NHL Playoff Push: Canucks still breathing

Ryan Kesler. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

With the NHL playoff race heating up, we track the teams impacted by last night’s results and which of tonight’s games will affect the playoff picture.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

If the season ended today…

BOSTON BRUINS vs. DETROIT RED WINGS

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS vs. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

MONTREAL CANADIENS vs. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

NEW YORK RANGERS vs. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Who’s already clinched? Boston Bruins

What’d I miss? It was a tough night for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were manhandled by the St. Louis Blues in a 5-3 loss. Jonathan Bernier returned to the ice but he couldn’t help end the Leafs’ six-game losing streak as Toronto allowed 44 shots. The Leafs fell out of a wild card position (they are now 10th place in the conference) after the Columbus Blue Jackets beat Detroit 4-2 in regulation. Gustav Nyquist scored two goals but it wasn’t enough for the Red Wings, who still sit in the second wild card spot with two games in hand on Toronto. The Washington Capitals had the chance to jump Detroit and Toronto, but fell to the Los Angeles Kings in a shootout despite owning an early two-goal lead. Alexander Ovechkin scored his 47th and 48th goals and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first career NHL goal. By registering one point, Washington, Toronto, and Detroit, and Columbus all sit with 80 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were unable to lock up a playoff berth with a 3-2 loss to Phoenix with backup Thomas Greiss in net. The Pens will be without Evgeni Malkin for the remainder of the regular season. In the Atlantic Division, the Montreal Canadiens — who have played two more games than the Lightning — jumped past Tampa Bay in the standings with a 2-0 victory over the lowly Buffalo Sabres. Carey Price picked up a 24-save shutout.

Wednesday’s game to watch:
Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Rangers — This could be a playoff preview. As of Wednesday, the Flyers and Rangers seem destined for a first-round matchup and this game could play a big part in who gets home-ice advantage. The Rangers currently lead Philadelphia by one point but have two games in hand. Both teams are hitting their stride late in the season as Philadelphia is 7-2-1- in their last 10 games while the Rangers have been just as impressive at 7-3-0. The Flyers have gotten great play from Wayne Simmonds, and Scott Hartnell as of late while Martin St. Louis has yet to register a goal as a member of the Rangers.

Fun fact: Claude Giroux has 56 points in his past 44 games. The Team Canada snub didn’t slow him down.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

If the season ended today…

ST. LOUIS BLUES vs. PHOENIX COYOTES

SAN JOSE SHARKS vs. MINNESOTA WILD

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS vs. COLORADO AVALANCHE

ANAHEIM DUCKS vs. LOS ANGELES KINGS

Who’s already clinched? St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks

What’d I miss? The Coyotes, despite missing goaltender Mike Smith due to injury, were able to gain ground on the Dallas Stars with a 3-2 road win in Pittsburgh. The Stars, on the other hand, fell short to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 and remain three points behind Phoenix with a game in hand. St. Louis extended their lead atop the Western Conference with a 5-3 win in Toronto, thanks to David Backes’s hat trick. San Jose bounced back from a shootout loss to Calgary with a 5-2 win over the Oilers. Joe Pavelski scored three goals for San Jose in the victory, while the idle Ducks were able to clinch a playoff berth. Anaheim sits just four points behind San Jose with three games in hand.

Wednesday’s game to watch:
Vancouver Canucks @ Minnesota Wild: The Canucks have won back-to-back games but still remain a longshot for a playoff berth. Vancouver is six points behind Phoenix for the final wild card position. They haven’t been able to gain ground in the playoff race as Phoenix has registered nine of a possible 12 points in their past six games. Vancouver will turn to the red-hot Eddie Lack, who has allowed just two goals in his last two starts, to stop Minnesota who are tough to beat at home (23-8-5 this season). Vancouver will not have Henrik Sedin, who did not travel with the team on the road trip. Minnesota is 2-0-0 against the Canucks this season.

Fun fact: The Calgary Flames have won 10 of their past last 13 home games. Who would’ve thought that?

The rest of tonight’s sked:

-Anaheim @ Calgary: Can Mike Cammalleri extend his seven-game point streak against a hungry Ducks squad?