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The Buzzer: Final Hart pushes, glory in garbage time

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Six of eight playoff matchups resolved, all 16 teams determined

During the afternoon, the Flyers finalized the East’s eight by beating the Rangers, pulling the plug on Florida’s surge. Late on Saturday, the Avalanche swiped the final West spot by beating the Blues. Get the lowdown on the matchups that have been determined here and learn how Panthers – Bruins will impact the rest of the East situation in this post.

#FiredAV

Not long after the Rangers’ regular season ended, they announced that Alain Vigneault has been fired.

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Schedule, Bracket, Streams and More

Final Hart pushes

  • Heading into the 2018-19 season, Claude Giroux crossed the 90-point mark once (93 in 2011-12) and never reached 30 goals in a campaign. Giroux collected his first career hat trick in clinching a playoff spot for the Flyers on Saturday, pushing him to career-highs in goals (34), assists (68), points (102), and even plus/minus (+28). Giroux finished the regular season with a 10-game point streak, generating a ridiculous eight goals (all in the last five contests) and 11 assists for 19 points.

Giroux already courted some Hart buzz, but with this finish, he might just check all the boxes as far as being vital to his team’s success, getting the big numbers as one of the season’s 100-point scorers, and also coming up huge in key situations.

  • With two assists in Edmonton’s shootout victory, Connor McDavid finishes the season with 108 points. In this era, it’s pretty mind-blowing to see a player generate consecutive Art Ross victories and consecutive 100-point seasons. He won the Art Ross by a healthy margin, but the Oilers’ incompetence could very well cost him another Hart Trophy. That shouldn’t diminish another great season for number 97, even though he’s sure to be unhappy with the team results.

  • Nathan MacKinnon slowed down the stretch, so he probably won’t beat out a fierce group of Hart bidders. Still, he’s at least orbiting the discussion, and came through with a strong performance. MacKinnon collected the game-winning goal and an assist, finishing this season with 97 points. Remarkable stuff, especially since injuries limited him to 74 games played.
  • Alex Ovechkin fell just short of 50 goals in 2018-19, collecting two goals in Washington’s win to finish with 49. He’ll settle for yet another Maurice Richard Trophy, and a decent argument to be a Hart Trophy finalist.

Garbage time glory

(Yes, McDavid could fit in this category, too.)

  • With teams either punting on the season or, in many cases, resting players for the postseason, there were some weird results. The Flames bombarded the Golden Knights 7-1, and Mark Jankowski probably made someone big money in DFS, generating a random four-goal game. Wow.

  • Jamie Benn hasn’t had the greatest season, yet he finished it in a way that inspires hope for 2018-19. His natural hat trick helped the Stars spoil the Kings’ bid at improved seeding, and it’s the second hat trick in Benn’s past three games. Benn generated eight goals and two assists for 10 points in his last five games.
  • The Predators already locked up the Presidents’ Trophy, so they didn’t really need Filip Forsberg to generate a hat trick. Still, with nine points in his last five games, maybe he’ll come into the postseason on a high note after a solid but somewhat streaky season?

Highlights

If this is John Tavares‘ last goal and game with the Islanders, at least he’d be going out with style:

Too bad the Panthers didn’t roll with Nick Bjugstad alongside Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov a little sooner:

More factoids

Connor Hellebuyck‘s mark slips under the radar a bit, but might come in handy at the negotiating table (he’s a pending RFA):

Should they re-name it the Ovi Trophy?

Squandering Mathew Barzal‘s sensational rookie season has to sting.

Scores

Flyers 5, Rangers 0
Jets 4, Blackhawks 1
Bruins 5, Senators 2
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2
Islanders 4, Red Wings 3 (OT)
Panthers 4, Sabres 3
Capitals 5, Devils 3
Hurricanes 3, Lightning 2 (OT)
Predators 4, Blue Jackets 2
Ducks 3, Coyotes 0
Avalanche 5, Blues 2
Flames 7, Golden Knights 1
Oilers 3, Canucks 2 (SO)
Stars 4, Kings 2
Wild 6, Sharks 3

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.

The Buzzer: Linus blankets Blue Jackets; KHL women’s dance party

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Player of the Night: Linus Ullmark, Buffalo Sabres

Quite a way for Ullmark to make his first start of 2017-18.

The 24-year-old set a new career-high with 44 saves against the Columbus Blue Jackets, helping Buffalo steal a 3-1 win. Only Artemi Panarin‘s beautiful goal beat Ullmark (or at least Ullmark and his post) during this game.

One wonders if Ullmark, 24, deserves a longer look with Buffalo or elsewhere. He generated an outstanding .928 save percentage in 26 AHL games this season, and while his NHL work has been sporadic, he’s been solid when called upon. What else does Buffalo have to lose, other than better draft lottery odds?

Highlight of the Night: Speaking of that Panarin goal …

Runner-up goes to Mark Jankowski, who poured it on for the Flames against the Lightning:

Dance Party!

Lowlight of the Night: Although, maybe a highlight because Kyle Okposo deserves some luck after last season’s health scares.

Factoid

The Hurricanes ended the Capitals’ home dominance, continuing their rise in the process:

Scores

Sabres 3, Blue Jackets 1
Hurricanes 3, Capitals 1
Flames 5, Lightning 1

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.

The Buzzer: Marchessault leads Golden Knights; Boeser injures foot

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Player of the Night: Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights

Marchessault took over the Vegas scoring lead with a big night during a 5-2 win over his old team, the Florida Panthers. The Golden Knights scored four unanswered goals after falling behind 2-0 early in the first period, and Marchessault played a big part by assisting on the tying and go-ahead goals and then potting the empty-netter to seal things. He now has 29 points on the season.

Reilly Smith, another ex-Panther, chipped in a pair of assists, including one on Marchessault’s goal to ice things for Gerard Gallant’s side. Vegas is now 13-2-1 at home.

Highlight of the Night:

Patrik Laine scored his team-leading 16th of the season for the Winnipeg Jets, and it was beautiful.

MISC:

Patrick Kane scored twice and Corey Crawford made 27 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks downed the Minnesota Wild 4-1 for their fifth win in a row. Kane now has seven points in his last four games. He’s one goal away from 300 for his career and now sits fifth all-time in Blackhawks history.

• Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 24 shots he faced and recorded his eighth career shutout during a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues. Adam Lowry, Laine, Mark Scheifele and Josh Morrissey provided the goals as the Jets split their home-and-home with the Blues.

Sam Bennett had four points and Mark Jankowski recorded three as the Calgary Flames drubbed the Vancouver Canucks 6-1. Mark Giordano added a pair of goals and David Rittich stopped 16 of 17 shots he faced for his third career NHL victory.

• The Canucks and Panthers weren’t too fond of the third period Sunday night. Vancouver was outshot 19-4 while Florida mustered only two shots on goal while allowing 18 over the final 20 minutes.

• Oh no. Brock Boeser left the game early in the second period after blocking a Mark Giordano shot. Canucks head coach Travis Green did not have an update after the game. This is not good.

Erik Johnson of the Colorado Avalanche will miss two games after being suspended for boarding Vladislav Namestnikov of the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night.

• Congrats, Erik Karlsson. It’s a boy!

Factoid of the Night:

Scores:
Winnipeg 4, St. Louis 0
Chicago 4, Minnesota 1
Calgary 6, Vancouver 1
Vegas 5, Florida 2

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy

PHT Morning Skate: Paying Ekman-Larsson; message sent in Buffalo

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• He could be a big-time UFA, so can the Arizona Coyotes afford to re-sign Oliver Ekman-Larsson? [Five for Howling]

Alex DeBrincat is turning into quite a draft steal for the Chicago Blackhawks. [Second City Hockey]

• With Cam Talbot sidelined, should the Edmonton Oilers pursue any of these goaltenders? [Oilers Nation]

• Following Matt Moulson being placed on waivers, the message has been sent to the Buffalo Sabres from general manager Jason Botterill. [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

• Are Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski the perfect match for the Calgary Flames? [From 80 Feet Above]

• Have the Montreal Canadiens truly turned the corner? [FanRag Sports]

• Canadiens rookie defenseman Victor Mete keeps showing why he belongs in the NHL. [Montreal Gazette]

• While he may be with the Florida Panthers now Jack Capuano still roots for the New York Islanders. [Islanders Insight]

• When the Boston Bruins get fully healthy there will be plenty of decisions to make. [Bruins Daily]

• The Vancouver Canucks are smiling because prospect Jonathan Dahlen is tearing up the Swedish’a Allsvenskan. [Daily Hive]

• Taking a look at what Team USA’s Olympic roster might have looked like if NHL players were available. [USA Today]

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Teravainen’s first hat trick powers Canes; Jankowski’s pair leads Flames

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Player of the Night: Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes

With the score even at one early in the third period, Teravainen took over, netting his first career hat trick au natural as the Hurricanes beat the Dallas Stars 5-1. He ended up with four points on the night after recording an assist on Carolina’s opening goal.


Highlight of the Night: Slick second goal of the night for Flames forward Mark Jankowski:

MISC:

Jordan Staal was busy with assists on four of Carolina’s five goals.

Sebastian Aho scored his first goal of the year and added two helpers.

• Carolina has picked up points in their last five games.

Alex Radulov extended his point streak to eight games with a second period power play goal.

• A wild seven-goal third period ended with the Calgary Flames topping the St. Louis Blues 7-4. Jankowski had himself a night with two goals and an assist.

Micheal Ferland scored and now has five goals in his last six games.

• Just like Aho opened his 2017-18 account Monday night, so too did Sam Bennett with his first of the season.

• Calgary has scored 20 goals in their last four games.

Factoid of the Night:

Scores:
Carolina 5, Dallas 1
Calgary 7, St. Louis 4

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.