Recapping a busy day in the playoff race in today’s collection of notable NHL headlines.
NHL Playoff Race.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Jaromir Jagr had a goal and an assist and Roberto Luongo made 33 saves as the Florida Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 to regain first place in the Atlantic Division. Jagr reached the 25-goal mark for the 18th time in his NHL career, taking over sole possession of second place behind Gordie Howe’s 20 seasons. The Lightning also learned winger Nikita Kucherov, who missed Saturday’s game with an apparent left-foot injury, is listed as day to day.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild moved closer to clinching the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with a 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, opening a five-point cushion over the latter.
PHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers’ playoff hopes suffered a potential blow on Saturday, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Arizona Coyotes. The game saw the captains of both clubs (Arizona’s Shane Doan, Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux) left the game with injuries. No word yet as to how long both could be sidelined.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-2 romp of the Detroit Red Wings, putting the latter’s hope of reaching the playoffs for a 25th consecutive season into jeopardy.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Antti Niemi made 34 saves backstopping the Dallas Stars to a 4-2 win over his former team, the San Jose Sharks. The win also kept the Stars atop the Western Conference standings.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues picked up their fourth straight shutout by blanking the Washington Capitals 4-0.
NEWSDAY: Cal Clutterbuck scored the game-tying and overtime winning goals to lead the New York Islanders to a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
BOSTON HERALD: Zdeno Chara scored the game winner and David Krejci picked up two assists as the Boston Bruins snapped a five-game winless skid with a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Los Angeles Kings ended a three-game losing streak by hanging on to a 6-4 win over the Edmonton Oiler.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks overcame a 3-0 deficit to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on an overtime goal by Rickard Rakell.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The New York Rangers picked up their third straight victory by downing the Montreal Canadiens 5-2.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Andrew Ladd scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks downed the Calgary Flames 4-1.
TSN: Shea Weber and James Neal each had a goal and an assist to lead the Nashville Predators to a 5-1 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the Eastern Conference, the Flyers and Red Wings are tied with 85 points, but the Flyers hold the final wild-card berth on the basis of games played. The Coyotes definitely did Detroit a favor by beating the Flyers last night, but the Wings now have a razor-thin margin of error in their quest for a 25th straight playoff appearance. The Bruins, meanwhile, widened their lead over the Red Wings for third in the Atlantic Division by four points. The Rangers remain four points up on the Penguins for second in the Metropolitan Division, with the Isles a point behind the Pens.
Looking at the Western Conference standings, the most intriguing race is the one between the Wild and Avalanche for that final wild-card spot. The Wild’s victory over the Avs yesterday could be the dagger in the heart of the latter’s season. The Stars and Blues are tied with 99 points but the Stars hold first overall thanks to goal differential and regulation plus overtime wins. The Blackhawks remain two points ahead of the Predators for third in the Central Division. The Ducks widened their lead by four points over the Sharks for second in the Pacific, but remain three back of the Kings.