Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily look at the races for the 2022 NHL postseason. There are 24 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.
There are five games on the NHL schedule Wednesday, all with playoff implications.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET; TNT, TVAS, NHL LIVE): Tampa Bay has lost two in a row and is tied with the Boston Bruins for third the Atlantic Division, three points behind the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs. The Capitals hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, nine points behind the Bruins and 11 ahead of the New York Islanders. A Capitals victory will eliminate the Buffalo Sabres from playoff contention and at least one point from Washington would eliminate the Ottawa Senators.
Detroit Red Wings at Winnipeg Jets (7:30 p.m. ET: BSDETX, SN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE): The Jets will attempt to narrow a seven-point gap between them and the Dallas Stars for the second wild card from the Western Conference. The Red Wings can be eliminated from contention if they get one point and Capitals defeat the Lightning in any fashion, or with a regulation loss to the Jets and if Washington gets at least one point.
Seattle Kraken at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET: BSMW, ROOT-NW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE): The Blues hope to move to within one point of the second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central Division. The Kraken have been eliminated from playoff contention.
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 the second wild card. Vegas, which is one point behind the Stars, can move into a tie with the Nashville Predators for the first wild card in the West with a victory.
Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET: TNT, SN1, SNW, NHL LIVE): The Flames, with one win in their past four games, can extend their lead over the second-place Edmonton Oilers to six for first the Pacific Division. The slumping Ducks have one regulation victory in their past 13 games and are 15 points behind the Stars.
If playoffs started Wednesday
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Wednesday:
(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) St. Louis Blues
(2P) Edmonton Oilers vs. (3P) Los Angeles Kings
About last night
There were 10 games 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 winner in overtime for the Panthers, whose fifth consecutive victory extended their first-place lead over the Maple Leafs to eight points in the Atlantic Division. Toronto moved three points ahead of Boston and Tampa Bay, which are tied for third.
New York Rangers 3, New Jersey Devils 1: Chris Kreider‘s team-record 25th power-play goal of the season helped the Rangers get within two points of the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division. New York is 7-2-1 in its past 10. The Devils have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Detroit Red Wings 5, Boston Bruins 3: The Bruins fell three points behind the Maple Leafs after Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made 47 saves. Detroit is 21 points behind the Washington Capitals for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Dallas Stars 3, New York Islanders 2: Radek Faksa‘s shorthanded goal was the winner for the Stars, who are 7-3-0 in their past 10 and moved into the second wild card from the Western Conference with the victory. The Islanders remain 11 points behind the Capitals for the second wild card from the East.
Edmonton Oilers 2, San Jose Sharks 1 (OT): Connor McDavid‘s goal 31 seconds into overtime gave the Oilers their fifth consecutive win and allowed them to leapfrog the Los Angeles Kings for in the Pacific Division, four points behind the Calgary Flames. The Sharks are 16 points behind the Stars for the second wild card from the West.
Buffalo Sabres 4, Carolina Hurricanes 2: Victor Olofsson broke a 2-2 tie with a goal at 12:08 of the third period for the Sabres, who are 21 points behind the Capitals. The Hurricanes have lost two straight and their division lead over the Rangers is down to two points.
Nashville Predators 6, Minnesota Wild 2: Ryan Johansen‘s first NHL hat trick helped the Predators move into the first wild card from the West. The second-place Wild were 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-place St. Louis Blues in the Central Division.
Ottawa Senators 6, Montreal Canadiens 3: Austin Watson scored two goals for the Senators who like the Sabres are 21 points behind the Capitals. The Canadiens have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Philadelphia Flyers 2: The Blue Jackets ended a seven-game skid (0-4-3) to move 11 points behind the Capitals. The Flyers have been eliminated from playoff contention.