The NHL has a jammed-packed day lined up Saturday with 14 games, but that naturally meant that the schedule needed to be light Friday. There were only three games, but they did contribute to the playoff picture.
Vancouver is officially no longer in it for starters while New Jersey's got a little closer to joining them. The Islanders aren't in major trouble yet if the bar is set at simply making the playoffs, but by losing to Tampa Bay on Friday, they've certainly made Saturday's contest against Carolina far more important. At the same time, Tampa Bay's win puts the Lightning in a tie with the Panthers points wise (Tampa Bay has control of the tiebreaker) going into Saturday's game between the two Atlantic Division leaders.
CAPITALS 1 DEVILS 0 (OT)
What an amazing start to New Jersey goalie Scott Wedgewood's career. He took his first loss Friday night, but Wedgewood has now turned aside 93 of the 95 shots he's faced over three starts.
It was John Carlson that ended Wedgewood's bid for a second consecutive shutout. The Capitals defenseman was appearing in his first game in roughly a month after recovering from a lower-body injury.
Washington goalie Braden Holtby turned aside 22 shots to earn his third shutout of the season. He's now won 45 games, which puts him just three shy of the record set by Martin Brodeur in 2006-07. Washington has nine games left.
With the consolation point, the Devils now have 80 points in 75 games. That puts them five points behind Philadelphia and Detroit in the Wild Card race and as things stand, the Devils would need to surpass both of them to make the playoffs. Philadelphia has played in two less games than New Jersey though and Detroit has participated in one fewer contest, so the Devils' situation is dire.
LIGHTNING 7 ISLANDERS 4
This one was pretty tight for most of the contest, but the Lightning pulled away in the second half of the third period with three unanswered goals. Tyler Johnson got that rally started, earning his seventh game-winning goal of 2015-16 as a result. He has 13 goals and 36 points in 61 contests this season.
Steven Stamkos netted his 35th goal of the campaign. He's already reached the 40-goal milestone on four separate occasions in his NHL career.
Islanders forward Brock Nelson found the back of the net for the 25th time this season. He's comfortably surpassed his previous career-high in goals (20 in 2014-15), but with just 12 assists he's still trailing his 42-point showing last season.
Tampa Bay defenseman Jason Garrison scored a goal and registered two assists. He reached or surpassed the 30-point mark in three straight campaigns, not including the 2013 lockout shortened season, but he won't even come close to that milestone this time around. Even after his showing Friday night, he still has just 10 points in 64 games.
With this loss, the Islanders missed an opportunity to stay ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the battle for the third seed in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders are instead in the first Wild Card spot, though there's no guarantee that they'll make the playoffs at all unless they bounce back from their current 2-4-2 slump.
BLUES 4 CANUCKS 0
This was Brian Elliott's third consecutive shutout which is unquestionably fantastic, though he only needed to make 15 saves Friday night. Vancouver managed just two shots on goal in the third frame.
By contrast Jacob Markstrom had a busy night, turning aside 33 of 37 shots. He's now dropped four straight, but that's at least partially a reflection of how Vancouver has played in front of him. On Tuesday he stopped 47 of 48 shots and that still wasn't good enough for the Canucks.
Joel Edmundson netted his first career goal. The 22-year-old defenseman was playing in his 60th game of the season. He also has eight assists and 55 penalty minutes.
Paul Stastny registered two assists, making this his fourth multi-point showing in the span of six games. He has nine goals and 41 points in 57 contests this season.
With this outcome, the St. Louis Blues have earned a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season. Meanwhile Vancouver will miss the postseason for the second time in three years.