Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Maple Leafs can clinch second in Atlantic

Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Maple Leafs can clinch second in Atlantic

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

Stanley Cup Playoffs clinching scenarios for Saturday

Eastern Conference

The Toronto Maple Leafs will clinch the No. 2 playoff seeds in the Atlantic Division:

If they defeat the Florida Panthers in any fashion (7 pm ET; CBC, SNO, SNW, SNP, BSFL, ESPN +, NHL LIVE) AND the Tampa Bay Lightning lose in regulation to the Nashville Predators (7 pm ET; NHLN, BSUN, BSSO, NHL LIVE).

Western Conference

The Edmonton Oilers (idle) will clinch the No. 2 playoff seeds in the Pacific Division:

If the Anaheim Ducks defeat the Los Angeles Kings in regulation (10:30 pm ET; BSW, K-COP13, ESPN +, NHL LIVE).

On Tap

There are 12 games on the NHL schedule Saturday, nine with playoff implications.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings (12:30 pm ET; NHLN, BSDETX, ATTSN-PT, NHL LIVE)

The Penguins enter Saturday tied in points (99) with the Washington Capitals for third in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins and Capitals have identical records (44-23-11) and each have 35 regulation wins, which is the first tiebreaker. The Penguins lead the second tiebreaker (regulation and overtime wins, 41-39). The Capitals are the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Bruins, the first wild card, also enter Saturday with 99 points, but have played one fewer game. Center Evgeni Malkin will return from a four-game suspension for cross-checking for Pittsburgh, which is 3-5-1 in its past nine games. Penguins forward Jake Guentzel has seven goals in his past four games, including a hat trick against the Bruins on Thursday. The Red Wings, who will play their final home game of the season, have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils (12:30 pm ET; MSG, BSSO, ESPN +, NHL LIVE)

The Hurricanes, who are tied with the New York Rangers atop the Metropolitan Division, will seek their third straight win. Carolina and New York each have 108 points with four games remaining. They play each other Tuesday in New York. Hurricanes center Jordan Staal has scored nine goals in his past seven games after scoring eight in his first 68 games this season. The Devils, who have lost six straight home games (0-5-1), have been eliminated from playoff contention.

New York Rangers at Boston Bruins (3 pm ET; ABC, SN360, ESPN +, NHL LIVE)

The Bruins enter Saturday three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for third in the Atlantic Division. The Rangers, tied with the Hurricanes for first in the Metropolitan, will look for their fifth straight win. Forwards Andrew Copp (lower body) and Filip Chytil (soreness) are unlikely to play after being injured in the Rangers’ 6-3 win against the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Nashville Predators at Tampa Bay Lightning (7 pm ET; NHLN, BSSUN, BSSO, NHL LIVE)

The Predators look to strengthen their hold on the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference and move closer to clinching a postseason berth for the eighth straight season. Nashville leads the Dallas Stars, who hold the second wild card, by two points and the Vegas Golden Knights by four points. The Lightning, who have won three of their past four, trail the Toronto Maple Leafs by six points for second in the Atlantic Division.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers (7 pm ET; CBC, SNO, SNW, SNP, BSFL, ESPN +, NHL LIVE)

The Panthers can set a franchise record with a 13th consecutive victory, breaking their previous record from 2015-16. Florida clinched first in the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference and leads the Colorado Avalanche by two points for first in the NHL. The Maple Leafs’ four-game winning streak ended with an 8-1 loss to the Lightning on Thursday, but they can clinch second in the Atlantic and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs if they defeat the Panthers and the Lightning lose in regulation to the Predators.

Seattle Kraken at Dallas Stars (8 pm ET; BSSW, ROOT-NW, ESPN +, NHL LIVE)

The Stars return home desperate for a win after losing all three games on their road trip. Dallas trails Nashville by two points for the first wild card in the West and clings to a two-point lead on Vegas for the second wild card. The Kraken have been eliminated from playoff contention.

St. Louis Blues at Arizona Coyotes (10 pm ET; BSAZX, BSMW, ESPN +, NHL LIVE)

The Blues can tie the Minnesota Wild for second in the Central Division and extend their franchise-record 14-game point streak (12-0-2) with a win. St. Louis and Minnesota are locked into a first-round playoff series with four regular-season games remaining for each. The team that finishes second in the division will have home-ice advantage in that series. Robert Thomas (15 games, eight goals, 19 assists), Pavel Buchnevich (12 games, eight goals, 14 assists) and Vladimir Tarasenko (eight games, eight goals, 10 assists) will look to extend their point streaks for St. Louis. The Coyotes, who have lost nine in a row (0-8-1), have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames (10 pm ET; CBC, SN, CITY, TVAS2, ESPN +, NHL LIVE)

The Canucks need a win to boost their fading playoff hopes after losing their past two games (0-1-1). Vancouver trails Dallas by four points for the second wild card in the West with four games remaining. The Flames have clinched first in the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference behind the Avalanche.

Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 pm ET; BSW, KCOP-13, ESPN +, NHL LIVE)

The Kings, who will seek their fourth-straight win, are closing in on clinching a playoff berth for the first time since 2017-18. Los Angeles is five points ahead of the Golden Knights for third in the Pacific Division and four points behind the second-place Edmonton Oilers. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has stopped 65 of 68 shots in winning his past three starts, including 29 saves in a 2-1 win against the Ducks on Tuesday. Anaheim, which has been eliminated from playoff contention, has three wins its past 20 games (3-12-5). If the Kings lose in regulation, the Edmonton Oilers will clinch second place in the Pacific Division.

If playoffs started Saturday

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

Eastern Conference

(1A) Florida Panthers (WC2) Washington Capitals

(1M) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (WC1) Boston Bruins

(2A) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (3A) Tampa Bay Lightning

(2M) New York Rangers vs. (3M) Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference

(1C) Colorado Avalanche (WC2) Dallas Stars

(1P) Calgary Flames vs. (WC1) Nashville Predators

(2C) Minnesota Wild vs. (3C) St. Louis Blues

(2P) Edmonton Oilers vs. (3P) Los Angeles Kings

About last night

There were four games Friday, three with playoff implications:

Minnesota Wild 6, Seattle Kraken 3: Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and three assists and Kevin Fiala had five assists to help the Wild move two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for second in the Central Division. Minnesota, which is 7-0-2 in its past nine games, will face St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs. The team that finishes second in the Central will have home-ice-advantage in the series. With 101 points (45 goals, 56 assists) for the season, Kaprizov is the first player in Wild history to reach 100. The Wild (50-21-7) set franchise records with 50 wins and 107 points, surpassing their totals from 2016 -17 when they were 49-25-8 with 106 points. The Kraken, who have been eliminated from playoff contention, had their three-game winning streak ended.

Edmonton Oilers 6, Colorado Avalanche 3: Evander Kane had three goals and an assist, and the Oilers clinched a playoff berth for the third straight season. Connor McDavid had three assists to increase his NHL-leading point total to 116 (43 goals, 73 assists) for Edmonton. The Oilers have won four straight to move four points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for second in the Pacific Division with a game in hand. Valeri Nichushkin scored twice for the Avalanche, who have lost three straight and remained two points behind the Florida Panthers for most points in the NHL (118).

Washington Capitals 2, Arizona Coyotes 0: W Conor Sheary and John Carlson scored goals and Vitek Vanecek made 19 saves for his fourth shutout of the season for the Capitals. Washington improved to 7-1-1 in its past eight games, including 3-1-1 on its five-game road trip, to tie the Pittsburgh Penguins for third in the Metropolitan Division and the Boston Bruins for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Capitals and the Penguins have four regular-season games remaining. The Bruins have five left. The Penguins and Capitals have identical records (44-23-11) and each have 35 regulation wins, which is the first tiebreaker. The Penguins lead the second tiebreaker (regulation and overtime wins, 41-39). The Coyotes, who have lost nine in a row (0-8-1), have been eliminated from playoff contention.

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