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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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.