Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2021 NHL postseason. There are 20 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 seven games that had playoff implications on Wednesday.
Ottawa Senators 6, Vancouver Canucks 3: Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot each had a goal and an assist for the Senators, who moved into sixth place in the North, nine points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The Canucks are seventh, 10 points behind Canadiens, with five games in hand.
St. Louis Blues 4, Minnesota Wild 3: Robert Thomas scored with 23 seconds left in the third period for the Blues, who moved three points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes for the final playoff spot in the West. Minnesota, which had its seven-game winning streak end, clinched a playoff berth April 24, and trails the Colorado Avalanche by one point for second in the division. The Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights have also clinched berths in the West.
Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Montreal Canadiens 1: Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 35th goal and Joe Thornton became the seventh player in NHL history with 1,100 assists, and the Maple Leafs clinched a playoff berth with their third straight win. Toronto leads the Edmonton Oilers by seven points for first in the North. The Canadiens have lost three of their past four games and are six points ahead of the Calgary Flames for fourth.
Edmonton Oilers 3, Winnipeg Jets 1: Connor McDavid had three assists for the Oilers and has scored at least two points in each of Edmonton’s nine games against Winnipeg this season (22 points; seven goals, 15 assists). The Oilers have won four of its past five games and are second in the North, three points ahead of the Jets, who have lost five in a row. First-place Toronto is seven points ahead of Edmonton.
Vegas Golden Knights 5, Colorado Avalanche 2: The Golden Knights extended their winning streak to 10 games and moved six points ahead of the Avalanche for first in the West. Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves for his 488th win, one shy of tying Roberto Luongo for third in NHL history. The Avalanche have lost three in a row after winning their previous five. Each team has qualified for the playoffs.
Anaheim Ducks 3, Los Angeles Kings 2: Cam Fowler scored with 1:01 remaining in the third period and the Ducks ended a five-game losing streak. Anaheim was eliminated from playoff contention after the Blues defeated the Wild on Wednesday. Quinton Byfield, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, had four shots on goal and won 8 of 12 face-offs in 17:21 of ice time in his NHL debut for the Kings. Los Angeles is seventh in the West, eight points behind fourth-place St. Louis for the final playoff spot.
San Jose Sharks 4, Arizona Coyotes 2: The Sharks swept the two-game set after losing their previous eight games. Arizona, which lost for the ninth time in 11 games (2-9-0), is fifth in the West, three points behind the Blues for the final spot in the division with St. Louis holding three games in hand. The Sharks are sixth, five points behind the Blues.
If playoffs started Thursday
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Thursday:
(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