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

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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:

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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:

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