By shutting out the Arizona Coyotes 1-0 on Monday, the Los Angeles Kings end the night back in the West’s final wild card spot.
They had to grind this one out as Jonathan Quick made all 25 saves while Andy Andreoff scored the only goal on an increasingly spry Mike Smith (beaten just once on 35 shots). Los Angeles carried much of the play, but much like Washington out East, it wasn’t an easy night despite facing a “tanking” opponent.
Here is a quick look at the West wild card race after this one:
Minnesota (first wild card spot): 83 points, 35 regulation/overtime wins in 69 games played Los Angeles (second wild card spot): 81 points, 32 ROW in 69 GP
Winnipeg: 80 points, 28 ROW in 69 GP San Jose: 76 points, 31 ROW in 69 GP Colorado: 75 points, 23 ROW in 69 GP Dallas: 74 points, 29 ROW in 70 GP
It’s important to mention that the Kings could conceivably catch thee Calgary Flames (who have 81 points but two more ROW) and Vancouver Canucks (82 points, one game in hand on Los Angeles, plus three more ROW than the Kings) in the Pacific Division, too.
At this point, almost every win and loss could be framed as crucial. Regardless, the Kings would likely have some serious regrets if they dropped this one, but they managed to grit this one out. The West’s top teams probably aren’t happy, either.
Whether Toronto Maple Leafs fans are hoping for their team to tank or not, Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers was gruesome in many different ways.
Things were especially bleak for Jonathan Bernier, as he allowed three goals on four shots before being mercifully pulled in the first period of the game. The reactions on Twitter and social media in general ranged from sardonic to sorrowful.
Phil Kessel seemed to be in the latter camp:
Kessel: "This is an all-time low in hockey right now. It's a tough go." #Leafs
The game serves as another serious misstep for Nazem Kadri, who may find himself suspended by the league not that long after he was shelved by his team. Check out this hit he delivered on Matt Fraser:
As you can probably see, Kadri attempted to apologize to Fraser right after he delivered that check, which drew a two-minute illegal check to the head minor. After the game, he admitted that he’s concerned about getting suspended, as TSN’s Mark Masters reports.
Kadri admits he's a bit worried about possible suspension
The New York Islanders ready for a brief two-game road trip with some injury matters to consider.
New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple passes along word that Kevin Poulin has been recalled from the AHL, as Jaroslav Halak isn’t expected to join the team in Chicago on Tuesday. It’s unclear what, exactly, Halak is dealing with, but it may not be serious.
Staple also reports that Nick Leddy could be approaching his return to the Islanders lineup:
#Isles say Nick Leddy traveling with team to Chicago. Don't think he'll play tomorrow against his old team, but you should never believe me.
Leddy (pictured) has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury.
This might be a good time for the Islanders to gather their wits, as they’ve lost three games in a row and six of their last eight. The New York Rangers are pulling away enough that the Islanders really might just be fighting for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but either way they’d certainly prefer to get out of this minor funk before the playoffs begin.
John Tavares expects them to work their way out of this, for one.
Lightning win rough one, move into virtual Atlantic tie with Habs
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens might not seem like natural rivals, but they don’t seem to like each other, either. At least, that’s certainly the case with Brandon Prust and Ben Bishop.
The tough guy and goalie mixed it up again on Monday (particularly when Prust received a goalie interference penalty while checking Bishop behind his net) as the Lightning edged the Habs 4-2.
Technically, Tampa Bay didn’t tie Montreal for the Atlantic Division’s top spot, as the Canadiens hold a game in hand. This win definitely makes a big difference as far as the race for the division title is concerned, though.
Let’s be clear: if it comes down to a head-to-head tiebreaker, the Lightning will win that in a walk. They were victorious in all five games between the teams with Montreal only nabbing one out of a possible 10 standings points.
It should be an interesting ride to the finish line in that regard, and things could be awfully entertaining if the two teams happen to meet in the 2015 postseason.