Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2022 NHL postseason. There are 29 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.
About last night
There were nine games Thursday, each with playoff implications:
Boston Bruins 8, New Jersey Devils 1: Brad Marchand scored two goals and the Bruins scored six straight goals to move within one point of the Tampa Bay Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Devils were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
Toronto Maple Leafs 7, Winnipeg Jets 1: Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 50th goal of the season for the Maple Leafs, who moved one point ahead of the Lightning for second in the Atlantic and remained seven points behind the first-place Florida Panthers. The Jets fell three points behind the Dallas Stars for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.
Florida Panthers 4, Chicago Blackhawks 0: Sergei Bobrovsky made 37 saves for his third shutout of the season and Jonathan Huberdeau got his 71st assist of the season, an NHL record for a left wing. Florida remained seven points ahead of Toronto for first in the Atlantic. The Blackhawks are 21 points behind the Stars for the second wild card.
New York Islanders 5, Columbus Blue Jackets 2: Sebastian Aho and Oliver Wahlstrom graded 11 seconds apart and Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves for the Islanders, who are 15 points behind the Washington Capitals for the second wild card from the East. The Blue Jackets are also 15 points behind the Capitals.
Carolina Hurricanes 4, Montreal Canadiens 0: Andrei Svechnikov scored two goals and Frederik Andersen made 32 saves for the Hurricanes, who moved five points ahead of the New York Rangers for first in the Metropolitan. The Canadiens have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Minnesota Wild 3 (OT): Rickard Rakell scored two goals for the Penguins, who moved within one point of the second-place Rangers. The Wild, whose seven-game winning streak ended, are second in the Central, four points ahead of the third-place St. Louis Blues.
Colorado Avalanche 4, San Jose Sharks 2: Nazem Kadri and Eric Johnson each had two assists for the Avalanche, who are 7-1-1 in their past nine games and lead the Central by 15 points over the Wild. The Sharks are 13 points behind the Stars for the second wild card from the West.
Los Angeles Kings 3, Calgary Flames 2 (SO): Cal Petersen made 26 saves for the Kings, who moved within five points of the first-place Flames in the Pacific. The Kings are three points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers.
Dallas Stars 3, Anaheim Ducks 2 (OT): Jamie Benn scored 53 seconds into overtime for the Stars, who moved one point ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights for the second wild card in the West. The Ducks fell 13 points behind the Stars for the second wild card.
If playoffs started Friday
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Friday:
(1A) Florida Panthers vs. (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
(1C) Colorado Avalanche vs. (WC2) Dallas Stars
(1P) Calgary Flames vs. (WC1) Nashville Predators
(2C) Minnesota Wild vs. (3C) Louis Blues
(2P) Los Angeles Kings vs. (3P) Edmonton Oilers