ISLANDERS, LIGHTNING GAIN GROUND IN RACE FOR FINAL WILD CARD SPOT
The Islanders (33-25-11, 77 points) and Lightning (34-26-9, 77 points) each secured overtime victories to gain ground in the race for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference:
New York scored twice in a span of 25 seconds to overcome a 2-0 deficit and John Tavares tallied 34 seconds into overtime to propel the Islanders to victory. Tavares scored the ninth regular-season overtime goal of his NHL career (all w/ NYI) to extend his franchise record. The Islanders moved ahead of the Maple Leafs (31-23-14, 76 points) for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Victor Hedman scored at 4:05 of overtime as the Lightning extended their win and point streaks to four and six games (5-0-1), respectively. Hedman scored the third regular-season overtime goal of his NHL career (all w/ TBL) to tie Dan Boyle for the most by a defenseman in franchise history. The Lightning also leapfrogged the Maple Leafs, keeping pace with the Islanders.
The Eastern Conference race is very tight for the final wildcard spot. The Islanders currently hold that with 77 points. The Lightning also have 77 points but lose the tiebreaker. The Toronto Maple Leafs sit at 76 points with one game in hand. On life support are the Florida Panthers (71 pts) and the Philadelphia Flyers (70 pts).
The Oilers (36-24-9, 81 points) matched a season high with seven goals to strengthen their grip on the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and climb within a point of the Ducks (36-23-10, 82 points) for third place in the Pacific Division . . . Joe Pavelski (2-0—2) scored twice for the second straight game to guide the Pacific Division-leading Sharks (42-20-7, 91 points) to victory . . . Thomas Vanek registered a career-high four assists to help the Panthers snap a five-game slide (0-4-1) . . . Lightning goaltenderAndrei Vasilevskiy (31 saves) improved to 6-0-1 in his last seven appearances dating to Feb. 27 (1.38 GAA, .958 SV%) . . . Toronto’s Mike Babcock coached his 1,100th career game as an NHL head coach . . . Sharks forward Joe Thornton (1-5—6) and Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (1-4—5) extended their point streaks to five games . . . Stars forward Jason Spezza (900) and Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (500) appeared in milestone games . . . Tuesday’s game between the Jets and Devils at Prudential Center was postponed due to the severe winter storm impacting the area. The game has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 28.
* Information provided via NHL Press Release