The East Division was the place to be on Tuesday night as all eight teams were in action, with seven of them earning at least one point in the standings (the New York Rangers were the lone exception by losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins). With so many three-point games it did not do much to clean up the playoff race, but it was a wild night that gave us a little bit of everything.
Let’s take a quick stroll around the chaos.
Islanders winning streak reaches six games
Let’s start with the team at the top. Their 2-1 shootout win was not the most exciting game of the night, but that is probably just the way the Islanders like it. That win extends their current winning streak to six games, keeps them two points ahead of the Washington Capitals, and improves them to 13-3-1 overall since the start of February.
What stands out the most about that record is that all four losses during that stretch have come against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
They are 12-0-0 against the rest of the division during that stretch. Granted, seven of those wins have been against Buffalo and New Jersey, but they are still 3-0 against Boston and outscored them 13-5.
Buffalo blows a pair of two-goal leads to extend losing streak and Taylor Hall gets honest
The Sabres had leads of 3-1 and 4-2 on Tuesday night and still managed to lose to Philadelphia in a shootout, 5-4, to extend their current losing streak to eight games.
They are now just 2-12-1 in their past 15 games, while five of their next six games are against the Penguins, Bruins, and Capitals. So things are not going to get easier.
On the subject of this latest game, forward Taylor Hall had an interesting assessment on how the team should be playing right now, especially when it comes to protecting a lead.
Taylor Hall: "We have to learn how to to play with a lead and just go play. Let's be serious. We're a lot of points out of the playoffs. We should just be playing loose and playing free."
— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) March 10, 2021
It has been a wild season in Buffalo.
Capitals blow big lead, but still get the win
While the Flyers were rallying against Buffalo, Washington was allowing a three-goal lead to slip away against the New Jersey Devils. For whatever reason the Capitals just seem to mail it in over the final 20 minutes of regulation and were probably lucky to even get to overtime as they were a Dmitry Kulikov shot off the post away from losing in regulation.
But once they got to overtime Jakub Vrana scored the winner (his second goal of the game) to help them get the all important second point in the standings.
Where things stand now
This race is going to be fascinating the rest of the way. Pittsburgh is trailing the top-four teams by points percentage, but they are playing much better of late and still have all 16 of their games against New Jersey and Buffalo ahead of them. The Flyers, Capitals, and Islanders meanwhile will spend most of their second half playing against and taking points away from each other.
Here are the current standings and, most importantly, the pace for each of the five teams.