Push for the Playoffs: Hurricanes, Canadiens look to build some cushion in East

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2018-19 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens received some big help on Thursday in the form of the Columbus’ Blue Jackets loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins (read about it here), keeping both of them two points up  in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race.

Now they have a chance to help themselves on Friday night.

The Canadiens missed an opportunity to gain some ground with their loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, but are right back in action tonight when they visit the Anaheim Ducks with Carey Price going for the franchise’s all-time wins record. A win would give them a four-point cushion over the Blue Jackets heading into the weekend with still one head-to-head meeting remaining on the schedule. Given where the Ducks are in the standings and how they have played for most of the season you have to think this is two points the Canadiens do not want to leave sitting on the table.

Carolina, meanwhile, looks to continue its white-hot play since the start of the calendar year when it plays host to the Winnipeg Jets. The Hurricanes are 19-6-1 since the start of the new year and would jump back into the third spot in the Metropolitan Division with a win over a slumping Jets team that is stuck in a back-and-forth race with the Nashville Predators for first place in the Central.

Elsewhere in the East, the Washington Capitals are facing a completely depleted New Jersey Devils roster and have a chance to regain the top spot in the Metropolitan Division with a win.

Out west, the Minnesota Wild are coming off of a massive win over the Tampa Bay Lighting on Thursday night to increase their current point streak to eight games. They have a chance to make it nine games in a row on Friday against the Florida Panthers. A win would increase their lead over the Arizona Coyotes to five points in the Western Conference Wild Card race.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Lightning vs. Canadiens
Islanders vs. Hurricanes
Capitals vs. Penguins
Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Flames vs. Wild
Predators vs. Stars
Jets vs. Blues
Sharks vs. Golden Knights

TODAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
Minnesota Wild vs. Florida Panthers (7 p.m. ET)
New Jersey Devils vs. Washington Capitals (7 p.m. ET)
Winnipeg Jets vs. Carolina Hurricanes (7:30 p.m. ET)
Montreal Canadiens vs. Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET)

Here is today’s Stanley Cup Playoff clinching scenario:

The Lightning will clinch a playoff berth:
• If the Canadiens lose in regulation at the Ducks.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Sports Club Stats)
Tampa Bay Lightning — 100 percent
Boston Bruins — 100 percent
Toronto Maple Leafs — 100 percent
New York Islanders — 99.4 percent
Washington Capitals — 98.4 percent
Pittsburgh Penguins — 95.2 percent
Carolina Hurricanes — 87.3 percent
Montreal Canadiens — 72.1 percent
Columbus Blue Jackets — 44.8 percent
Philadelphia Flyers — 2.2 percent
Buffalo Sabres — 0.5 percent
Florida Panthers — 0.2 percent
New York Rangers — 0.0 percent
New Jersey Devils — 0.0 percent
Detroit Red Wings — Out
Ottawa Senators — Out

WESTERN CONFERENCE

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Sports Club Stats)
Calgary Flames — 100 percent
San Jose Sharks — 100 percent
Winnipeg Jets — 99.9 percent
Nashville Predators — 99.7 percent
Vegas Golden Knights — 97.6 percent
St. Louis Blues — 96.5 percent
Dallas Stars — 87.7 percent
Minnesota Wild — 54.4 percent
Arizona Coyotes — 34.4 percent
Colorado Avalanche — 24.7 percent
Edmonton Oilers — 3.8 percent
Chicago Blackhawks — 0.8 percent
Vancouver Canucks — 0.6 percent
Anaheim Ducks — 0.0 percent
Los Angeles Kings — 0.0 percent

JACK OR KAAPO? THE DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE
Ottawa Senators — 18.5 percent*
Los Angeles Kings — 13.5 percent
Detroit Red Wings — 11.5 percent
New Jersey Devils — 9.5 percent
Anaheim Ducks — 8.5 percent
Vancouver Canucks — 7.5 percent
Chicago Blackhawks — 6.5 percent
New York Rangers — 6.0 percent
Edmonton Oilers — 5.0 percent
Florida Panthers — 3.5 percent
Buffalo Sabres — 3.0 percent
Colorado Avalanche — 2.5 percent
Arizona Coyotes — 2.0 percent
Philadelphia Flyers — 1.5 percent
Columbus Blue Jackets — 1.0 percent**
(*OTT’s 2019 first-round pick owned by COL)
(**CBJ’s 2019 lottery-protected first-round pick is owned by OTT. If top three, moves to 2020)

ART ROSS RACE
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning — 108 points
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks — 96 points
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers — 94 points
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins — 87 points
Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche — 85 points

ROCKET RICHARD RACE
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals — 46 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers — 41 goals
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks — 40 goals
John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs — 37 goals
Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning — 37 goals

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.