East update: Jets put heat on Rangers for eighth spot

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By almost any measure, Tuesday was a rough night for the New York Rangers. As you’ll see from this roundup, just about every bubble team advanced their causes except for the Broadway Blueshirts.

Ottawa 3, Carolina 2

The Ottawa Senators suffered from a five-game swoon, but it looks like they’re getting it together. Craig Anderson was fantastic once again (32 out of 34 saves), yet the most promising sign might have been this pretty goal from recently returned winger Milan Michalek:

NY Islanders 5, Florida 2

After narrowly losing Saturday’s tense game against the Rangers, the New York Islanders dominated the lowly Florida Panthers 5-2 in one of those “games you have to win.” Speedy forward Michael Grabner is one of those guys who can make the Long Island bunch that much more dangerous, so fans must be pleased that he scored twice on Tuesday.

Philadelphia 4, NY Rangers 2 (click here)

Winnipeg 4, Tampa Bay 3 (SO)

The Winnipeg Jets looked like they might cough up a two-goal lead in this one, but they managed to win in the skills competition to prevail 4-3 (SO). That gives the streaky Jets four wins in a row after they dropped five consecutive losses. Andrew Ladd (two goals and one assists) and Blake Wheeler (one goal and two assists) stood out for the Jets while Steven Stamkos stayed right behind goals leader Alex Ovechkin with his 27th goal of the season.

This win keeps the Jets four points behind the surging Capitals for the Southeast Division lead, yet as you can see from these updated standings, they’re most obviously breathing down the Rangers’ necks:

6. Ottawa: 22-14-16 for 50 points, six games left (18 regulation/OT wins)
7. NY Islanders: 22-16-5 for 49 points, five games left (19 ROW)
8. NY Rangers: 21-17-4 for 46 points, six games left (17 ROW)
9. Winnipeg: 22-19-2 for 46 points, five games left (20 ROW)

The Flyers and Buffalo Sabres might be too far behind, yet the Rangers must note that those two teams are still stringing enough wins together to not be totally disregarded.

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With the Islanders potentially threatening for the Senators’ sixth spot and the Jets keeping the heat on both the Rangers and (to a lesser extent) the Capitals, this could be a wild finish in the East.