NHL Playoff picture after Tuesday: Canadiens gain crucial ground

Associated Press
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For the final week of the 2018-19 NHL regular season we will take an updated look at the Stanley Cup Playoff picture — what the standings look like, the potential matchups, who clinched, and set the stage for Wednesday’s biggest games.

Montreal came up huge, Columbus threw up a dud and the Arizona Coyotes are on life-support. Also, the Western Conference gained some clarity on Tuesday night. 

For some big numbers and highlights, check The Buzzer.

Tuesday’s East playoff clinchers

  • The Boston Bruins locked up home-ice advantage with a 6-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets and a 4-1 loss by the Toronto Maple Leafs at home to the Carolina Hurricanes
  • Speaking of the Hurricanes, they moved into the first wildcard with Columbus’ stumble.
  • The Montreal Canadiens moved into a tie for the second wildcard with a 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning

Tuesday’s West playoff clinchers

  • The Dallas Stars clinched with a convincing 6-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • The Minnesota Wild are done, even after an impressive 5-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets. So too are the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams had their hopes in the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, and well, never put your hope in the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Winnipeg’s loss coupled with Nashville’s win means the Predators are once again tied for top spot in the Central Division. Winnipeg holds the keys to first place if they can win their final two games.
  • The Colorado Avalanche needed a win to keep the Arizona Coyotes at bay and got one. A big one. The Coyotes needed to beat the Los Angeles Kings and they didn’t. They trail the Avs by four points with two games to play.

TUESDAY’S SCORES

Predators 3, Sabres 2
Bruins 6, Blue Jackets 2
Hurricanes 4, Maple Leafs 1
Canadiens 4, Lightning 2
Red Wings 4, Penguins 1
Wild 5, Jets 1
Stars 6, Flyers 2
Avalanche 6, Oilers 2
Canucks 4, Sharks 2
Kings 3, Coyotes 1

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY
Lightning vs. Blue Jackets
Capitals vs. Hurricanes
Islanders vs. Penguins
Bruins vs. Maple Leafs — series clinched

Flames vs. Avalanche
Jets vs. Stars
Sharks vs. Golden Knights — series matchup clinched
Predators vs. Blues

WEDNESDAY’S BIGGEST GAMES

Blues at Blackhawks (8 p.m. on Wednesday Night Hockey on NBCSN)

There’s only one that has any bearing on a race in either conference. The St. Louis Blues can move back into a three-way tie for the uber-up in the air Central Division. The Nashville Predators moved level with the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday after the former won and the latter lost. The Blues, with a game in hand and two points behind both teams, can keep things interesting. The Jets still hold the keys to the division as long as they win their final two games. But there are two teams, including the Blues, who are waiting in the wings if they are to slip.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck