NHL Playoff Picture: Dallas Stars Clinch Playoff Spot

DALLAS, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Mats Zuccarello #36 of the Dallas Stars in the third period at American Airlines Center on April 02, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

After the games played on Tuesday, April 2 in the National Hockey League, two divisional titles and three wildcard spots remain unclaimed, though the playoff picture became a little clearer.

Tuesday Night’s Pertinent Results

Boston Bruins 6, Columbus Blue Jackets 2
Carolina Hurricanes 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1
Colorado Avalanche 6, Edmonton Oilers 2
Dallas Stars 6, Philadelphia Flyers 2
Los Angeles Kings 3, Arizona Coyotes 1
Minnesota Wild 5, Winnipeg Jets 1
Montreal Canadiens 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 2
Nashville Predators 3, Buffalo Sabres 2

Playoff Impact of the Results

In the Eastern Conference, the Bruins’ win and Maple Leafs’ loss means the pending series between those two teams will start out in Boston. The Bruins will enjoy home ice during that opening-round series. By virtue of their win over Toronto and Columbus’ loss to Boston, Carolina is now in line for the first wildcard, holding a one-point advantage with two games to play. Columbus’ loss also helped out Montreal, whose win put the Canadiens in a tie with the Blue Jackets for the second wildcard spot. Columbus needs only win its two remaining games to clinch.

In the Western Conference, Dallas’ win means the Stars will be the second wildcard at worst, clinching a playoff spot. The Edmonton loss officially eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild, who needed Colorado to lose to stay alive. The Avalanche should feel more comfortable not only because of that win but Arizona’s loss as well, putting the Coyotes on the verge of elimination and Colorado on the verge of clinching. Arizona trails the Avalanche by four points with two games left. In the Central division, the Nashville win and Winnipeg loss means the two teams are tied. Winnipeg has the upper hand in the last two games, as it controls its own destiny by virtue of winning the season series against the Predators.

What Could be Decided in Wednesday’s Games

Nothing could be decided, but the Central Division race could get more interesting. On the NHL slate for Wednesday, April 3 are only three games, only one of which really has any playoff implications. Calgary has already clinched the top spot in the Western Conference. Anaheim, Ottawa and the Rangers have already been eliminated.

The 8 p.m. ET puck drop between the Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues in Chicago can propel the Blues into a three-way tie for the Central Division lead if they can get two points. Anything less than a regulation/overtime win by St. Louis wouldn’t eliminate the Blues from winning the Central but it would put St. Louis in need of much more help over the season’s final two games in order to do so.

Current Playoff Picture Going Into Play on Wednesday

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference

Calgary Flames vs. Colorado Avalanche
Winnipeg Jets vs. Dallas Stars
San Jose Sharks vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

The final days of the NHL regular season for the 2018-19 season should be as exciting as any other, with plenty yet to be determined before the regular season comes to an end.

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