NHL Playoff picture after Wednesday: Blues come up short for share of Central lead

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 Thursday’s biggest games.

The St. Louis Blues failed to tie for the Central Division lead after dropping a 4-3 shootout decision to the Chicago Blackhawks. 

For some big numbers and highlights, check The Buzzer.

Wednesday’s East playoff clinchers

  • None. The Ottawa Senators beat the New York Rangers 4-1 in a game of no importance to the playoff picture.

Wednesday’s West playoff clinchers

  • None. But the St. Louis Blues missed a chance to bring themselves level with the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets on 96 spots. The Blues now have 95 after picking up a point in a 4-3 shootout loss to Chicago Blackhawks.

WEDNESDAY’S SCORES

Senators 4, Rangers 1
Blackhawks 4, Blues 3 (SO)
Ducks 3, Flames 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 clinched
Predators vs. Blues

THURSDAY’S BIGGEST GAMES

Lightning at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET

This means nothing in the playoff race. The Lightning will finish first in the Atlantic Division and the Maple Leafs will finish third. But the Lightning are chasing the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings’ 62 regular-season wins, most in NHL history. The Lightning are on 60 with two games remaining. The math is simple.

Islanders at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET

Speaking of simple math, a win for the Islanders on Thursday will lock up second place in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage against whoever they face in the first round. A win will also pull themselves to within one point of the top-seeded Washington Capitals, at least momentarily, with the Capitals also in action Thursday.

Red Wings at Penguins, 7 p.m. ET

The Penguins are in a fight to say in the top three of the Metro. The Hurricanes will have an easier matchup (at least on paper) against the New Jersey Devils while Pittsburgh has to contend with the Red Wings, a team that’s won six straight. Third place will be theirs if they beat Detroit and the Hurricanes lose. They could still catch the Islanders for second, too, depending on how the Isles do.

Canadiens at Capitals, 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Montreal desperately needs a win. After pulling out all the stops in a 4-2 victory against the Lightning on Tuesday, they’ll face another still test in the Capitals, who can secure the division crown with a win.

Devils at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET

A Hurricanes win and a Canadiens loss will help Carolina clinch a playoff spot for the first time in nearly a decade.

Flyers at Blues, 8 p.m. ET

With the Blues only picking up a point in a 4-3 loss to Chicago on Wednesday, they now need a lot of help from the two teams in from of them, namely Nashville and Winnipeg, to go from last to first by the end of the regular season. That starts with a tough game on Thursday being that it’s on the second half of a back to back.

Canucks at Predators, 8 p.m. ET

The Predators can still win the Central Division but will need some help from the Jets and the Blues. The Predators need Winnipeg to lose somewhere down the line and to win out themselves to take the division crown.

Jets at Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET

The Jets held a closed-door meeting after a dreadful 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. The Jets hold the keys to first place and need only to win their two remaining games to book a date with the Dallas Stars. They’ll be in tough against the Avalanche, who can clinch a playoff spot with a point.

Coyotes at Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET 

The Coyotes have to win and then they need to hope the Jets can knock off the Avalanche in regulation. That’s the only way they stay alive until Game 82. Arizona has put up one hell of a fight, and they’ll have to put up a bigger one still as they’re likely to be without Darcy Kuemper, who took a stick to the eye on Tuesday.


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

Scroll Down For: