NHL Playoff picture after Saturday’s games: Islanders clinch playoff spot




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For the final week of the 2018-19 NHL regular season we will take an updated look at the Stanley Cup Playoff picture — what the standings look like, the potential matchups, who clinched, and set the stage for Sunday’s biggest games. On Saturday, the New York Islanders joined the list of teams to have already clinched a playoff spot with a dominant win over the Buffalo Sabres, while the Dallas Stars missed an opportunity to clinch a spot in the Western Conference with a shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks

Saturday’s playoff clincher
• The New York Islanders are back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season thanks to their 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Saturday’s playoff clinchers
• No new teams clinched a playoff spot in the Western Conference on Saturday. The Dallas Stars, by collecting a point in a shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks, are just one point away.

SATURDAY’S SCORES
Florida Panthers 4, Boston Bruins 1
Carolina Hurricane 5, Philadelphia Flyers 2
Montreal Canadiens 3, Winnipeg Jets 1
Ottawa Senators 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2
Washington Capitals 6, Tampa Bay Lightning 3
St. Louis Blues 3, New Jersey Devils 2 (OT)
New York Islanders 5, Buffalo Sabres 1
Columbus Blue Jackets 5, Nashville Predators 2
San Jose Sharks 4, Vegas Golden Knights 3 (OT)
Anaheim Ducks 5, Edmonton Oilers 1
Vancouver Canucks 3, Dallas Stars 2 (SO)
Los Angeles Kings 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (OT)

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY
Lightning vs. Blue Jackets
Capitals vs. Hurricanes
Islanders vs. Penguins
Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

Flames vs. Avalanche
Jets vs. Stars
Sharks vs. Golden Knights
Predators vs. Blues

SUNDAY’S BIGGEST GAMES

Minnesota Wild vs. Arizona Coyotes (5 p.m. ET). Two teams still in a fight for a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and they both need the two points in this one. The Coyotes enter the day three points behind the Colorado Avalanche, while the Wild are four points back. This game also has meaning for the Dallas Stars, as a Coyotes loss will put the Stars in the playoffs.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (5 p.m. ET). Neither team has clinched a playoff spot yet, but they should both be confident in their chances. This is a huge game for potential playoff seeding, though. The Pittsburgh Penguins enter the day with a two point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for the third place spot in the Metropolitan Division and what would likely be a first-round matchup against the New York Islanders. Whichever team does not get that spot is looking at a Wild Card spot and a first-round matchup against either the Washington Capitals or Tampa Bay Lightning.

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Buffalo Sabres (6 p.m. ET). Depending on what happens in this game and the Pittsburgh-Carolina game the Columbus Blue Jackets could find themselves in the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. That is what would happen with a Hurricanes’ regulation loss and a Blue Jackets win. Even if it does not work out that perfectly for them, these are two points the Blue Jackets absolutely need to get to help secure a playoff spot because the Buffalo Sabres have been one of the league’s worst teams for three months now and are coming off of an absolutely terrible performance on Saturday night against the New York Islanders.

Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). With a win over the Detroit Red Wings the Boston Bruins would take another step toward securing home-ice advantage in the first-round for their opening round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They know they are almost certainly playing each other, they just do not know where it will begin and which team would host a potential Game 7 if it would be required.

Calgary Flames vs. San Jose Sharks (8 p.m. ET). They are pretty much playing for the Pacific Division in this one. A win by the Calgary Flames their first division title since the 2005-06 season and only their second division title since the 1994-95 season. It would also give the Flames the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. A San Jose Sharks win in regulation, on the other hand, pulls them to within four points of the top spot, and while the chances would still be slim, the door would still be slightly open.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.





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