Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2021 NHL postseason. There are 15 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 qualify for the playoffs.
Here is a look at the NHL Standings and everything else that could impact the playoff picture.
About Last Night
There were 14 games Monday, each with playoff implications:
Florida Panthers 5, Dallas Stars 4, OT: The Stars came back to score two goals in the third period, including one by forward Tyler Seguin, but lost to the Panthers in overtime on an Aleksander Barkov goal at 2:50 on the power play. Seguin had returned after missing the first 51 games of the season following hip surgery. The Panthers are second in the Central, two points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes and two points ahead of the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning. The Stars are in fifth in the division, four points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators, with one game in hand.
Buffalo Sabres 4, New York Islanders 2: Semyon Varlamov‘s shutout streak ended at 248 minutes for the Islanders, and the Sabres ended a four-game losing streak. Sabres goalie Michael Houser made 34 saves in his NHL debut, after not starting a professional game since March 7, 2020 with Cincinnati of the ECHL. The Islanders fell to fourth in the East with the loss, one point behind the Boston Bruins. The Sabres have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Boston Bruins 3, New Jersey Devils 0: The Bruins clinched the final spot in the East, their fifth consecutive playoff berth, with the shutout of the Devils. Tuukka Rask made 20 saves and Patrice Bergeron scored his 20th goal of the season for the Bruins, who won their fourth straight game and 10th in their last 12 (10-2-0). Boston moved into third in the division, one point ahead of the Islanders, and is three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals for first place. The Devils had previously been eliminated from playoff contention.
Washington Capitals 6, New York Rangers 3: The Capitals won for the first time in three games (1-1-1) and are tied for first in the East with the Penguins, with one game in hand. Washington forward Alex Ovechkin played one shift before leaving the game; he had not played since April 22 because of a lower-body injury. The Rangers, who’ve lost three in a row, were eliminated from playoff contention.
Philadelphia Flyers 7, Pittsburgh Penguins 2: Claude Giroux had two goals and an assist for the Flyers, who ended a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin returned for the Penguins, playing for the first time since March 16 after missing 23 games with a lower-body injury, and had an assist. The Penguins are tied for first in the East with the Capitals, three points ahead of the third-place Bruins. The Flyers have been eliminated from contention.
Carolina Hurricanes 5, Chicago Blackhawks 2: Sebastian Aho scored a hat trick for the Hurricanes, who extended their point streak to 11 games (8-0-3) and their winning streak to four. Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, who made 15 saves for Carolina, is 7-0-1 in his past eight starts. The Hurricanes are first in the Central, two points ahead of the Panthers. The loss by the Blackhawks, their fifth straight (0-4-1), eliminated them from playoff contention.
Nashville Predators 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3, OT: Despite losing a three-goal lead in the third period, the Predators defeated the Blue Jackets on Roman Josi‘s second goal, at 3:24 of overtime. The Blue Jackets came back on the strength of a natural hat trick in the third period by Emil Bemstrom, before losing. Nashville is fourth in the Central, four points ahead of fifth-place Dallas. Columbus has been eliminated from playoff contention.
Montreal Canadiens 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 2, OT: Cole Caulfield scored in overtime for the second consecutive game, winning the game for the Canadiens with 17 seconds remaining and becoming the third player in NHL history to score his first two goals in overtime. Defenseman Jeff Petry had three assists for Montreal, which is tied for third with the Winnipeg Jets in the North, 10 points ahead of the fifth-place Calgary Flames. The Maple Leafs are first in the division, eight points ahead of the second-place Edmonton Oilers.
Ottawa Senators 2, Winnipeg Jets 1: The Jets lost their seventh straight game and are now tied for third in the North with the Canadiens, 10 points ahead of the fifth-place Flames. Nikita Zaitsev scored with 1:13 remaining in the third period for the Senators, who have been eliminated from playoff contention.
St. Louis Blues 3, Anaheim Ducks 1: Robert Bortuzzo scored to break a tie early in the third period and Jordan Binnington made 19 saves for the Blues, who are 5-0-1 in their past six games and fourth in the West, five points ahead of the fifth-place Arizona Coyotes. The Ducks have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Minnesota Wild 6, Vegas Golden Knights 5: The Wild scored two goals in 26 seconds, the second coming with 1:06 remaining in the third period, to defeat the Golden Knights. Jonas Brodin scored the game winner after Kirill Kaprizov had tied the game with 1:32 left. Nick Bonino had two goals and an assist for the Wild. The Golden Knights remain first in the West, two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche and four ahead of the third-place Wild.
Los Angeles Kings 3, Arizona Coyotes 2: Anze Kopitar scored a goal and an assist for the Kings, giving him 999 points in the NHL. The Coyotes, 3-10-1 in their past 14 games, are fifth in the West, five points behind the fourth-place Blues. Jonathan Quick made 17 saves before leaving with an upper-body injury after the second period for the Kings, who are sixth in the division, four points behind the Coyotes.
Edmonton Oilers 5, Vancouver Canucks 3: The Oilers clinched a playoff berth for the second straight season. Edmonton center Connor McDavid scored four points (two goals, two assists) and leads the NHL with 91 (31 goals, 60 assists) in 50 games. McDavid is on pace to score 101 points in this shortened season and has scored at least three points in six of the past seven games for the Oilers, who are second in the North, eight points behind the Maple Leafs. The Canucks have lost five in a row and are seventh in the division, 16 points behind the Canadiens and Jets, who are tied for third place. Vancouver has five games in hand on each of Montreal and Winnipeg.
Colorado Avalanche 5, San Jose Sharks 4, OT: Andre Burakovsky scored 41 seconds into overtime after the Avalanche had tied the game with 3:39 left in the third period on a goal by Nazem Kadri. Nathan MacKinnon scored two points, extending his road point streak to 17 games, as the Avalanche won their third straight game. Colorado is second in the West, two points behind first-place Vegas and two points ahead of third-place Minnesota. The loss eliminated the Sharks from playoff contention.
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. Washington Capitals vs. 4. New York Islanders
2. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 3. Boston Bruins
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