NHL Playoff Push: Flames, Bruins fighting for spots

Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames take on Pekka Rinne and the Predators Sunday looking to bounce back from losing three of their last four. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

The NHL playoff push is our daily look back and ahead at the post-season picture as teams position themselves for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


If the season ended today…

(A1) vs. (WC2)

(M1) vs. (WC1)

(A2) vs. (A3)

(M2) vs. (M3)

Note: The NHL changed the playoff format last season. Click here for full details.

Series we’d love to see: Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins — One word: Amazing.

What’d I miss? The Canadiens became the second Eastern Conference team to clinch a post-season berth. They beat the Panthers 3-2 in overtime on Saturday…The Canadiens also reclaimed the conference’s No. 1 seed after the New York Rangers were shelled by the Bruins in Henrik Lundqvist’s return to the ice…The Bruins moved back into a wild card position after the Ottawa Senators blew a 3-0 lead en route to an overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tyler Bozak registered his first career NHL hat trick…The Red Wings shut out the Lightning 4-0. Do they have a goalie controversy after Petr Mrazek was the star of the victory?

The Pittsburgh Penguins jumped past the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins edged out the Arizona Coyotes to end a recent skid while the Islanders lost to the Anaheim Ducks in an early afternoon game. Washington also played in the afternoon but fell 4-3 to the Nashville Predators…Philadelphia’s slim playoff chances got even smaller with a shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Sunday’s game to watch: Florida Panthers vs. Ottawa Senators: The Senators have lost two consecutive games after a season-high seven-game winning streak. The club fell out of a wild card spot Saturday night and will look to rebound Sunday against the Panthers. Florida has lost two of their three games against Ottawa this season. The Panthers are just four points behind the Bruins for the second wild card position. Aleksander Barkov scored two goals Saturday for his first multi-goal game in the NHL. Jonathan Huberdeau had two assists, and has two goals and four assists in his past six games.

The rest of tonight’s sked:
-Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers: Cam Talbot will start in goal after Henrik Lundqvist returned from a vascular injury on Saturday.

-Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes: Tuukka Rask will make the trip to Raleigh and will be available to start in net.

-Detroit Red Wings vs. New York Islanders: Islanders haven’t won a home game at Nassau Coliseum in March (0-5-1).

-San Jose Sharks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Penguins aren’t expecting defenceman Kris Letang to suit up after he left Saturday’s game with an injury.

Fun fact: Canadiens goalie Carey Price has a 17-1-1 record on Saturdays this season.


If the season ended today…

(P1) vs. (WC2)

(C1) vs. (WC1)

(C2) vs. (C3)

(P2) vs. (P3)

Series we’d love to see: Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks — Shea Weber, Roman Josi going up against Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks offence would be a fascinating matchup.

What’d I miss? The Predators beat the Washington Capitals (and former coach Barry Trotz) to lock up a post-season berth…Anaheim joined the Predators in the playoffs with a win over the Islanders…The Wild moved up the standings following a victory over the Los Angeles Kings, who were able to gain ground on the idle Flames…The win moved Minnesota into third place in the Central Division. Chicago now holds the No. 1 wild card position…The Blues held still in the standings. They lost 4-2 to the Blue Jackets…Eddie Lack made 36 saves but the Canucks fell to the Stars 4-3 in overtime.

Sunday’s game to watch: Calgary Flames vs. Nashville Predators: Calgary has lost three of their last four games, including a loss to Minnesota on Friday night, and have fallen out of a playoff spot. However, the Flames caught a break Saturday as the Kings lost in regulation. Los Angeles is one point up on Calgary. Nashville is in the playoffs so they’re focus shifts to winning the Central Division or the top spot in the conference. The Predators have a three-point cushion on St. Louis in the Central and just trail the Ducks for first place in the West with a game in hand.

The rest of tonight’s sked:
-Anaheim Ducks vs. New Jersey Devils: The Ducks are 2-2-0 on its five-game road trip.

-San Jose Sharks vs. Pittburgh Penguins: The Sharks are eight points behind the Jets for the second wild card spot.

-Chicago Blackhawks vs. Winnipeg Jets: The Jets have won six of their past seven games.

Fun fact: The Wild have a plus-44 goal differential since acquiring goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

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