Stanley Cup playoff buzz: Golden Knights can tie for wildcard in West

Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, a daily look at the races in the 2022 NHL Playoffs. There are 24 days left in the regular season and races in each of the four divisions are tight. The top three teams from each of the four divisions and the next top two teams from each conference reach the playoffs.

On tap

There are five games on the NHL schedule on Wednesday, all with playoff implications.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET; TNT, TVAS, NHL LIVE): Tampa Bay has lost two straight and is tied with the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division, three points behind the second-placed Toronto Maple Leafs. The Capitals hold the second wild card in the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Playoffs, nine points behind the Bruins and 11 ahead of the New York Islanders. A Capitals victory will eliminate the Buffalo Sabers from the playoffs and at least one point from Washington would eliminate the Ottawa Senators.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Winnipeg Jets (7:30 p.m. ET: BSDETX, SN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE): The Jets will try to close a seven-point gap between themselves and the Dallas Stars for the second wildcard in the Western Conference. The Red Wings can be eliminated from the competition if they get a point and the Capitals beat the Lightning anyhow, or with a regulation loss to the Jets and Washington gets at least one point.

Seattle Kraken vs. St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET: BSMW, ROOT-NW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE): The Blues are hoping to move within a point of second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central Division. The Kraken were eliminated from the playoffs.

Vancouver Canucks at Vegas Golden Knights (10 p.m. ET: ATTSN-RM, SNP, SN360, ESPN+, NHL LIVE): The Canucks are nine points behind the Stars for second wild card. Vegas, one point behind the Stars, can move to a tie with the Nashville Predators for the West’s first wild card with a win.

Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET: TNT, SN1, SNW, NHL LIVE): The Flames, with a win in their last four games, can extend their lead over the second-placed Edmonton Oilers to six for first place in the Pacific Division. The plummeting Ducks have one regulation win in their last 13 games and are 15 points behind the Stars.

If the playoffs started on Wednesday

Here’s a look at the matchups for the first round as they unfold on Wednesday:

Eastern Conference

(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

Western Conference

(1C) Colorado Avalanche vs. (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 10 games on Tuesday, each with playoff implications:

Colorado Avalanche 6, Pittsburgh Penguins 4: Nathan MacKinnon scored twice to help the Avalanche extend their winning streak to four games, become the first team to 50 wins this season and clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season. The Penguins remain third in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind the New York Rangers.

Florida Panthers 7, Toronto Maple Leafs 6: Jonathan Huberdeau scored five points (two goals, three assists) and had the overtime winner for the Panthers, whose fifth straight win extended their first-place lead over the Maple Leafs to eight points in the Atlantic Division. Toronto edged Boston and Tampa Bay by three points, which are tied for third.

New York Rangers 3, New Jersey Devils 1: Chris KreiderThe 25th power-play goal of the season, a team record, helped the Rangers move within two points of the Carolina Hurricanes, first in the Metropolitan Division. New York is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games. The Devils were eliminated from the playoffs.

Detroit Red Wings 5, Boston Bruins 3: The Bruins fell three points behind the Maple Leafs after the Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made 47 saves. Detroit is 21 points behind the Washington Capitals for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Dallas Stars 3, New York Islanders 2: Radek FaksaThe shorthanded goal was the winner for the Stars, who are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games and moved up to second wild card in the Western Conference with the victory. The Islanders remain 11 points behind the Capitals for the second wildcard in the East.

Edmonton Oilers 2, San Jose Sharks 1 (overtime): Connor McDavidThe 31-second goal after overtime gave the Oilers their fifth straight victory and put them ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division, four points behind the Calgary Flames. The Sharks are 16 points behind the Stars for the West’s second wild card.

Buffalo Sabers 4, Carolina Hurricanes 2: Victor Olofsson broke the 2-2 tie with a goal at 12:08 of the third period for the Sabers, who are 21 points behind the Capitals. The Hurricanes have lost two games in a row and their division lead over Rangers is reduced to two points.

Nashville Predators 6, Minnesota Wild 2: Ryan JohansenThe NHL’s first hat trick helped the Predators qualify for the West’s No. 1 wild card. The second-placed Wild are 9-0-1 in their previous 10 games since losing 6-2 to the Predators on March 13. Minnesota is three points ahead of the third-placed St. Louis Blues in the Central Division.

Ottawa Senators 6, Montreal Canadiens 3: Austin Watson scored twice for the Senators who, like the Sabers, are 21 points behind the Capitals. The Canadians were eliminated from the playoffs.

Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Philadelphia Flyers 2: The Blue Jackets ended a seven-game (0-4-3) skid to move 11 points behind the Capitals. The Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs.

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