Welcome to the “NHL Morning Skate,” a daily collection of the latest news and notes from around the League.
FRIDAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS
* The Stars would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Blues in any fashion.
* The Avalanche would clinch the Central Division title if they defeat the Sharks in any fashion AND the Blues lose to the Stars in regulation.
OTHER SCENARIOS TONIGHT
* The Avalanche could leapfrog the Ducks for the top record in the Western Conference.
* The Blues could leapfrog the Avalanche for first place in the Central Division. They also could leapfrog the Ducks for the top record in the Western Conference.
* The Lightning could leapfrog the Canadiens for the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division.
* The Blue Jackets could leapfrog the Flyers for the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division.
* The Red Wings could leapfrog the Blue Jackets for the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
TWO MORE PLAYOFF SEEDS LOCKED
* By virtue of their win and the Flyers’ loss in regulation, the Rangers clinched the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in the first round. They will face either the Flyers or the Blue Jackets in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
* By virtue of the Avalanche’s win, the Blackhawks clinched the No. 3 seed in the Central Division. They will face either the Avalanche or Blues in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
PLAYOFF GUIDE NOW ONLINE
The 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Information Guide, featuring year-by-year scores, all-time standings and team-by-team postseason histories, is now available on the NHL’s Media site. The guide also includes team and individual playoff records, a history of overtime games and information on the new postseason format.
The guide will be updated when the first-round matchups and 16 teams qualifying for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs are determined.
SNEAK PEEK AT FRIDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Chicago @ Washington, 7:00 p.m., NBCSN, CSN-CH, CSN-DC
Carolina @ Detroit, 7:30 p.m., RDS, FS-CR, FS-D+
Columbus @ Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m., FS-O, FS-F
NY Islanders @ New Jersey, 7:30 p.m., MSG PLUS 2, MSG PLUS
St. Louis @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., FS-MW, FS-SW
Winnipeg @ Calgary, 9:00 p.m., TSN-JETS, SNET-W
Colorado @ San Jose, 10:00 p.m., NBCSN, ALT, CSN-CA+
STARS TRY TO LOCK UP FINAL POSTSEASON BERTH
The Stars (39-30-11, 89 points) will try to lock up the final berth for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they play host to the Blues (52-21-7, 111 points) at American Airlines Center. Currently two points ahead of Phoenix (36-29-15, 87 points) for the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, Dallas would clinch a postseason berth with a victory in any fashion. The Stars and Blues are meeting for the fifth and final time in 2013-14; both clubs are 2-1-1 in their first four matchups, but Dallas won their most recent game March 29 by a 4-2 decision. Overall, the Stars have won five of their last eight, while the Blues are on a season-long, four-game losing streak.
BLUE JACKETS, LIGHTNING BATTLE FOR PLAYOFF POSITIONING
The Blue Jackets (42-31-7, 91 points) visit the Lightning (44-27-9, 97 points) at Tampa Bay Times Forum in a battle for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference. With a win, Columbus would leapfrog idle Philadelphia (41-30-9, 91 points) for the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division; a loss and they could fall below Detroit (38-27-15, 91 points) and into the final Wild Card spot in the East. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay could leapfrog idle Montreal (45-28-8, 98 points) for the No. 2 seed, and home-ice advantage, in the Atlantic Division. These clubs are facing off for the third and final time in 2013-14; the Blue Jackets have won their first two matchups, but the Lightning are 6-1-0 in their seven all-time meetings at Tampa Bay Times Forum, including four consecutive victories.
(Home Team in Caps)
NY RANGERS 2, Buffalo 1
Washington 5, CAROLINA 2
NY Islanders 2, MONTREAL 0
OTTAWA 2, New Jersey 1 (SO)
TAMPA BAY 4, Philadelphia 2
FLORIDA 4, Toronto 2
NASHVILLE 2, Phoenix 0
MINNESOTA 4, St. Louis 2
WINNIPEG 2, Boston 1 (SO)
Los Angeles 3, EDMONTON 0
Colorado 4, VANCOUVER 2
BARRIE HELPS AVALANCHE TAKE OVER FIRST IN CENTRAL
Tyson Barrie scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to help the Avalanche improve to 8-0-1 in their last nine games, their longest point streak since Oct. 10-28, 2009 (8-0-2).
* With the win, the Avalanche (52-21-7, 111 points) leapfrogged the Blues (52-21-7, 111 points), who lost in regulation, for first place in the Central Division. Both teams have 111 points, but Colorado owns the ROW tiebreaker (COL: 47, STL: 43).
* The Avalanche matched a franchise record with their 52nd victory of the season, last accomplished in 2000-01, when they won their most recent Stanley Cup (52-16-14).
* Barrie scored his 13th goal of the season and fifth game-winner. His five game-winning goals are tied for third among defensemen (one behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson andMatt Niskanen) and are the most by an Avalanche blueliner since Derek Morris tallied seven in 2002-03.
* Semyon Varlamov made 38 saves to pick up his League-leading 41st win of the season, breaking Patrick Roy’s franchise record (2000-01: 40-13-7). Varlamov improved to 8-1-1 when facing 40 or more shots this season; he also improved to 31-4-3 when facing 30 or more shots.
* Paul Stastny (2-0—2) recorded his third multi-goal game of the season and now has 5-7—12 in his past nine contests.
RINNE, PREDATORS DEAL BLOW TO COYOTES’ PLAYOFF HOPES
Pekka Rinne stopped all 29 shots he faced to pick up his 32nd career shutout and help the Predators improve to 4-0-1 in their past five games.
* With the loss, the Coyotes (36-29-15, 87 points) remained two points behind the Stars (39-30-11, 89 points) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have two games remaining, including a head-to-head matchup in the 2013-14 regular-season finale Sunday at Jobing.com Arena.
* Rinne earned his 162nd career victory, all with the Predators, to surpass Tomas Vokoun for the most wins in franchise history. He has a 1.30 goals-against average and .955 save percentage over his past three starts (2-0-1).
* Craig Smith and Patric Hornqvist both scored their 21st goals of the season, tyingShea Weber for the team lead. Smith recorded his fourth game-winner of the season (77 GP); he had one such goal in 116 career contests entering 2013-14. Hornqvist now has 50 points this season, one off his career high set in 2009-10 (30-21—51).
JOHNSON HELPS LIGHTNING EDGE FLYERS . . .
Tyler Johnson (1-1—2) set a Lightning rookie record with his 24th goal of 2013-14, helping the Lightning sweep their three-game season series versus the Flyers and improve to 7-0-1 in their last eight games against Philadelphia at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
* With the win, the Lightning (44-27-9, 97 points) moved within one point of the Canadiens (45-28-8, 98 points), who lost in regulation, for the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay also holds one game in hand.
* Johnson broke Steven Stamkos’ franchise record of 23 goals during his rookie campaign in 2008-09. Fellow first-year player Ondrej Palat has 22 goals this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Johnson and Palat’s combined 46 goals are the most by rookie teammates since 2006-07, when Evgeni Malkin (33) and Jordan Staal(29) combined for 62 goals for the Penguins.
* Overall, eight Tampa Bay rookies have combined for 71 goals this season. Elias says that is the most by one team since 2005-06, when Pittsburgh received 94 goals from first-year players.
* Johnson tied Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon for the most goals by a rookie this season. He also sits third in assists (26) and points (50), while Palat ranks second in those categories (22-36—58).
* Palat posted an assist and +2 rating to extend his point streak to five games (3-4—7). He leads all rookies with a +32 rating this season; the only Lightning player to finish a season with a higher plus/minus rating was Martin St. Louis in 2003-04 (+35).
* Stamkos collected 1-1—2, including his 25th goal of the season, and now has 11-6—17 in his past 15 games.
. . . NASH, RANGERS SECURE HOME-ICE ADVANTAGE
Rick Nash scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:42 remaining in regulation to lift the Rangers to their fourth victory in their past six games (4-1-1).
* With the win, combined with the Flyers’ loss in regulation, the Rangers (45-31-5, 95 points) secured the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
* The Rangers improved to 9-2-1 in their last 12 games, including a 4-1-0 mark in their final five regular-season contests at Madison Square Garden. They reached the 45-win milestone for the seventh time in franchise history and second time in the past three seasons.
* Nash recorded his team-leading ninth game-winning goal of the season and second in the final two minutes of regulation (also, Jan. 10 vs. DAL: 18:02 of 3rd period).
* Benoit Pouliot scored his 15th goal of the season to extend his point streak to seven games (3-4—7), matching a career long set earlier in 2013-14 (Dec. 15-29: 4-3—7).
* Mats Zuccarello posted his 40th assist of the season to stretch his point streak to six games (4-5—9). The Rangers improved to 31-8-3 when he records at least one point this season.
* The Rangers improved to 8-2-0 in their last 10 meetings with the Sabres, including their first series sweep since 2007-08.
MINNESOTA NATIVE LEADS WILD IN TEAM DEBUT
Making his team debut, John Curry, a native of Shorewood, Minn., stopped a career-high 43 shots to help the Wild extend their point streak to seven games (6-0-1), including four consecutive victories.
* The Wild improved to 43-26-12 this season; their 98 points are tied for the second-most in franchise history (2007-08: 44-28-10).
* The Wild also improved to 26-9-5 this season at Xcel Energy Center, including a 10-2-3 mark in their past 15; their 26 home victories rank second in franchise history to the 2006-07 squad (29-7-5).
* Curry made his first NHL appearance since Jan. 16, 2010, and recorded his first win since Dec. 11, 2008, both with the Penguins. He became the first Minnesotan to play in net for the Wild.
* Mikko Koivu skated in his 600th NHL game, all with the Wild. He is the franchise leader in assists (321) and points (451), and also ranks second in goals (130) and games played.
* Christian Folin made his NHL debut, picking up an assist and logging a +3 rating. He signed an entry-level contract with the Wild March 31 after finishing his sophomore season at UMass Lowell.
RUPP TO HAVE HEARING WITH DEPARTMENT OF PLAYER SAFETY
Wild forward Mike Rupp will have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety today for a hit on Blues forward T.J. Oshie Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
At 10:30 of the second period, Rupp was assessed a match penalty for hitting Oshie near the blue line in the Minnesota defensive zone. Oshie left the game and did not return.
The following grounds are being considered for supplemental discipline: illegal check to the head/interference. However, the Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction upon review.
Despite their shootout loss, the Bruins (53-18-9, 115 points) moved three points ahead of the idle Ducks (52-20-8, 112 points) in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy . . . Martin Jones (17 saves) posted his fourth career shutout to help the Kings snap a three-game skid . . . Nick Bjugstad (2-1—3) recorded his first career multi-goal game and first career three-point game to help the Panthers win their season series against the Maple Leafs (3-1-0) . . . The line of Eric Fehr (1-2—3), Jason Chimera (1-2—3) and Joel Ward (1-2—3) combined for nine points for the Capitals . . . Evgeni Nabokov (19 saves) recorded his 59th career shutout and fourth of the season to help the Islanders improve to 15-5-2 in their last 22 road games. He now ranks 17th in NHL history, and third among active goaltenders, in career shutouts . . . Robin Lehner made 38 saves and denied all four shootout attempts he faced to lead the Senators to their third consecutive victory . . . The Hurricanes (Jiri Tlusty) scored their 11th shorthanded goal of the season, second in the NHL to the Flames (12) . . . Jets forward Blake Wheelercollected his 300th NHL point . . . Kings forward Anze Kopitar scored his 200th career goal . . . Coyotes forward Martin Erat played in his 800th NHL game . . . Lightning forward Teddy Purcell skated in his 400th career game . . . Maple Leafs goaltenderDrew MacIntyre made 33 saves in his first NHL start . . . The Maple Leafs namedBrendan Shanahan their new president and alternate governor, effective immediately. A 2013 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Shanahan compiled 656-698—1,354 in 1,524 NHL games.
Source: NHL Media