ISLANDERS, LIGHTNING STAY ALIVE IN RACE FOR FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT — WATCH OUT LEAFS!
The Islanders (39-29-12, 90 points) and Lightning (40-30-10, 90 points) earned victories in must-win games to stay in the race for the 16th and final berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tampa Bay’s triumph came against Toronto (39-26-15, 93 points), who holds a three-point lead over both clubs for the second Eastern Conference Wild Card spot:
Brock Nelson (GWG) scored just 87 seconds into the contest and Jaroslav Halak denied all 29 shots he faced as the Islanders extended their win streak to four games. Halak registered his second shutout of the season to extend his personal win streak to five games and improve to 5-1-0 since rejoining the Islanders on March 24 (1.51 GAA, .949 SV%, 1 SO).
Nikita Kucherov (GWG) scored his 39th goal of the season (tied for second in the NHL) to help the Lightning improved to 6-1-1 in their past eight games overall and finish their season series against Toronto with a 2-1-1 record (TOR: 2-2-0). Victor Hedman tallied 0-3—3 to take the League lead for assists among defensemen and become the first blueliner in Lightning history to reach the 70-point mark in a season (15-55—70).
SENATORS CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH IN POTENTIAL FIRST ROUND PREVIEW
Alexandre Burrows, acquired via trade on Feb. 27, scored the tying goal and Craig Anderson made 28 saves through overtime to help the Senators clinch a playoff berth for the 16th time in franchise history. At 43-27-10 (96 points), the Senators moved one point ahead of the Bruins (44-30-7, 95 points) for second place in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa holds a game in hand on Boston – a potential First Round opponent – and swept the season series for the first time in franchise history (OTT: 4-0-0, BOS: 0-3-1).
All of Ottawa’s 16 playoff appearances have come in the past 20 seasons. The Red Wings (19) and Sharks (17) are the only teams that have qualified for the postseason more times in that span.
Remaining Games for Teams in Playoff Contention
Toronto: Saturday vs. PIT and Sunday vs. CBJ
NY Islanders: Saturday at NJD and Sunday vs. OTT
Tampa Bay: Friday at MTL and Sunday vs. BUF
Bryan Little (1-3—4) matched a career high for points in a game and Eric Comrie made 35 saves while making his NHL debut as the Jets extended their win streak to six games, their longest such run since relocating to Winnipeg in 2011-12 . . . San Jose’s Brent Burns, who leads NHL blueliners with 29-46—75 (81 GP), matched his own single-season franchise record for points by a defenseman (27-48—75 in 2015-16). He is the first defenseman to record back-to-back 75-point seasons since Brian Leetch achieved the feat with the Rangers in 1995-96 and 1996-97 . . . Oilers goaltender Cam Talbotrecorded his 41st win to establish a single-season franchise record, surpassing the mark set by Grant Fuhr (40 in 1987-88) . . . Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk became the first goaltender in franchise history to reach 40 wins in a season . . . Oscar Klefbom (0-4—4) became the first Oilers defenseman to record four assists in a game since Chris Pronger(0-4—4) on Dec. 31, 2005 . . . Blake Wheeler (0-1—1) extended his point streak to seven games (3-7—10) . . . Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel (1-1—2) scored for a fourth straight game.
* Information provided via NHL Press Release