Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2021 NHL postseason. There are eight days left in the regular season and each of the 16 spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been claimed. The four berths in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, the eight-team Honda West Division, the eight-team Discover Central Division and the seven-team Scotia North Division have been clinched. Still, playoff positions in the North and West have yet to be determined.
Here is a look at the NHL standings and everything else that could impact the playoff picture.
There are two games on the NHL schedule Tuesday, each with playoff implications:
Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSWA, NESNplus, NHL.TV): There are no playoff implications in this game, simply a preview of the best-of-7 first-round series between the second-place Capitals and third-place Bruins in the East. Boston is 4-1-2 against Washington and Bruins forward Brad Marchand has scored 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in the season series.
Vancouver Canucks at Winnipeg Jets (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, TSN3, SNP, NHL.TV): If the Jets get a point, they will clinch third place in the North and play the second-place Edmonton Oilers in the best-of-7 first round. Winnipeg is one point ahead of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens with one game in hand and owns the regulation wins tiebreaker (22 to 20). Jets forward Paul Stastny will play his 1,000th NHL game.
About last night
There were nine games Monday, six with playoff implications:
Edmonton Oilers 4, Montreal Canadiens 3, OT: Connor McDavid scored with 2:18 remaining in overtime to give the Oilers the win and the center his 102nd point in 54 games this season. Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen scored at 13:04 of the third period to tie the game, force overtime and give Montreal the point it needed to clinch the final berth in the playoffs, its second straight postseason appearance. The Canadiens are fourth in the North, one point behind the third-place Jets, who have one game in hand. The Oilers are second in the division and have clinched home-ice advantage against either the Jets or Canadiens in the first round.
Boston Bruins 3, New York Islanders 2, OT: Taylor Hall scored his second goal of the game 2:53 into overtime and the Bruins locked up third place in the East and a matchup with the second-place Capitals in the first round. The Islanders are fourth in the division and will face the No. 1 seed Pittsburgh Penguins. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, who started and made 25 saves, left after the second period, but coach Barry Trotz later said the move was preventative because of “a little strain.” Ilya Sorokin finished the game, making 10 saves.
Florida Panthers 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 0: The Panthers clinched the No. 2 seed in the Central with a shutout against the third-place Lightning, whom they will face in the first round of the playoffs. By winning each game of their season-ending two-game set, the Panthers finished four points ahead of the Lightning to earn home-ice advantage. The Panthers, who got a 30-save shutout from goalie Chris Driedger, ended the season with six straight wins and finished one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes, the No. 1 seed in the division. The Lightning, who were 3-5-0 against the Panthers, lost their final three games of the season.
Vancouver Canucks 3, Winnipeg Jets 1: The Canucks handed the Jets their ninth loss in their past 10 games (1-9-0) but were eliminated from playoff contention when the fourth-place Canadiens earned one point against the Oilers. Nils Hoglander scored two goals and goalie Thatcher Demko made 39 saves for the Canucks, who have six games remaining. The Jets are third in the North, one point ahead of the Canadiens, with one game in hand.
Nashville Predators 5, Carolina Hurricanes 0: Predators goalie Pekka Rinne earned his 369th win to tie Tom Barrasso for 19th in NHL history and 60th shutout (19th). Matt Duchene scored two goals and the Predators swept a two-game set between the teams to end the regular season. The Hurricanes, the No. 1 seed in the Central, and No. 4 seed Predators will play in a best-of-7 first-round series.
Colorado Avalanche 2, Vegas Golden Knights 1: Rookie forward Alex Newhook had two assists and goalie Philipp Grubauer made 36 saves for the Avalanche, who denied the Golden Knights in their bid to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy and No. 1 seed in the West. Vegas remains first in the division, two points ahead of second-place Colorado, which has one game in hand. The Golden Knights, Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs each remain in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. Vegas has 80 points with one game left to play; Colorado has 78 points and two games remaining; Toronto has 76 points with two games left.
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. New York Islanders
2. Washington Capitals 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