Thursday Night Hockey

Thursday night was a huge night in the NHL season, we saw divisional titles secured, Stanley Cup Playoff spots clinched and the longest active playoff drought in the NHL come to an end.

Not only did we see 12 games and 59 goals, we saw the Washington Capitals clinch the Metropolitan Division, whilst helping out the Carolina Hurricanes, who have made it to the playoffs for the first time in exactly 10 years, by beating the Montreal Canadiens.

Lastly we saw the completion of the Stanley Cup teams from the Western Conference. The Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, St Louis Blues and Dallas Stars had already secured their places in the playoffs. So with only one spot left heading into the night, the Colorado Avalanche had everything to play for, and everything to lose. They did it, with an hard fought comeback victory they sealed the last western Stanley Cup Playoff spot.

 

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New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes

1-3

The Carolina Hurricanes clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth with a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at an atmospheric PNC Arena. They return to the postseason for the first time since 2009, ending the longest drought in the NHL (10yrs exactly).

Warren Foegele, Justin Faulk and Nino Niederreiter scored, and Petr Mrazek made 35 saves for the Canes, who lead the Columbus Blue Jackets by three points for the first eastern wild card. Columbus have two games remaining, whilst Carolina and the Canadiens have one. 

Captain Justin Williams played his 428th game for the Hurricanes, who trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by two points for third place in the Metro, that’s one more than he played for the L.A. Kings. He also played for the Philadelphia Flyers (226 games) and Washington Capitals (162 games).

Nine players recorded a point for Carolina, who have struggled with the power play for the majority of the season, but are 5-for-7 in their last four games.

Andy Greene scored for New Jersey, who have been eliminated from playoff contention. Corey Schneider made 23 saves in his last start of the season. Mackenzie Blackwood will play for the Devils in their season finale at the Florida Panthers on Saturday. 

Devils forward Pavel Zacha and defenseman Connor Carrick each played their 200th NHL game.

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Up Next:

Devils v Panthers – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

Canes v Flyers – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

 

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Ottawa Senators v Buffalo Sabres

2-5

The Buffalo Sabres ended their eight-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.

Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists, Jason Pominville scored his 217th goal (passing Don Luce for 10th in franchise history), Victor Olofsson, Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart also scored, and Carter Hutton made 21 saves for Buffalo, who won in regulation for the first time since February 23. 

Eichel became the first Sabres player since Pominville and Derek Roy in 2007/08 to reach 80 points in a season. 

Anthony Duclair and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored, and 22-year-old Joey Daccord made 35 saves in his NHL debut for Ottawa, who allowed two power-play goals for the first time since March 20.

Daccord was the No. 199 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

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Up Next:

Blue Jackets v Senators – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

Sabres v Red Wings – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

 

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs

3-1

The Tampa Bay Lightning became just the second team in the history of the NHL to win 61 games in a season, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1.

The Bolts are one win from matching the 1995/96 Detroit Red Wings for the most wins in NHL history. Their last regular season game is at the Boston Bruins on Saturday. 

Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov also scored, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the visitors. 

Kucherov‘s goal, an emptynetter was his 40th of the season. The forward is one point from tying Alexander Mogilny for the most points by a Russia-born player in an NHL season. Mogilny had 127 in 1992/93 for the Buffalo Sabres.

Mitch Marner scored, and Frederik Andersen made 26 saves for the Leafs, who will finish third in the Atlantic Division, behind the Lightning and Bruins.

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Up Next:

Lightning v Bruins – Saturday, April 6 (1pm)

Leafs v Canadiens – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

 

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New York Islanders v Florida Panthers

2-1 (SO)

The New York Islanders held on to second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Florida Panthers.

They hold a two-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins, who also won, and need a point at the Washington Capitals on Saturday or a Pens loss to the NY Rangers to clinch second place and home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference First Round. Washington clinched the division with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Brock Nelson scored in regulation and had the only goal in the shootout, and Thomas Greiss made 29 saves for the Isles, who have won five of seven and are 5-5 in shootouts this season, whilst Florida are 3-7.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored for the Panthers, it was his 90th point of the season. He has 25pts (11g, 14a) in his last 15 games. Sam Montembeault made 35 saves in regulation and two in the shootout. The goalie also recorded his first NHL point with an assist the goal.

Aleksander Barkov and Huberdeau are the first Panthers teammates with at least 90 points in the same season.

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SHOOTOUT

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Up Next:

Islanders v Capitals – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

Devils v Panthers – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

 

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Detroit Red Wings v Pittsburgh Penguins

1-4

The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 13th straight season with a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.

Pittsburgh, who’s playoff streak is the longest active in the NHL and their history, lead the Hurricanes by two points for third place in the Metro. They trail the New York Islanders by two for second place.

Phil Kessel had two goals and an assist, Sid Crosby had a goal and two assists, Jake Guentzel also scored, and Matt Murray made 33 saves for the Pens, who split a home-and-home with Detroit and are 11-4-2 in their last 17 games. 

Evgeni Malkin had an assist in 18:50 of ice time upon his return from missing eight games with an upper-body injury. Kris Letang also retuned after missing four with a similar issue, he had five shots and was +1 in 25:52 of ice time.

Pittsburgh’s Matt Cullen played his 1,515th NHL game, passing Steve Yzerman for 19th in NHL history, whilst Murray made his NHL career-high 10th straight start and has started 19 of the Pens’ last 20 games.

Matt Puempel scored, and Jimmy Howard made 43 saves for the Red Wings, who had their season-long six-game win streak end.

Howard played his 515th NHL game, passing Frank Brimsek for seventh amongst U.S.-born goalies, while defenseman Madison Bowey played his 100th NHL game.

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Up Next:

Sabres v Red Wings – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

Rangers v Penguins – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

 

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Montreal Canadiens v Washington Capitals

1-2

The Washington Capitals clinched their fourth consecutive Metropolitan Division title with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Lars Eller and Nic Dowd scored, and Braden Holtby made 33 saves for Washington, who lead the NY Islanders by three points. Both have one game remaining.

Eller, who played six seasons with the Canadiens, has four goals in three games against his former team this season.

The Capitals are 16-5-1 in their last 22 and avoided their first consecutive losses in regulation since mid-January.

Shea Weber scored and Carey Price made 29 saves for the Montreal Canadiens, who are three points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the first wild card. Their defeat allowed Carolina to clinch a playoff berth with a 3-1 victory over the NJ Devils.

Weber (203g) tied Gary Suter for 20th in NHL history among defenseman.

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Up Next:

Leafs v Canadiens – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

Islanders v Capitals – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

 

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Philadelphia Flyers v St Louis Blues

3-7

The St Louis Blues moved into a tie for second place in the Central Division with a 7-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Blues and the Winnipeg Jets are a point behind the Nashville Predators, who defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. The Jets, who lost by the same score in overtime to the Colorado Avalanche, hold the tiebreaker with two more regulation/overtime wins than St Louis. All three teams have one game remaining. 

Jordan Binnington made 26 saves for the Blues, who set a new franchise record for the fastest five goals to start a game (9:41), set the club rookie record with his 23rd win, passing Jake Allen, who won 22 in 2014/15. 

Alexander Steen scored twice, Ryan O’Reilly, Ivan Barbashev, Pat Maroon, David Perron and Brayden Schenn also scored, and Alex Pietrangelo recorded three assists for the hosts.

James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist, Oskar Lindblom and Claude Giroux also scored, and Brian Elliott, who allowed four goals on five shots, was replaced by Carter Hart, who made 27 saves for Philly, who have lost four in succession.

It’s the first time since March 15, 1997, against Buffalo Sabres, that the Flyers have allowed five goals in the first period. It was also the third time in NHL history two teams combined for at least six goals in the opening 7:24 and the fourth time two teams scored at least seven in the opening 9:41.

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Up Next:

Canes v Flyers – Saturday, April 6 (7pm)

Canucks v Blues – Saturday, April 6 (4pm)

 

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Vancouver Canucks v Nashville Predators

2-3

The Nashville Predators took control of first place in the Central Division with a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

Colton Sissons, Nick Bonino and Ryan Johansen scored, whilst Pekka Rinne made 30 saves for the hosts, who are a point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets and St Louis Blues, who are tied for second. All three teams have one game remaining. Rinne is 10-4-1 in his last 15 starts. 

Vancouver took a two goal lead in the first period with Markus Granlund and Tanner Pearson scoring. Quinn Hughes had the primary assist on both goals, taking his tally to three in his first four NHL games. 

Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves for the already eliminated Canucks. 

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Up Next:

Canucks v Blues – Saturday, April 6 (4pm)

Blackhawks v Predators – Saturday, April 6 (8pm)

 

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Boston Bruins v Minnesota Wild

3-0

Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves for the Boston Bruins, helping them to a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. It was his fifth shutout this season and 47th in the NHL.

Zach Sensyshyn scored in his NHL debut for Boston, who have won two in succession and will finish second in the Atlantic Division, with home-ice advantage against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Joakim Nordstrom and David Pastrnak also scored for the visitors.

The 10 shutouts against them this season are tied for second-most in Minnesota history. Their record is 14, which occurred during their inaugural season in 2000/2001.

Alex Stalock made 32 saves for the hosts.

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Up Next:

Bruins v Lightning – Saturday, April 6 (1pm)

Wild v Stars – Saturday, April 6 (8pm)

 

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Winnipeg Jets v Colorado Avalanche

2-3 (OT)

The Colorado Avalanche clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth with a 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Needing just a point to advance, the Avalanche killed off a penalty for too many men in the final 1:26 of regulation and held on to send the game to overtime.

Erik Johnson won it at 1:49 for the Avs, who advanced to the playoffs for the second consecutive season. They are one point behind the Dallas Stars for the first wild card from the Western Conference.

Tyson Barrie and Carl Soderberg scored in regulation, and Philipp Grubauer made 34 saves for the hosts, who trailed 2-0 for the third straight game.

Barrie has 59 points (14g, 45a), the most by an Avalanche defenseman since Ray Bourque had 59 in 2000/01. Sandis Ozolinsh is the only defenseman in franchise history to reach 60+ points (68 in 1996/97).

Grubauer is 7-0-2 in his last nine starts and Colorado have won their final six home games and went 11-2-1 in the final 14.

Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers scored, and Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves for the Jets, who have lost five of their last six, and fell into a tie with the St Louis Blues for second place in the Central Division, a point behind Nashville, with all three having a single game remaining.

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Up Next:

Jets v Coyotes – Saturday, April 6 (10pm)

Avalanche v Sharks – Saturday, April 6 (10:30pm)

 

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San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers

3-2

Brent Burns had a goal and assist for the San Jose Sharks to help lift them to a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Burns, who turned 34 in March, is the sixth player in NHL history to reach 80pts in a season for the first time at age 34 or older.

Marcus Sorensen and Gustav Nyquist also scored, and Aaron Dell made 26 saves for San Jose, who will finish second in the Pacific Division and play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It was just the Sharks’ second win in their last 11 games.

Leon Draisaitl scored twice for Edmonton, who have lost five in a row. Anthony Stolarz made 24 saves. 

Connor McDavid had an assist on the second goal for his 116th point (41g, 75a), the most by an Oilers player since Mark Messier had 129 in 1989/90.

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Up Next:

Avalanche v Sharks – Saturday, April 6 (10:30pm)

Flames v Oilers – Saturday, April 6 (10pm)

 

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Arizona Coyotes v  Vegas Golden Knights

4-1

The Arizona Coyotes were eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention, despite beating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1.

They were discounted when the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in overtime.

Derek Stepan scored twice, Richard Panik and Conor Garland also scored, and Darcy Kuemper made 37 saves for the Coyotes, who haven’t made the playoffs since reaching the Western Conference Final in 2011/12. 

In their two meetings this season the visitors have outscored Vegas 9-3, whilst Stepan, who had his third multi-goal game of the season, has 10pts (5g, 5a) in nine games against the Knights.

Clayton Keller had an assist for his first point in eight games, whilst forward Lawson Crouse had two assists, to give him three in two games for Arizona.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves for Vegas upon his return from a lower-body injury that kept him out for nine games. The goaltender is one win from 440 in the NHL.

Mark Stone scored the lone goal for the Golden Knights. Paul Stastny had the lone assist in his return to the lineup. He’d missed two games with an undisclosed injury.

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Up Next:

Jets v Coyotes – Saturday, April 6 (10pm)

Knights v Kings – Saturday, April 6 (10:30pm)

 

KEY

Hockey Key

 

ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN

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