Earlier this month it was a foregone conclusion that the Carolina Hurricanes would miss the playoffs. They had just suffered a 3-1 loss to the NHL-worst Colorado Avalanche to drop to 26-27-10. The Hurricanes hadn't been a serious contender in the playoff race for a while before that March 7 loss, but at that point it seemed like all hope was lost.
The Hurricanes needed to be nearly perfect going forward to even have a chance, but so far they have been. Carolina has recorded at least a point in each of their last 13 games and have won nine contests in that span after earning a 2-1 overtime victory against Columbus. That's propelled the Hurricanes to a 35-27-14 record.
Even after a 9-0-4 run the Hurricanes are four points behind Boston in the Wild Card race, but they've also played in one less game than the Bruins. The Hurricanes can't afford to slow down now, but at least they have a shot at making the playoffs, which is more than was expected mere weeks ago.
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FLYERS 6 ISLANDERS 3
Calvin de Haan assisted on two of the Islanders' three goals. He has five goals and 23 points in 76 contests in 2016-17.
Sean Couturier scored a goal and registered two assists for the Flyers. He's up to 13 goals and 31 points in 61 games.
Wayne Simmonds also found the back of the net for Philadelphia and added a pair of assists. That gives him 30 goals and 52 points in 77 games.
Steve Mason surrendered three goals on 41 shots. That's his fourth consecutive victory, bringing his record up to 25-21-7 record.
HURRICANES 2 BLUE JACKETS 1 (Overtime)
Noah Hanifin scored the overtime winner. It was his fourth goal and 25th point in 75 contests.
Jeff Skinner scored a goal and registered an assist. He has 32 goals and 57 points in 73 games.
Jack Johnson accounted for the Blue Jackets' goal. He has four goals and 21 points in 76 contests.
Joonas Korpisalo stopped 29 of 31 shots last night. He's lost four of his last five starts.
Cam Ward kicked out 23 of 24 Columbus shots. He's allowed just five goals over his last three starts.
BRUINS 2 STARS 0
Tuukka Rask turned aside all 27 Dallas shots. It was his seventh shutout of the campaign and the 37th of his career.
Tyler Seguin fired a team-high four shots against Rask. He has 25 goals on 282 shots this season.
Antti Niemi kicked out 22 of 24 shots on Thursday. He has a 11-12-4 record, 3.31 GAA, and .892 save percentage in 35 contests.
Brad Marchand netted the game-winning goal and recorded an assist. He's up to 38 goals and 83 points in 77 contests.
Torey Krug scored a power-play marker. He has eight goals and 50 points in 77 games.
CANADIENS 6 PANTHERS 2
Reto Berra surrendered six goals on 33 shots. He has a 0-3-0 record, 3.38 GAA, and .874 save percentage in five contests.
Carey Price turned aside 29 of 31 Panthers shots. He's allowed two or fewer goals in three straight starts.
Brendan Gallagher found the back of the net and registered three assists. He has 10 goals and 28 points in 59 contests this season.
Paul Byron scored a pair of goals, including the game winner. He's up to 22 goals and 40 points in 76 games.
Reilly Smith found the back of the net for the Panthers. It was his 15th goals and 35th point in 75 games.
LIGHTNING 5 RED WINGS 3
Frans Nielsen scored a goal and registered an assist for Detroit. That gives him 15 goals and 36 points in 74 games.
Ondrej Palat assisted on two of the Lightning's five goals. He has 16 goals and 46 points in 69 contests.
Andrej Sustr netted a goal and recorded an assist. The Lightning defenseman has three goals and 12 points in 74 contests.
Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 31 of 34 shots last night. He has a 20-16-6 record, 2.68 GAA, and .915 save percentage in 45 contests.
Petr Mrazek allowed five goals on 31 shots. He's dropped his last three starts, including a pair of contests against Tampa Bay.
MAPLE LEAFS 3 PREDATORS 1
Auston Matthews scored the game-winning goal. It was his 36th marker and 63rd point in 76 games.
Jake Gardiner assisted on two of Toronto's three markers. He has nine goals and 38 points in 76 contests.
Filip Forsberg accounted for the Predators' only goal. It was his 30th goal and 56th point in 77 contests.
Frederik Andersen turned aside 29 of 30 Nashville shots. He has a 31-15-14 record, 2.63 GAA, and .919 save percentage in 62 starts.
Pekka Rinne stopped 14 of 16 shots on Thursday. He only faced one shot in the third frame.
WILD 5 SENATORS 1
Mike Hoffman scored the Senators' only goal. It was his 23rd goal and 56th point in 69 games.
Nino Niederreiter netted a pair of goals, including the game winner. That gives him 22 goals and 52 points in 77 contests.
Charlie Coyle assisted on two of Minnesota's five goals. He has 17 goals and 51 points in 77 games.
Alex Stalock turned aside 18 of 19 shots last night. It was the 29-year-old's first NHL start of the 2016-17 campaign. He's posted a 2.31 GAA and .924 save percentage in 45 AHL games.
Craig Anderson kicked out 21 of 26 Wild shots. He has a 22-11-3 record, 2.38 GAA, and .925 save percentage in 36 starts.
JETS 4 DUCKS 3 (Overtime)
Corey Perry scored twice for the Ducks. He's up to 18 goals and 51 points in 77 contests in 2016-17.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 37 of 41 shots last night. He has a 19-7-4 record, 2.47 GAA, and .918 save percentage in 37 contests.
Dustin Byfuglien scored a goal and registered two assists. The Jets defenseman has 13 goals and 51 points in 76 games.
Nikolaj Ehlers assisted on two of Winnipeg's four goals. That gives him 23 goals and 61 points in 78 games.
Michael Hutchinson stopped 25 of 28 shots in his second straight win. He has a 8-12-3 record, 2.96 GAA, and .902 save percentage in 27 contests.
OILERS 3 SHARKS 2
Martin Jones stopped 19 of 22 shots on Thursday. He's dropped four of his last five starts.
Cam Talbot saved 38 of 40 Sharks shots. He's just one victory shy of becoming the third goaltender to reach the 40-win mark.
Patrick Maroon scored a pair of goals, including the game winner. He has 27 goals and 41 points in 77 contests.
Connor McDavid scored the Oilers' other goal and registered an assist. He has 28 goals and 91 points in 77 games.
Jannik Hansen found the back of the net and recorded an assist. That gives him eight goals and 18 points in 38 contests.