Blues clinch playoff spot, Panthers and Lightning to meet in first round, and more NHL action
The Blues clinched a playoff spot with their OT loss to the Golden Knights in a great night of NHL action. In the Central, the Hurricanes locked up first place which gives the state of Florida its first ever playoff matchup between the State’s two teams.
Blues clinch playoff spot
The St. Louis Blues have officially entered their name into the Stanley Cup Playoffs by picking up a point last night. Ryan O’Reilly scored his 24th of the season in the loss, but the Blues played the Knights tough in what is likely going to be the opening round matchup in the West Division.
“That’s great news especially after tonight’s outcome. That wasn’t what we wanted,” O’Reilly said after learning they clinched 4th place. “It’s good we’re in the playoffs. It’s something guys worked hard for. It hasn’t been easy. But, yeah, it’s exciting. We’ve got to keep going, we’ve got to keep tweaking our game. Guys worked hard, and it’s good to see.”
Jonathan Marchessault notched the game-winner with just 18 seconds left in the extra session. Vegas holds first by four points over the Avalanche with just three games left to play. Mikko Rantanen scored his 30th of the season for Colorado in a 3-2 win over the Kings to keep pace with Vegas. The Avs have four games remaining.
Minnesota won last night as well, and remain one point behind Colorado with three games left. Kirill Kaprizov scored his 27th of the year in OT to beat the Ducks 4-3. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 5-2 to close out the divisional action.
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Panthers and Lightning to battle in playoffs for the first time
The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the Dallas Stars by a 5-2 score. In doing so, the Carolina Hurricanes locked up first place in the Central Division and ensured the first ever playoff battle in the State of Florida. The Lightning joined the NHL in 1993 with the Panthers following the next season. For 27 years these two teams have existed in the Eastern Conference and never once crossed paths in the playoffs. That all ends this season.
Dallas’ win keeps them in the hunt for the last spot in the Central. They are two points behind the Nashville Predators with two games left each. The Stars must surpass them in points in order to get as the Preds hold the tie-breaker. Good news for Dallas, they finish with the Blackhawks while Nashville must end the season against the Canes.
In Columbus the Red Wings knocked off the Blue Jackets 5-2. There’s only one more game on the calendar for John Tortorella whose name is heating up a possible coaching candidate for the New York Rangers.
Finally in the East Division, Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 4-2. That will keep the Penguins in first place by two points although the Caps have a game in hand. Pittsburgh closes the season against the Sabres today.