The Buzzer: Hats off to Craig Smith, McDavid race for 100, Islanders clinch playoff spot

NHL Scores
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Three Stars

1. Craig Smith, Boston Bruins. The Craig Smith, David Krejci, Taylor Hall line has been dominant for the Boston Bruins, and it shined again on Saturday in a convincing 6-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Smith helped drive that offense with a hat trick as he continued his second half offensive surge. He now has 13 goals and 32 points in 49 games this season, but has been especially productive in the month of April with 18 points in the Bruins’ 18 games. Since that line has been pieced together they have outscored teams by an 11-1 margin and controlled more than 64 percent of the total shot attempts during 5-on-5 play. That gives the Bruins two dominant scoring lines.

2. Bryan Rust, Pittsburgh Penguins. Bryan Rust has turned into an outstanding top-line player for the Pittsburgh Penguins and he always seems to shine around this time of the season. He scored two goals on Saturday in the Penguins’ 3-0 win over the Washington Capitals to take sole possession of first place in the East Division. He now has 22 goals in 52 games this season. In his past 150 games dating back to the middle of the 2018-19 season Rust has scored 66 goals. That averages out to a 37-goal pace per 82 games.

3. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders. The New York Islanders are officially back in the playoffs thanks to their convincing 3-0 win over the New York Rangers. The star of the game for the Islanders, again, was starting goalie Semyon Varlamov who allowed zero goals for his third consecutive start. He has allowed just one goal in his past four starts. The Islanders do not score a lot of goals, but with their systematic approach to team defense and one of the league’s best goaltending duos with Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin they are going to be a difficult team to beat. This is just the second time in the past 30 years that the Islanders have qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in three consecutive seasons.

Other Notable Performances From Saturday

Auston Matthews added to his league-leading goal total (38) with two goals in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

Anthony Duclair scored two goals for the Florida Panthers as they held off the Chicago Blackhawks to keep pace in the Central Division race.

Dougie Hamilton‘s overtime goal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Juuse Saros recorded another shutout and Erik Haula scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Nashville Predators an absolutely massive win over the Dallas Stars in the race for the fourth playoff spot in the Central Division.

• The Detroit Red Wings stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 1-0 shootout win that featured shootout goals from Jakub Vrana, Filip Zadina, Valtteri Filppula, and Sam Gagner.

Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 31 shots for the New Jersey Devils in a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Cole Caufield helped the Montreal Canadiens complete a huge comeback win against the Ottawa Senators by scoring his first NHL goal for the winner. Read all about that goal and game by clicking right here.

Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen both had two points in Colorado’s 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks.

• The Minnesota Wild scored two goals in the final five minutes of regulation to force overtime against the St. Louis Blues, setting the stage for Kevin Fiala‘s game winner to give the Wild the win.

Connor McDavid had three points in the Edmonton Oilers’ 4-1 win over Calgary to give him a league-leading 87 points in 49 games. That is insane. He needs 13 points in six games to reach the 100-point mark this season.

Ryan Miller gets the win in his final home start for the Anaheim Ducks as they are 6-2 winners over the Los Angeles Kings.

Jonathan Marchessault scored the game-winning goal for the Vegas Golden Knights in overtime as they beat the Arizona Coyotes.

Highlights Of The Day

The Detroit Red Wings surprised the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday in a 1-0 win that was highlighted by this crafty Jakub Vrana shootout goal.

Some great passing from the Minnesota Wild to complete the comeback in overtime.

Connor McDavid is just simply unstoppable sometimes.

Scores

Boston Bruins 6, Buffalo Sabres 2
Detroit Red Wings 1, Tampa Bay Lightning 0 (SO)
New York Islanders 3, New York Rangers 0
New Jersey Devils 4, Philadelphia Flyers 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Washington Capitals 0
Carolina Hurricanes 2, Columbus Blue Jackets 1 (OT)
Montreal Canadiens 3, Ottawa Senators 3 (OT)
Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Vancouver Canucks 1
Colorado Avalanche 4, San Jose Sharks 3
Minnesota Wild 4, St. Louis Blues 3
Florida Panthers 5, Chicago Blackhawks 4
Nashville Predators 1, Dallas Stars 0 (OT)
Anaheim Ducks 6, Los Angeles Kings 2
Edmonton Oilers 4, Calgary Flames 1
Vegas Golden Knights 3, Arizona Coyotes 2 (OT)

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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