The Winnipeg Jets could have greatly helped the Pittsburgh Penguins playoff chances and seeding this week. Thursday, they led the New York Islanders in the third period but lost. Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens also beat the powerful Winnipeg Jets and kept the Penguins magic number at four.
Washington, New York, Carolina, and Montreal all won on Saturday night which effectively puts the Metro Division out of reach and makes the Sunday night battle between Carolina and the Penguins even more important. It will be a battle for third place and a playoff date with the New York Islanders instead of Washington or…Tampa Bay.
The Penguins could get Evgeni Malkin back for the playoffs. Malkin spoke with the media after participating in Penguins practice in a non-contact jersey. Malkin felt the cross-check which injured him “was dirty.” Malkin didn’t mince words. Pittsburgh Hockey Now has the locker room chat and more information (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
Montreal beat Winnipeg 3-1, but was disappointed to learn they didn’t gain any ground in their quest to make the playoffs (Montreal Gazette)
Montreal didn’t gain ground because the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus also won. Carolina put the final dagger in the Philadephia Flyers and also set themselves up for the battle with the Penguins. Carolina beat Philly 5-2 (WRAL)
The Flyers were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Try not to shed a tear. If you prefer to dance upon the end of the Flyers chances, NBC Sports has the details on the ignominious end to the Philadelphia season. Frustrated Flyers Miss Playoffs (NBC Sports)
The New York Islanders clinched a playoff berth Saturday. They beat the hapless Buffalo Sabres 5-1 to put cap a remarkable season. Who expected the Islanders in the playoffs after John Tavares bolted for Toronto? (Newsday)
The Islanders win put them four points ahead of the Penguins for second place. The Penguins do have a game in hand.
And for good measure, the Washington Capitals avoided another loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Washington won 6-3. Tom Wilson KO’d Erik Cernak with a right hand (RMB)
Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal (Yahoo)
The Columbus Blue Jackets maintained their playoff position with a win over a quality opponent. CBJ beat Nashville (1st Ohio Battery)
To recap, every team in competition with the Penguins in the Metro and the Montreal Canadiens won. The Penguins showdown Sunday afternoon with Carolina will be for third place. The loser of that battle over the final four games will make the playoffs as a wild-card and could draw the Tampa Bay Lightning