The Buzzer: Spectacular debut to end season; Many records broken

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(UPDATE: Here’s the full Round 1 schedule with dates and TV info.)

Round 1 matchups are set

The Predators winning the Central Division was the biggest tournament-altering moment of the last night of the regular season. You can now see all eight series matchups here, with additional information.

Those who didn’t make it …

Get to cross their fingers and hope that their team wins the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery. Get the lowdown in this post.

Kucherov, Lightning hit 128

In a remarkable moment of symmetry, both the Lightning and Nikita Kucherov will end 2018-19 with 128 points. On the way, the Bolts tied the NHL record with 62 wins. This post is basically the factoids on those specific accomplishments, and they’re really something.

Three Stars

1. Ryan Poehling

For Poehling, this wasn’t just the last game of the season, it was also his first NHL game. So what did he do? He celebrated it with a hat trick and a shootout-winner, that’s how. Yes, it is indeed worth a post of its own.

In what was one of the other highlights of the night, legendary announcer Bob Cole ended his broadcasting career while Poehling began his in a memorable way:

2. Robin Lehner

Lehner put a bow on a remarkable regular season, making 29 saves for his sixth shutout of 2018-19. He did so in just 46 games played (43 of those being starts), going 25-13-5 with a tremendous .930 save percentage.

With Thomas Greiss being almost as good in 2018-19, it’s unlikely that Lehner built up the volume of games (and to some voters, most importantly wins) to be a serious Vezina threat. Nights like these should stand as a reminder of just how special his season has been.

Then again, Lehner and Greiss combined to win the William Jennings Trophy for the lowest GAA, so they get fitting recognition as a tandem.

Now, the question is: can he back it up during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs? For all of the Penguins’ flaws, they have a knack for making even the hottest goalies look cold.

3. Oliver Bjorkstrand

If the Blue Jackets hope to upset the mighty Lightning, they’ll probably need more than just a strong series from Artemi Panarin and for Sergei Bobrovsky to finally overcome the ghosts of playoffs past.

Someone like Bjorkstrand pitching in would really help. He’s been absolutely on fire during the last 10 games, firing in an impressive nine goals and two assists for 11 points. Bjorkstrand managed all of his assists in one game: Saturday’s 6-2 thumping of the Senators, where the winger also scored a goal.

Bjorkstrand’s shown signs of being a dangerous player in the past, including at lower levels than the NHL. He could be an X-factor in the first round … if Columbus manages to keep things close, at least.

Highlight of the Night

Scratch that, let’s call this what it is:

One more Gritty video

Gritty vs. goalies? The Flyers are embracing their history, right?

Factoids

Scores
TBL 6 – BOS 3
STL 3 – VAN 2 (SO)
MTL 6 – TOR 5 (SO)
CBJ 6 – OTT 2
BUF 7 – DET 1
NJD 4 – FLA 3 (OT)
CAR 4 – PHI 3
NYR 4 – PIT 3 (OT)
NYI 3 – WSH 0
NSH 5 – CHI 2
DAL 3 – MIN 0
EDM 3 – CGY 1
WPG 4 – ARI 2
LAK 5 – VGK 2
SJS 5 – COL 2

For the third consecutive postseason, NBC Sports’ coverage of Stanley Cup Playoff first-round games on NBCUniversal cable networks (NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC), as well as NHL Network, will air side-by-side and will be available for streaming on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app in local markets alongside regional sports network game telecasts. (Local blackouts apply in Las Vegas and Pittsburgh in the first round).

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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.

Blue Jackets prospect Bjorkstrand to join Denmark at Worlds

Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand is set to join Team Denmark in at the World Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.

According to reports, Bjorkstrand could play in Denmark’s game against the Russians on Wednesday.

Bjorkstrand had 63 goals and 118 points in 59 Western Hockey League games with the Portland Winterhawks.

The 20-year-old added 13 goals and 12 assists in 17 playoff games. The Kelowna Rockets eliminated the Winterhawks on Sunday.

He represented Denmark at the World Junior Hockey Championship earlier this year registering four goals and an assist in five games.

Bjorkstrand was the Jackets third-round selection (89th overall) in 2013.

Report: Jackets’ Milano to join Springfield Falcons this week

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Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Sonny Milano is expected join the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League this week now that his junior season has ended.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Milano could join the AHL club as early as Tuesday.

In his first season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers, Milano had a team-leading 22 goals and 46 assists in 50 games. The 18-year-old also had two goals and four points in five games at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Here’s a look at some of Milano’s work from his rookie season in the OHL:

Columbus is also watching prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand closely.

The Dispatch reports that Bjorkstrand could join the Blue Jackets this season, if injuries persist.

Bjorkstrand’s Portland Winterhawks open the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs this weekend against the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The 19-year-old had 63 goals and 118 points in 59 regular season games this season.