Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2019 NHL postseason. There are 23 days left in the regular season and the races in each conference are wide open.
Here is a look at the NHL standings and everything else that could impact the playoff picture.
About last night
All 10 games on the schedule Thursday had playoff implications:
Washington Capitals 5, Philadelphia Flyers 2: The Capitals won for the eighth time in nine games (8-1-0) to remain alone in first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals lead the second-place New York Islanders by two points and the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins by four. The Flyers remained five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
New York Islanders 2, Montreal Canadiens 1: The Islanders remained in second place in the Metropolitan Division when Anders Lee scored the game-winning goal with 2:57 remaining in the third period. The lslanders are two points behind the first-place Capitals and lead the third-place Penguins by two points. The Canadiens remained tied in points (81) with the Blue Jackets for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference but have played one more game.
Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Buffalo Sabres 0: The Penguins extended their lead for third place in the Metropolitan Division to four points on the Carolina Hurricanes, who have two games in hand. Buffalo remained 12 points behind the Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa Senators 2, St. Louis Blues 0: The Blues lost for the third straight time (0-2-1) and fell into the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. They are tied in points (79) with the Dallas Stars, who own the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker 37-35. The Senators have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Red Wings 4: The Lightning, who clinched a playoff berth March 8, moved closer to the Presidents’ Trophy with a comeback win in Detroit. The Lightning, who fell behind 3-0 early in the second period, tied their record for most wins (54) and most road wins (25) in a season, which they set in 2017-18. The Lightning lead the San Jose Sharks by 18 points for the best record in the NHL and have a 19-point lead on the Boston Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Red Wings have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Dallas Stars 4, Minnesota Wild 1: The Stars moved into third place in the Central, but lost goalie Ben Bishop to a lower-body injury during the second period. Bishop, who came into the game with three straight shutouts, left the game with his shutout streak at 230:53. The Wild lost their third straight game and are three points behind the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
Winnipeg Jets 4, Boston Bruins 3: The Jets maintained their one-point lead in the Central Division by handing the Bruins their third straight loss. The Jets lead the Nashville Predators by one point and have two games in hand. Boston, which has lost three straight in regulation for the first time since Dec. 1-6, remained four points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Arizona Coyotes 6, Anaheim Ducks 1: The Coyotes moved three points ahead of the Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with their 10th win in their past 12 games (10-2-0). Vinnie Hinostroza had a had trick for Arizona, which is looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season. The Ducks are 12 points behind the Coyotes for the second wild card in the West.
Nashville Predators 3, Los Angeles Kings 1: The Predators kept pace with the first-place Jets in the Central. Nashville is one point behind Winnipeg but has played two more games. The Predators are six points ahead of the Stars and Blues, who are tied in points for third place in the division. The Kings are 19 points behind the Coyotes for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
Florida Panthers 4, San Jose Sharks 2: The Sharks missed a chance to become the second team to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when their six-game winning streak came to an end. The Sharks lead the Calgary Flames by one point for first place in the Western Conference and Pacific Division. The Panthers are seven points behind the Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
If playoffs started Friday
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Friday:
(1A) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (WC2) Columbus Blue Jackets
(1M) Washington Capitals vs. (WC1) Carolina Hurricanes
(2A) Boston Bruins vs. (3A) Toronto Maple Leafs
(2M) New York Islanders vs. (3M) Pittsburgh Penguins
(1P) San Jose Sharks vs. (WC2) Arizona Coyotes
(1C) Winnipeg Jets vs. (WC1) St. Louis Blues
(2P) Calgary Flames vs. (3P) Vegas Golden Knights
(2C) Nashville Predators vs. (3C) Dallas Stars