The Buzzer: Penguins, Capitals clinch; Blues inch closer to playoffs

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Three Stars

1. Kasperi Kapanen, Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins were 5-4 overtime winners against the Washington Capitals on Thursday thanks in large part to a two-goal effort from Kapanen. His two goals were highlight reel worthy plays as he continues to be an impactful addition to their lineup. The Penguins getting two points and the Capitals getting one point for the overtime loss, combined with the New York Rangers’ loss to the New York Islanders, puts both teams in the playoffs. They are tied for the top spot in the East Division with 69 points. They play one more time in the regular season on Saturday.

2. Ryan O'Reilly, St. Louis Blues. The Blues have not officially clinched a playoff spot yet, but they took a huge step toward that on Thursday with a 5-4 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild. O’Reilly played a huge role in that win by scoring two goals, including the game-winner in overtime. The Blues now have a five-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes in the race for the fourth playoff spot in the West Division while still having two games in hand. They are now suddenly in a pretty good position to take that spot.

3. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs. Matthews added to his league-leading goal total by scoring his 36th goal of the season in Toronto’s 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. He now has an eight-goal lead over every other player in the league. If he could ever play a full 82-game season he would seem to be a lock for 50 goals at some point.

Other Notable Performances From Thursday

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 20 shots to record his fifth shutout of the season while also recording his 30th win in Tampa Bay’s 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars.

Sam Bennett continues to make an impact for the Florida Panthers with an overtime goal. Read all about that game here.

Teuvo Teravainen had a goal and an assist for the Carolina Hurricanes in their 3-1 win over Detroit.

Semyon Varlamov shut out the New York Rangers on Thursday as the New York Islanders keep hold of the third spot in the East Division.

Elias Lindholm scored two goals for the Calgary Flames in a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers to help them keep their playoff hopes alive.

Yegor Sharangovich continues to impress for the New Jersey Devils with two goals in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Highlights Of The Night

Jakub Vrana has been great for the Detroit Red Wings so far and this goal on Thursday night is a thing of beauty.

Speaking of big-time trade deadline additions, Taylor Hall scores another goal for the Boston Bruins thanks to this incredible pass from David Krejci.

Kapanen’s first goal is a great individual effort.

Scores

Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Dallas Stars 0
Boston Bruins 5, Buffalo Sabres 2
New Jersey Devils 5, Philadelphia Flyers 3
New York Islanders 4, New York Rangers 0
Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Washington Capitals 4 (OT)
Carolina Hurricanes 3, Detroit Red Wings 1
Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Vancouver Canucks 1
St. Louis Blues 5, Minnesota Wild 4 (OT)
Florida Panthers 4, Chicago Blackhawks 3 (OT)
Calgary Flames 3, Edmonton Oilers 1

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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