Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Canucks clinch berth, look to strengthen lead in Pacific Division

Capitals move into 3rd in Metropolitan; Flyers 2nd wild card in East after 4th straight loss

Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz 3 31

Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2024 NHL postseason. There are 19 days left in the regular season and the races in each of the four divisions are tight. The top three teams in each of the four divisions and the next two highest-place finishers in each conference reach the playoffs.

Here is a look at the NHL standings and everything else that could impact the playoff picture.

There are no playoff clinching scenarios for March 31.

On Tap

There is one game on the NHL schedule Sunday, and it has playoff implications:

Anaheim Ducks at Vancouver Canucks (3:30 p.m. ET; SN360, SNP, TNT, MAX)

The Canucks (45-20-8) will look to strengthen their hold on first place in the Pacific Division and move closer to first in the Western Conference after clinching a playoff berth when the St. Louis Blues lost 4-0 to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Vancouver, which has lost its past two games, leads the Edmonton Oilers by four points for first in the Pacific and trails the Dallas Stars by five points for first in the West. The Ducks (24-46-4) have been eliminated from playoff contention.

If playoffs started Sunday

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

Eastern Conference

(1M) New York Rangers vs. (WC2) Philadelphia Flyers
(1A) Boston Bruins vs. (WC1) Tampa Bay Lightning


(2A) Florida Panthers vs. (3A) Toronto Maple Leafs
(2M) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (3M) Washington Capitals

Western Conference

(1C) Dallas Stars vs. (WC2) Los Angeles Kings
(1P) Vancouver Canucks vs. (WC1) Nashville Predators


(2C) Colorado Avalanche vs. (3C) Winnipeg Jets
(2P) Edmonton Oilers vs. (3P) Vegas Golden Knights

About last night

There were 15 games Saturday, each with playoff implications:

Florida Panthers 3, Detroit Red Wings 2 (SO): Aleksander Barkov scored twice, and Sam Reinhart had the only goal in the shootout for the Panthers (47-22-5), who kept pace with the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division race. Florida is also five points behind the New York Rangers in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. The Red Wings (36-30-8), who have lost the first four of a five-game road trip (0-2-2), are two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card in the East.

Vegas Golden Knights 2, Minnesota Wild 1 (OT): The Wild (35-29-9) forfeited a point in their race to move into a wild card position in the West after they pulled goalie Filip Gustavsson in overtime, which allowed Jonathan Marchessault to score his 40th goal of the season. Minnesota is eight points behind Los Angeles for the second wild card in the West and each team has nine games remaining. With the win, the Golden Knights (41-25-8) opened up a three-point lead on the Kings for third place in the Pacific, but Los Angeles has a game in hand.

Edmonton Oilers 6, Anaheim Ducks 1: Connor McDavid had three points (two goals, one assist) for the Oilers (45-23-4), who moved within four points of the idle Canucks for first place in the Pacific. Edmonton kept its four-point lead on Vegas for second place. McDavid has 125 points (29 goals, 96 assists) in 70 games, two behind Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and one back of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov in the race for the Art Ross Trophy. Anaheim (24-46-4) has already been eliminated from the postseason.

New York Rangers 8, Arizona Coyotes 5: The Rangers (50-20-4) held onto the lead in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy when Jonathan Quick made 27 saves for his 392nd victory, passing Ryan Miller for the most by an American goalie. New York, the first team to 50 victories and winners of five straight, holds a one-point lead on Dallas for the top spot in the League, and a three-point lead on the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Arizona (31-38-5) has already been eliminated from the playoffs.

Colorado Avalanche 7, Nashville Predators 4: MacKinnon had four points (two goals, two assists) for the Avalanche, who kept pace with the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division. Colorado (47-21-6) is three points behind Dallas but holds a game in hand. The Predators (43-27-4) remain three points ahead of the Kings for the first wild card from the West and are four points behind the Winnipeg Jets for third place in the Central. Nashville has lost its past two after a franchise-record 18-game point streak (16-0-2).

Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Buffalo Sabres 0: Auston Matthews scored his 60th goal, and Ilya Samsonov had a shutout for the Maple Leafs (42-22-9), who maintained their four-point lead on the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division. Toronto remains six points behind the Florida Panthers for second place. The Sabres (35-35-5) are seven points behind the Flyers for the second wild card in the East with seven games remaining.

Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (SO): The Penguins surrendered a 3-1 lead and lost a valuable point in their quest to make the postseason. Pittsburgh (32-30-11) moved within seven points of Philadelphia for the second wild card in the East but would have closed the gap to six with a win. Plus, the Penguins have to pass the New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders and the Red Wings to catch the Flyers. Columbus (24-38-12) has already been eliminated from playoff contention.

Carolina Hurricanes 3, Montreal Canadiens 0: Pyotr Kochetkov made 26 saves in his fourth shutout of the season for the Hurricanes (47-21-7), who have won eight of 10 and remained three points back of the Rangers in the Metropolitan race. The Canadiens (28-32-12) are 14 points behind the Flyers for the second wild card in the East.

Chicago Blackhawks 5, Philadelphia Flyers 1: The Flyers (36-29-10) lost their fourth straight game (0-3-1) to fall into a tie with the Capitals for third in the Metropolitan and now hold the second wild card in the East. Tyson Foerster scored, and Samuel Ersson made 19 saves for Philadelphia. Philipp Kurashev, Lukas Reichel and Joey Anderson each had a goal and an assist and Arvid Soderblom made 30 saves for Chicago (22-47-5), which has been eliminated from playoff contention.

Tampa Bay Lightning 4, New York Islanders 1: Anthony Cirelli had two goals and had an assist for the Lightning (41-25-7), who increased its lead for the first wild card in the East to seven points ahead of the Flyers. Tampa Bay, which has won three in a row and has points in nine straight games (8-0-1), remained four points behind Toronto for third in the Atlantic. Kyle Palmieri scored for the Islanders (31-27-15), who have lost eight of 10 (2-7-1) and trail the Flyers by five points for the second wild card in the East.

Ottawa Senators 3, Winnipeg Jets 2: The Jets (44-24-6) lost their sixth straight game (0-5-1) to fall six points behind the Avalanche for second in the Central Division and remain four points ahead of the fourth-place Predators. Brady Tkachuk’s power-play goal with 1:45 remaining in the third period broke a 2-2 tie for the Senators (33-36-4), who won their fifth in a row and trail the Flyers by 12 points.

Boston Bruins 3, Washington Capitals 2 (SO): Jeremy Swayman made 18 saves, then stopped three attempts in the shootout for the Bruins (43-17-15), who remained two points ahead of the Panthers for first in the Atlantic. Playing his 1,000th NHL game, defenseman John Carlson scored the tying power-play goal at 14:03 of the second period for the Capitals (36-27-10), who have lost their past two games (0-1-1) after winning three in a row. With the point from the shootout loss, Washington moved into third in the Metropolitan, tied with the Flyers having played two fewer games.

San Jose Sharks 4, St. Louis Blues 0: The Blues (39-31-4) remained five points behind the Kings for the second wild card in the West by losing for the second time in their past 10 games (7-2-1). The Sharks (17-48-8), who have been eliminated from playoff contention, ended a nine-game losing streak with Mackenzie Blackwood making 35 saves for his second shutout of the season.

Calgary Flames 4, Los Angeles Kings 2: Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist for the Kings (38-24-11), who fell three points behind the Golden Knights for third in the Pacific. Los Angeles, which has lost back-to-back games following a four-game winning streak, also missed a chance to add to its five-point lead on St. Louis for the second wild card in the West. Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist for the Flames (34-34-5), who ended a five-game losing streak and trail the Kings by 14 points.

Dallas Stars 3, Seattle Kraken 0: Jake Oettinger made 17 saves for his second shutout of the season, and the Stars (47-19-9) maintained their three-point lead on the Avalanche for first in the Western Conference and Central Division. Roope Hintz and Wyatt Johnston each had a goal and an assist for Dallas, which tied its franchise record with its seventh straight win. The Kraken (30-30-13), who had won their previous two games, remained 14 points behind the Kings.

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