Playoff race update: Lightning build on lead, West bubble teams stay alive


While there were only four games on the slate on Wednesday, the parity in the NHL means that every night can make a difference. Here’s a look at how those contests affected the outlook in the East and West:

East impact

  • OK, there was only one game for the East, but it was a substantial one. The Tampa Bay Lightning rode Steven Stamkos’ hat trick to a 5-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bolts have won four in a row while the Buds have dropped three consecutive contests.

Here’s the refreshed conference outlook, via NBC Sports:


West games

  • It was a busy night for the Central Division. At the higher ranks, the Colorado Avalanche grabbed a charity point in an OT loss to the Winnipeg Jets while the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-0. Chicago has one more point than Colorado for the second spot in the division, but losing Patrick Kane for multiple weeks is obviously bad news.
  • Again, the Jets grabbed an important two points, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.
  • Speaking of shaky hopes, the Vancouver Canucks blanked the Nashville Predators 2-0 to stay in the picture as well.

Take a look at the Western Conference races via NBC Sports: