6 things we learned in the NHL: Playoff Knights

William Karlsson scored on an empty net for his 40th of the season as the Vegas Golden Knights topped the Colorado Avalanche 4-1.

It’s the end of March so the playoff picture is coming into focus, scorers are hitting career-highs and one of the league’s best gets his first win in quite some time.

Here are six things we learned in the NHL on Monday night.

Knights make the dance

The Vegas Golden Knights officially clinched a playoff spot with their 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

The Knights achieved the rare feat of heading to the post-season in just their first year in franchise history.

See how they stack up to other leagues:

In the process, head coach Gerard Gallant picked up his 200th win in his coaching career, and William (Wild Bill) Karlsson picked up his 40th goal of the year with an empty netter.

Ovechkin hits 45

Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin put himself at the top of yet another scoring list.

Midway through the first period in the Capitals’ game against the New York Rangers, Ovechkin ripped home his 45th goal of the season, giving him nine such seasons. That’s tied for the most 45-goal seasons with Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky.

Ovechkin’s 45 are the most since 2015-16. He only finished 2017 with 33, end of a three-year run with at least 50 goals. The 32-year-old now has 603 career goals through 997 games.

His 45 goals leads the league (two up on Winnipeg Jets’ Patrik Laine), and his search for his seventh Maurice Richard Trophy continues.

Leafs home win streak over

Prior to Monday night, the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs lost on home ice was Jan. 22 when the Colorado Avalanche walked into the Air Canada Centre to take a 4-2 win. They rattled off 13 straight home ice wins.

Then the Buffalo Sabres ruined everything.

The Leafs coughed up a one-goal lead in the third period after they let the Sabres score a pair in under two minutes, handing them their first loss in their home barn in more than two months.

During their streak they outscored their opponents 59-31 and the 26 points they picked up solidified their spot in third in the Atlantic Division.

Price back in win column

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price picked up his first win since Feb. 4 after he and his teammates took down the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Monday night.

Price stopped 26 shots en route to just his 16th win of the season. While he has been struggling with injuries that have limited him to 46 games, Price failed to pick up a win in each of his last seven contests during which he allowed four or more goals in four of them.

On the year, Price is 16-24-6 with a .902 save percentage and 3.07 goals-against average.

Kadri hits 30 in consecutive years

Leafs forward Nazem Kadri scored his 30th goal of the season in their loss against the Sabres. This is the second-straight year that the 27-year-old has hit the milestone after failing to do so in any other season since he entered the league in 2009-10. (To be fair, he only played one game 2010 and had 18 goals in the 48-game-lockout-shortened season.)

Kadri is on pace to surpass his career-high of 32 goals and has been on fire recently, picking up 17 points (12 goals, five assits) in his last 18 games.

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Islanders become first in division to lock playoff destiny

Entering Monday night, every team in the Metropolitan Division still had both a mathematical chance to make the playoffs and miss the playoffs. The New York Islanders became the first to cement their fate.

After a 3-0 loss to the Florida Panthers, the Islanders officially fell out of the playoff race.

While their season got off to a decent start — 20-17-4 at the halfway mark — they completely fell apart down the stretch, only stringing together at least three wins once and suffered through an eight-game losing streak between Feb. 19 and March 8.

Their New York counterparts could be following soon. The Rangers will be eliminated from playoff contention if the New Jersey Devils get a point in their Tuesday night game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

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