Stars win but Golden Knights have small playoff chance; Kings, Predators clinch

Stars win but Golden Knights have small playoff chance; Kings, Predators clinch
Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

As expected, Tuesday’s game between the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights clinched some playoff berths. However, since it went to a shootout, it didn’t clinch anything for the Stars or Golden Knights; instead, that helped to punch playoff tickets for the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators.

Stars beat Golden Knights, but neither team is 100% settled yet re: playoffs

In an often-thrilling game, the Stars outlasted the Golden Knights 3-2 via a shootout. Dallas overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits thanks to Jason Robertson goals, then Miro Heiskanen scored the shootout-winner.

Perhaps fittingly, Heiskanen scored on a possibly banged-up Logan Thompson, as the goalie shook off a hard collision during the overtime period.

It’s now officially down to the Stars and Golden Knights for a playoff spot. Considering that the Golden Knights were already chasing the Stars, it’s indeed true that Dallas doesn’t need to do much. In fact, the Stars merely need to earn one standings point; they can lose both games but reach overtime once, and that would clinch a spot.

As you can see from the threaded tweets above, the Golden Knights already face a challenge in needing to beat the Blackhawks and a tough opponent in the Blues. (Vegas must hope for St. Louis to rest some players … assuming that game will mean anything for the Golden Knights.)

The Stars, meanwhile, face two teams far-removed from playoff contention in the Ducks and Coyotes. The Stars could clinch that playoff spot (and officially eliminate the Golden Knights) as early as Wednesday vs. the lowly Coyotes.

Kings, Predators clinch playoff spots; Nashville must worry about Saros injury

For the idle Los Angeles Kings, they know that they’ve clinched a playoff berth, and also know their opponent. They’ll take on an Oilers team that will hold home-ice advantage, and has been hot lately.

This marks the first time the Kings reached the playoffs since 2017-18. This franchise last won a playoff series when they won the 2014 Stanley Cup.

Although the Predators lost to the Flames, they made it beyond regulation. Between that and the Golden Knights losing, the Predators clinched a playoff berth for the eight season in a row.

It wasn’t all good news for the Predators, though. Late in the game, precious workhorse goalie Juuse Saros left with an injury. There’s some belief that it’s ankle-related.

It’s yet another example of the push-and-pull of late-regular-season games. Do you rest key players or try to win every game? Naturally, it’s easier to excuse the Predators with Saros, as they had not yet clinched a playoff spot. That said, considering how much they count on his elite goaltending, it’s fair to ask if they should’ve taken a wait-and-see approach and rested him on Tuesday.

Either way, they need to hope that Saros is good to go by playoff time. If they’re reasonable, they’ll at least sit Saros and other highly-used players (Roman Josi?) during their final two games on Thursday and Friday. Maybe even have them save the travel, since each contests is on the road?

Well, at least the Predators and Kings don’t need to wonder if decisions would keep them from making the playoffs at all.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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