While two Eastern Conference matchups are still up in the air, the West is settled after the Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 in Colorado.
More on that decisive game in a moment. First, take a look at how it shakes out:
(Central 1) Nashville Predators vs. (Second wild) Colorado Avalanche
(Central 2) Winnipeg Jets vs. (Central 3) Minnesota Wild
(Pacific 1) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (First wild) Los Angeles Kings
(Pacific 2) Anaheim Ducks vs. (Pacific 3) San Jose Sharks
Nashville won the Presidents’ Trophy, so the Predators will hold home-ice advantage as long as they are in the playoffs. The Jets – Wild matchup seemed to be in the cards for some time, while there was plenty of turbulence below Vegas in the Pacific. The Ducks won their last game of the season while the Kings and Sharks fell on Saturday.
Out East, two intriguing playoff matchups are set. The Metropolitan Division-winning Washington Capitals will take on Columbus, the first wild card. Meanwhile, the in-state rivalry will continue for the Penguins and Flyers in the Metro’s two versus three matchup.
The Bruins and Lightning continue to vie for the Atlantic Division – and thus, the East’s eighth seed – so the Maple Leafs and Devils must wait to see who they’ll face. More on that here.
The Avalanche ended up winning 5-2 following a flurry of late goals (two for Colorado, one for St. Louis) with the Blues’ net empty. It ended up being closer than that score seemed, and there’s some controversy.
St. Louis has some reason to complain about Colorado’s second goal, as Tyson Barrie‘s power-play tally survived an offside review that’s more than a little bit polarizing:
“Maybe they need some glasses in Toronto,” Pietrangelo said. ” … Maybe they’re guessing, or maybe they didn’t want us to get in the playoffs.”
With that, the Avalanche went up 2-0 6:11 into the second period, and the decision could have been even more controversial if the Blues would have failed to kill the delay of game penalty. St. Louis managed to kill it off, though.
Regardless, the game could have been very different if Colorado’s lead stayed at 1-0. Alongside Duncan Keith‘s last-second goal to cost the Blues a win, that Barrie goal stands as a painful “What if?” question for St. Louis.