Key playoff happenings
- The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche, collecting the point (and one more) needed to clinch a playoff berth in their inaugural season. They also regained their six-point lead over the Sharks for the Pacific Division crown.
- The Sharks were once buffer fodder, so just about locking down at least one round of home-ice advantage as the Pacific’s second seed isn’t a bad consolation prize. San Jose managed to grind out a shootout win against Chicago, giving the Sharks eight consecutive wins.
- The Florida Panthers made no mistake about it against the Islanders, beating them 3-0 on Monday. Florida now has 85 points, one behind the Devils (86) for the final wild card spot. The Panthers have a game in hand on the Devils, too, so this was a big win.
- Los Angeles provided the latest enormous blow to Calgary’s playoff hopes. In doing so, the Kings climbed back into the West’s wild-card rankings. They also kept pressure on the idle Anaheim Ducks for third in the Pacific. Los Angeles is now the first wild card holder.
- By falling to Vegas in regulation, Colorado now sits behind the Kings as the second wild-card team. The Blues fall outside the playoff ranks as the ninth-ranked team in the West.
- While the Capitals look like strong favorites to win the Metro after their win, the Lightning were upset by the Sabres. The idle Bruins only trail the Lightning for the Atlantic lead by two points, and Boston holds two games in hand over Tampa Bay.
Players of the Night
William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault led the charge for the Golden Knights. Each player collected one goal and two assists. With an empty-netter, Karlsson hit the 40-goal mark, while Marchessault generated his 25th of 2017-18. It’s fitting that those two forwards were instrumental in this clinching victory.
[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]
Lias Andersson couldn’t trigger a Rangers rally, but he did score a goal in his NHL debut:
Warren Foegele collected his first goal and his first career assist as the Hurricanes cruised against the Senators. Here’s the tally, which includes some fun locker room footage as well:
Finally, Trevor Murphy scored his first NHL goal as the Coyotes upset the Lightning:
There are likely dozens of ways to contextualize the Golden Knights’ latest incredible achievement. Here’s one.
Here is another:
Sabres 3, Maple Leafs 2
Panthers 3, Islanders 0
Hurricanes 4, Senators 1
Capitals 4, Rangers 2
Canadiens 4, Red Wings 2
Coyotes 4, Lightning 1
Sharks 4, Blackhawks 3 (SO)
Golden Knights 4, Avalanche 1
Kings 3, Flames 0
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.