John Tavares scored the goal that sent a fairly one-sided game (Columbus generated a 38-22 shot advantage) to overtime, but ultimately the Blue Jackets edged the Islanders 3-2 in OT on Saturday afternoon.
With that, a variety of races get more interesting. Let’s begin with the top of the Metro (and generally the top of the East/NHL):
1. Capitals- 98 points, 70 games played
2. Blue Jackets – 98 points, 70 GP
3. Penguins – 97 points, 70 GP
Yes, that’s a tight squeeze, especially since both Washington and Columbus boast 44 regulation/overtime wins, the first tiebreaker. One would think that the Blue Jackets winning in overtime was a totally crummy break for the Caps, but there is this fun caveat: with a victory tonight, the Caps can be the league’s first team to clinch a trip to the playoffs.
As far as the three-team race for the top spots in the Metro goes, some teams will get more of an opportunity to “control their own destiny” than others:
The Blue Jackets thwarted the Islanders’ attempt to climb back into the East’s final wild card spot:
Final wild card: Maple Leafs: 78 points in 69 GP
Islanders: 78 in 71 GP
Lightning: 77 in 70 GP
Yeah, that’s a skin-tight race too, with this loss really stinging for an Islanders team that now must watch the Bolts and Maple Leafs while biting their nails a bit more.