The NHL season is ending this week. One team is making history with their 60th win, while a couple other teams are clinching playoff spots and jockeying for position in the standings. Here are the latest NHL news and notes.
Lightning win #60
Following a 5-2 victory over the Senators on Monday night, the Lightning became the third team in NHL history to reach the 60-win mark. Tampa Bay joins the 1976-77 Canadiens and the 1995-96 Red Wings as the most successful regular season teams in history.
In last night’s win, Nikita Kucherov had three more assists, moving his league-leading point total to 125. He is two away from tying Alexander Mogilny’s record for most points in a single season by a Russian-born player. Yanni Gourde also had two goals and an assist, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves.
With three games left to go, the Lightning (60-15-4) have a chance to surpass Detroit’s 62 wins as the most in a season. Their last three opponents are all on the road, starting with the Canadiens on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs on Thursday, and the Bruins on Saturday.
Maple Leafs clinch playoff spot
For the third straight season, the Maple Leafs are playing postseason hockey. Toronto clinched their spot with a 2-1 win against the Islanders on Monday night in New York.
John Tavares scored a goal, his first against his former team and 46th overall this season. Calle Rosen also scored his first NHL goal and Frederik Andersen made 28 saves for Toronto, who moves up to 46-26-7 on the season.
The Maple Leafs have the benefit of knowing their first round opponent, as they are set to face the Boston Bruins in a seven-game series to open the playoffs. Home ice is still up for grabs, however, as the Leafs trail Boston by four points with three games left in the season. Toronto’s next chance to gain ground on Boston is Tuesday against the Hurricanes at home.
Jets, Blues win
The Central Division race is coming down to the wire, and both the Jets and Blues have every intention of winning at the end. Winnipeg finished the night in first place following a 4-3 overtime win against the Blackhawks. Meanwhile St. Louis topped the Avalanche in a 3-2 shootout win to move into second place.
Kevin Hayes scored 3:38 into overtime to keep Winnipeg in first place. At 46-29-4 (96 points), they are two points ahead of both the Blues and Predators. The Blues continued their impressive second half with Monday’s win, and now own the tiebreaker over Nashville for second place.
Winnipeg, St. Louis, and Nashville each have three games remaining. However, the Jets have 44 regulation/overtime wins, three more than the Blues and four more than the Predators. The Jets will try to pad their division lead Tuesday against the Wild, while the Predators and Blues attempt to catch up against the Sabres on Tuesday and Blackhawks on Wednesday, respectively.
Big games are on the schedule tonight, including some Eastern Conference games that have massive implications. First, the Blue Jackets will hope to stay in their Wild Card spot when they host the Bruins. The Hurricanes have a chance to pass Columbus with a win on the road against the Maple Leafs. And the Canadiens need a win to stay alive when they welcome the Lightning to town. All three of those teams are separated by just two points in the standings.