurricanes 6, Chicago Blackhawks 3: The Hurricanes won their fifth straight, extended their point streak to 12 games (9-0-3) and increased their lead for first place in the Central to four points on the second-place Florida Panthers. Carolina has a game in hand on Florida. The Hurricanes were down 2-0 in the first period before scoring four straight goals, including two from forward Andrei Svechnikov. The Blackhawks have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Edmonton Oilers 4, Vancouver Canucks 1: Edmonton center Connor McDavid had two assists to give him an NHL-high 93 points (31 goals, 62 assists) in 51 games, a 102-point pace this season. Leon Draisaitl scored two goals for the second-place Oilers, who won their third straight game and gained ground in the North to move within six points of the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs. Edmonton has a game in hand on Toronto. The Oilers are nine points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens, who are tied for third. The Canucks have lost six in a row and are seventh in the division, 16 points behind the Jets and Canadiens with four games in hand on each.

 

If playoffs started Wednesday 

Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Wednesday:

North Division 

(1) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (4) Montreal Canadiens
(2) Edmonton Oilers vs. (3) Winnipeg Jets

East Division 

(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) New York Islanders
(2) Washington Capitals vs. (3) Boston Bruins 

Central Division  

(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (4) Nashville Predators  
(2) Florida Panthers vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning

West Division  

(1) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (4) St. Louis Blues
(2) Colorado Avalanche vs. (3) Minnesota Wild 

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