8:48pm: The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3, clinching a playoff spot for the first time since 2013. Despite losing goaltender Frederik Andersen, the Leafs rallied for three goals in the third to punch their ticket to the playoffs. TSN’s Bob McKenzie sums up the seedings with tomorrow’s results. If Toronto gets one point tomorrow, they will take on Ottawa in the first round while Boston faces off against Washington. Should they lose, they draw Washington and the Bruins get Ottawa.
2:54 pm: Today is the second last day of the regular season, and as such, there’s a lot going on around the National Hockey League. The entire playoff bracket can be finalized this evening, stars will be healthy scratched, and milestones hit.
- Two Eastern Conference matchups have already been set: Canadiens vs Rangers and Penguins vs Blue Jackets. Another could be set tonight, if Toronto, Ottawa, and Boston all win. That would mean Capitals vs Maple Leafs. Should the Maple Leafs lose while the other two win, then that would guarantee Senators vs Bruins.
- Wild vs Blues is clinched by a St. Louis win or a Nashville loss.
- Oilers vs Sharks would be clinched by:
- An Oilers extra-time loss vs the Canucks tonight, OR
- An Oilers regulation loss and a Sharks loss in any fashion.
- Blackhawks vs Predators happens if:
- The Predators lose in regulation, OR
- The Flames win and the Blues get a single point, OR
- The Flames and Predators both lose in OT.
- The Flames would take on the Ducks if:
- The Oilers lose, the Blues get a point, and the Flames win, OR
- The Oilers lose, and both the Flames and Predators lose in OT, OR
- The Oilers lose, and the Predators lose in regulation.
- The Flames would take on the Blackhawks if Calgary loses and the Predators win.
- The Ducks would take on the Predators if:
- Both Edmonton and Calgary lose, and the Predators win, OR
- Nashville gets a point, while Edmonton loses and Calgary loses in regulation.
Other clinching scenarios:
- The Oilers clinch home-ice with a single point. They visit Vancouver tonight, and host them tomorrow.
- The Ducks clinch the Pacific Division with an Oilers loss of any kind.
- To pass Anaheim and win the Pacific, the Oilers would need to sweep the Canucks this weekend and have Anaheim lose to Los Angeles tomorrow.
- Should the Toronto Maple Leafs win tonight against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto will clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2013. That would eliminate the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning.
- The Islanders could also be eliminated with a regulation loss or any kind of loss if the Maple Leafs get a single point.
- UPDATE: Ottawa clinched home ice by defeating the Rangers, 3-1.
- They defeat the Rangers today, OR
- Boston and Toronto lose in regulation, OR
- The Bruins and Senators each get a single point combined with a Maple Leafs OT loss.
- The Penguins are resting a handful of players, but not their captain. Regulars Nick Bonino, Brian Dumoulin, Patric Hornqvist, Matt Murray, and Bryan Rust will all be healthy scratches, however Sidney Crosby will dress. Forward Kevin Porter and goaltender Tristan Jarry have been called up to fill out the lineup; Jarry will back up Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins coach, Mike Sullivan, told TSN that he’s aware of what’s on the line for the Maple Leafs, but re-iterated that his priority is to do what’s best for the team “in the short-term and the long-term. Having said that the lineup we put in will be competitive.”
- The Canucks will be without the services of Sven Baertschi for this weekend’s home-and-home with the Oilers. Postmedia’s Ben Kuzma reports that Baertschi may have hurt his shoulder or neck on Thursday vs the Coyotes.
- The Senators will be resting several players. Their lineup isn’t known yet, but Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch suggested Craig Anderson, Mike Hoffman, Dion Phaneuf, Kyle Turris, and Viktor Stalberg as possibilities.
- Oilers captain Connor McDavid could become just the fifth player to score 100 points since 2010. He’s sitting at 97 points in 80 games, the seventh-most points in a season during in that time frame. Only Evgeni Malkin, Daniel Sedin, Crosby, and Patrick Kane have cracked the century-mark this decade. McDavid is nine points ahead of Crosby and Kane for the NHL scoring lead, and looks poised to take home the Art Ross in his first full season at age 20.
- With one more goal this season, Auston Matthews can become the fifteenth rookie in NHL history to score 40 goals. Currently, he’s tied with Crosby, Steve Yzerman, and Peter and Anton Stastny at 39. Kings’ coach Darryl Sutter, Sylvain Turgeon, and Warren Young all scored 40 goals in their rookie seasons.