Clinching galore on Tuesday … well, unless you’re the Colorado Avalanche. Then maybe your golfing plans are clinched.
We have almost an overwhelming pile of stories to wade through, so let’s roll up our sleeves and recap our way out of the danger zone. And stuff.
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ISLANDERS 4, CAPITALS 3 (OT)
-- The Islanders were down 3-1 about seven minutes into the third period, yet they rallied back to win in overtime, making things simple as far as clinching their playoff spot goes.
Honestly, the Islanders are kind of a tough team to gauge. If they end up facing the Panthers as they would be now - definitely not set in stone with the Isles having a solid chance of jumping into the Metro top three - would Florida really be the favorite? Difficult to say.
The Isles have won five of six, with a big chunk of those victories coming beyond regulation.
-- John Tavares has been the catalyst for their success, as he often is. With a goal and two assists, he enjoyed his second consecutive three-point output. Tavares also has eight points in his last four games (6G, 2A).
Maybe his season's been a touch disappointing by his impeccable standards, but he's clearly still among the cream of the crop.
-- Thomas Hickey generated a goal and an assist, including the OT-GWG. Oddly enough, three of his four career GWGs have come in overtime. With six goals this season, he almost has as many tallies as he generated in his three previous seasons combined (seven from 2012-13 through 2014-15).
Ovechkin's two tallies give him 47 goals, so he can hit 50 if he averages a goal per night down the stretch. That's assuming Washington doesn't decide to rest him, of course.
-- Speaking of closing out this stretch, Braden Holtby stays at 47 wins, one shy of tying Martin Brodeur for the single-season wins record. With three games remaining for Washington, Holtby faces a challenge in trying to take that mark.
It won't be easy with three remaining opponents Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Anaheim, either.
PREDATORS 4, AVALANCHE 3
-- As I alluded to in the opening, the Avalanche saw their dim playoff hopes get stomped out entirely by losing to Nashville here.
I'm guessing that masochistic Avalanche fans will watch Filip Forsberg's incredible 2-0 goal (his 32nd of the season) in a loop with their eyes open Clockwork Orange-style after this loss.
(Don't do that.)
Seriously though, that Forsberg goal was sick.
The Avalanche drove Ryan O'Reilly away and have made some other puzzling team-building decisions. Are they really willing to estrange Duchene?
How much longer will Roy's luck-laced playoff run from 2013-14 manage to prop up this witless regime? Going back further, this franchise only holds two playoff visits in the last eight season and one in the last six. Yikes.
-- If nothing else, Mikkel Boedker's making a solid argument for some team to spend too much money on him, at least if you only judge his work based on his Colorado production. In 16 games with the Avalanche, he has 12 points.
-- Tyson Barrie grabbed an assist, yet it's been a relatively quiet finish. He has two assists in the past seven games.
SHARKS 3, WILD 0
-- Minnesota didn't win this game, yet Nashville defeating Colorado punches the Wild's ticket to the playoffs. Despite this loss, the Wild have been pretty hot lately, so they won't be the easiest draw for the West's top seed.
-- Speaking of tough draws, the Sharks are that much scarier with James Reimer in net.
He's now on a three-game winning streak, and Reimer already has three shutouts in just eight appearances with the Sharks. A quality goalie like Reimer with contract year motivation on a good team like San Jose? That's a pretty scary proposition for the team that draws them (which, right now, looks to be the loser of the battle for the Pacific Division title between the Kings and Ducks).
-- Patrick Marleau might not even want to be there, but he's still sort of just plugging away as usual. He scored two goals for the Sharks on Tuesday, giving him 24 goals on the season. His 46 points are well off of last season's pace of 57 (which was kind of a letdown at the time in itself), yet 24 goals is his second-best total since 2012-13.
-- Logan Couture scored a goal and an assist to give him six points in his last four games (five of those points coming as goals). A healthy and focused Couture is another scary element backing the Sharks.
PANTHERS 4, CANADIENS 1
-- The Panthers clinched their second division title (first called "Atlantic," since their flukey 2011-12 drive netted them the lousy Southeast) of all-time and their first-ever 100-point season with this win.
It's interesting that the Habs generated a considerable SOG advantage (33-19), which Florida leaning on special teams (2-for-5 on PP vs. 1-for-6 for Montreal) in this win.
-- If you don't giggle at the name "Greg McKegg" then you're a better person than me.
Teddy Purcell also had a nice night, collecting two apples.
-- Roberto Luongo won his fourth game in five tries, pushing his season total to 34 victories. This marks his best win total since he generated 38 in 2010-11.
-- Alex Galchenyuk scored his 28th goal of 2015-16, putting him within reach of 30 for the first time in his young career.
RANGERS 3, LIGHTNING 2
-- It's a good thing that the Bolts saw their playoff berth clinched, because otherwise, Tuesday was a pretty rotten day.
For one thing, they failed to hold off the Rangers despite developing an early 2-0 lead.
This despite generating a ton of chances considering how wounded this group is. Ryan Callahan and Victor Hedman are both day-to-day with half-of-the-torso injuries and didn't play on Tuesday. The Lightning were lucky to avoid other ailments suffered in this game, as it seems they left with mere flesh wounds.
So, yeah, good thing they're in the playoffs already.
-- Speaking of injuries, Dan Girardi took a scary fall, so make sure to monitor his situation.
Mats Zuccarello grabbed two assists.
-- Henrik Lundqvist played extremely well, especially when the Rangers were in peril of digging themselves a deeper hole than that 2-0 margin.
HURRICANES 2, BRUINS 1 (SO)
-- Carolina beating Boston via the shootout didn't eliminate the Bruins, but it did punch the Lightning's ticket in the playoffs. That charity point is important for Boston, even if the B's remain outside of the playoff picture thanks to Detroit's tiebreaker edge.
-- The Bruins' effort level was fine, as they generated a 36-28 SOG advantage (while the Hurricanes blocked 20 shots to Boston's six).
-- Cam Ward's endured an ... uneven contract year, but this was a stellar performance, stopping 35 out of 36 shots. Stay away, smart GMs.
-- Loui Eriksson eyes 30 goals with his 29th of the season. The Bruins probably regret being trigger-shy with Loui during the trade deadline (or at least they might in a week), even as well as he's played.
PENGUINS 5, SENATORS 3
-- Pittsburgh was down 3-0, yet the Penguins roared back to win 5-3 thanks to five unanswered goals.
-- You can point out a handful of guys who really made the difference for Pitt.
Sidney Crosby scored two goals, as did Carl Hagelin. Nick Bonino enjoyed an excellent game with three helpers. Bonino now has four assists in two games, seven points in four and 12 points in his past seven contests.
Patric Hornqvist also chipped in a goal and an assist.
-- Erik Karlsson joined the small list of defensemen who've managed 80 points in a season. He did so on his 16th goal of the season, which marks the 100th goal of his already-impressive career.
Hearing Norris debates revolving around Karlsson is pretty tedious at this point, so I'm glad I can just sit back and enjoy how fantastic he is without straining to argue for or against the guy.
Can't we just enjoy this good thing? No? Fine then, Hockey Twitter.
SABRES 3, DEVILS 1
-- Even Chad Johnson seemed bored with this whole game, even if he was able to get a win despite only making 18 saves. The two teams didn't even hit The Yawn Threshold of 40 SOG, falling to 37. That low SOG total comes despite the two teams receiving 10 power-play opportunities combined.
Barf. Yawn. Yawn-barf.
-- Patrik Elias returned to action for the first time since Dec. 19, so that's cool.
BLACKHAWKS 6, COYOTES 2
-- Artemi Panarin grabbed three assists to push his season total to a ridiculous 75 points, producing a new rookie point producing record for the Blackhawks.
/waits for people to get weird about Patrick Kane's obvious influence on Panarin's stats.
Panarin's been particularly explosive lately. He has a whopping 11 points (3G, 8A) during a blazing three-game multi-point streak. Yowza.
-- With a goal and an assist early on, it seemed like Jonathan Toews might steal the thunder on Tuesday, but then Kane was all "Nah, giving me that thunder back bud."
-- The Hawks seem pretty confident that Corey Crawford will be ready for the playoffs, for whatever that's worth.
KINGS 5, FLAMES 4 (OT)
-- Jeff Carter continues to heat up. He scored the decisive goal in overtime, giving him six points during a four-game streak, which four goals. He now has 24 goals and 61 points in 75 GP.
-- Kris Versteeg scored a goal on Tuesday, breaking a four-game pointless streak. He's been hot-and-cold (maybe at best) since joining the Kings.
-- Milan Lucic scored two goals, giving him 19 tallies and 53 points on the season. That's a nice bump from 44 points in 2014-15, but certainly not the best work of his career.
Still, one more goal and he'll enjoy the fourth 20+ goal season of his career.
-- Johnny Gaudreau collected two assists to give him 77 points in as many games this season. Impressive work from a guy who's hopefully erased any remaining doubts this season.
JETS 2, DUCKS 1 (OT)
-- Blake Wheeler made like Jeff Carter, scoring his 24th goal of the season in overtime. Granted, Wheeler's goal is largely irrelevant to the Jets while Carter's goal is quite important for the Kings, so the comparison doesn't hold up under a ton of scrutiny ...
-- This has NOT been a great season for Michael Hutchinson, but I wonder if he deserves more of a chance as a backup (whether it be in Winnipeg or somewhere else) next season. The Jets were very quick to lean on Connor Hellebuyck during a chunk of the season, possibly eroding Hutch's confidence.
Not really saying he's great, just that he could conceivably be a passable backup. High praise, I know.
-- Corey Perry scored his 33rd goal of the season on Ryan Getzlaf's 50th assist of 2015-16. He has as many goals and a few more points (58 versus 55) than last season, although he was limited to 67 GP in 2014-15. Ultimately, at 30, it might be time to adjust expectations for Perry.