Welcome to the “NHL Morning Skate,” a daily collection of the latest news and notes from around the League.
WEDNESDAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS
* The Red Wings would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they get at least one point against the Penguins.
* The Blue Jackets would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Stars in any fashion.
* The Ducks would clinch the Pacific Division title if they defeat the Sharks in any fashion. That result also would clinch a first-round matchup between the Sharks and Kings, with the Sharks having home-ice advantage.
* A loss by the Red Wings in any fashion would clinch a first-round matchup between the Canadiens and Lightning, with home-ice advantage to be determined.
OTHER SCENARIOS TONIGHT
* The Blue Jackets could leapfrog the Red Wings for the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
* The Sharks could move within one point of the Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division.
* The Blackhawks could move within two points of the Avalanche for the No. 2 seed in the Central Division.
OVECHKIN REACHES 50-GOAL MILESTONE
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin reached the 50-goal milestone Tuesday for the fifth time in his nine NHL seasons. According to ESPN, he is only the fifth player in League history to post at least five 50-goal seasons in his first nine campaigns, joining Mike Bossy (9 in 9), Wayne Gretzky (8), Guy Lafleur (6) and Brett Hull (5).
* Ovechkin also recorded his League-leading 23rd power-play goal of the season, breaking the franchise record of 22 set by Peter Bondra in 2000-01 and matched by Ovechkin in 2007-08. It is the most power-play goals by any player in one season sinceDany Heatley scored an equal amount for the Senators in 2005-06.
QUICK SURPRISES FAN ON “ELLEN”
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick surprised 14-year-old piano prodigy Daniel Clarke Bouchard on Tuesday’s episode of “Ellen.” Click here to watch the clip.
NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING RELEASES FINAL PLAYER RANKINGS
The NHL Central Scouting Bureau named center Samuel Bennett of the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs and right wing Kasperi Kapanen of Finland’s Kalpa the top eligible skaters from North America and Europe, respectively, for the 2014 NHL Draft. See below for the full rankings:
SNEAK PEEK AT WEDNESDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Montreal @ Chicago, 7:30 p.m., TSN, RDS, CSN-CH
Detroit @ Pittsburgh, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2
Columbus @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., FS-O, FS-SW
Los Angeles @ Calgary, 10:00 p.m., TSN, KCOP-13
San Jose @ Anaheim, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2
“WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY” FEATURES DOUBLEHEADER
NBCSN’s “Wednesday Night Rivalry” telecast features a doubleheader:
First, the Red Wings (38-27-14, 90 points) visit the Penguins (50-24-5, 105 points) at CONSOL Energy Center in a potential playoff preview. Currently the first Wild Card in the Eastern Conference, Detroit would face Pittsburgh in the first round of the postseason based on today’s standings. The clubs are meeting for the third and final time in the regular season after splitting their first two matchups – a 4-1 victory by the Penguins Dec. 14 and a 5-4 overtime win by the Red Wings March 20. Detroit is making its first trip to Pittsburgh since Dec. 13, 2011, a 4-1 victory.
Following that game, the Ducks (51-20-8, 110 points) play host to the Sharks (49-21-9, 107 points) at Honda Center in a battle for the Pacific Division crown. A win by Anaheim would give the team its third division title in franchise history, while a victory by San Jose could move the club within one point of first place. The teams are facing off for the fifth and final time in 2013-14; the Sharks lead the season series with a 3-1-0 record (ANA: 1-2-1), including a 3-2 triumph in their most recent meeting March 20.
REMINDER: BLUE JACKETS-STARS GAME
Tonight’s game between the Blue Jackets and Stars, NHL Game No. 971, will be played for a full 60 minutes of regulation time, plus any potential overtime and shootout. The contest, which was originally scheduled for March 10 but was halted at 6:23 of the first period due to a medical emergency involving Stars forward Rich Peverley, will begin with Columbus ahead 1-0 – the score at the time play was stopped. A goal will be credited to Nathan Horton, with assists to Matt Calvert and James Wisniewski. All other statistics from March 10 are expunged.
(Home Team in Caps)
Detroit 4, BUFFALO 2
Ottawa 4, NY ISLANDERS 1
NY RANGERS 4, Carolina 1
COLUMBUS 4, Phoenix 3 (OT)
TAMPA BAY 3, Toronto 0
Philadelphia 5, FLORIDA 2
Washington 4, ST. LOUIS 1
MINNESOTA 4, Boston 3 (SO)
DALLAS 3, Nashville 2 (SO)
Colorado 4, EDMONTON 1
GIROUX, LECAVALIER HELP FLYERS CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH
The Flyers scored four consecutive second-period goals, including two from Claude Giroux, to pick up their second straight victory and clinch their 17th playoff berth in the past 19 seasons.
* With the win, the Flyers (41-29-9, 91 points) maintained a two-point lead over the Blue Jackets (41-31-7, 89 points) for the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division. They also remained two points behind the Rangers (44-31-5, 93 points) for the No. 2 seed in the division.
* Giroux recorded his team-leading 26th and 27th goals of the season, one off his career high set in 2011-12. He also picked up his team-leading seventh game-winning goal. The Flyers improved to 20-2-1 when Giroux scores this season.
* Giroux posted seven assists in the opening 15 games of 2013-14 before scoring his first goal Nov. 9. He has 27-47—74 in 64 games since then, which ranks second in the NHL to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (28-51—79), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
* Vincent Lecavalier potted his 20th goal of the season, reaching the milestone for the 13th time in his NHL career. The Flyers now have a League-leading seven 20-goal scorers, their most in one season since 1989-90.
WILD RALLY TO LOCK UP FIRST WILD CARD IN WEST
Ryan Suter scored the tying goal with 1:05 remaining in regulation and Mikko Koivutallied the lone goal in the shootout to help the Wild extend their point streak to six games (5-0-1), including three consecutive victories.
* The Wild clinched their fifth playoff berth in franchise history by virtue of the Coyotes’ loss. They then locked up the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with the victory.
* Jason Pominville (2-1—3) recorded his 28th career three-point game and second of the season (also Nov. 1: 2-1—3 vs. MTL). He leads the Wild with 29 goals and 57 points in 80 games.
* Koivu posted his 15th career shootout-deciding goal, tied for the most among active skaters with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Islanders forward Frans Nielsen. His 36 career shootout goals (36-for-84, 42.9%) rank third among active skaters behind Panthers forward Brad Boyes and teammate Zach Parise, both of whom have 37.
* Koivu also collected two assists and now has 3-13—16 in 12 games since March 18, the most assists and points of any NHL player. The Wild improved to 12-1-0 when he records two or more points this season.
* Ilya Bryzgalov made 21 saves, and denied all three shootout attempts he faced, to improve to 9-0-5 in his last 14 decisions, including a 7-0-3 mark with a 1.78 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and three shutouts in 11 appearances with the Wild.
* The Wild improved to 11-2-1 all-time versus the Bruins, including a 5-1-1 mark at Xcel Energy Center.
STARS EDGE PREDATORS, WIDEN WILD CARD LEAD . . .
Tyler Seguin scored the decisive goal in the fourth round of the shootout to help the Stars improve to 5-2-0 in their past seven games.
* With the win, the Stars (39-29-11, 89 points) moved two points ahead of the Coyotes (36-28-15, 87 points), who lost in overtime, for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. They will face off in the final game of the 2013-14 regular season Sunday at Jobing.com Arena.
* Seguin improved to 15-for-34 (44.1%) all-time in shootouts, with six game-deciding goals.
* Jamie Benn scored his 34th goal of the season, eight more than his previous best set in 2011-12. He ranks second on the Stars with a career-high 76 points this season, six behind Seguin.
* Alex Goligoski added his sixth goal of 2013-14, finishing the season series against the Predators with 1-6—7 in five games.
* Kari Lehtonen made 27 saves, and denied 3-of-4 shootout attempts, to pick up his sixth consecutive victory at American Airlines Center. He improved to 17-8-6 with a 2.14 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and two shutouts in 33 home appearances this season.
* The Stars improved to 9-1-2, including four consecutive victories, in their last 12 home games dating to Jan. 30. They also improved to 22-7-1 in 30 all-time meetings with the Predators at American Airlines Center.
. . . COYOTES FORCE OVERTIME, BUT JOHANSEN LIFTS BLUE JACKETS
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the game-tying goal with 14.6 seconds remaining in regulation, but Ryan Johansen potted the decisive marker 3:33 into overtime to lift the Blue Jackets to their fourth victory in their past six games (4-1-1).
* With the win, the Blue Jackets (41-31-7, 89 points) moved four points ahead of the Capitals (36-30-13, 85 points) for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
* The Blue Jackets tied a franchise record with their 41st victory of the season, a mark originally established in 2008-09 (41-31-10, 92 points).
* Johansen (1-1—2) scored his team-leading 32nd goal of the season. He also recorded his fourth game-winning goal of 2013-14, including his second in overtime (also March 29 at CAR).
* Boone Jenner tallied his 15th goal of the season to move within two of Rick Nash’s franchise record for goals by a rookie (17 in 2002-03).
* The Blue Jackets picked up their fifth consecutive victory over the Coyotes at Nationwide Arena. They also improved to 13-6-2 in their last 21 home games overall.
A LOOK AT THE EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF RACE
The Rangers, Red Wings and Capitals also picked up key victories Tuesday as they battle for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference:
* Martin St. Louis (0-3—3), Brad Richards (2-0—2), Derek Stepan (1-1—2) andAnton Stralman (0-2—2) each recorded multi-point games to lead the Rangers to their 11th victory in their last 12 games versus the Hurricanes. Richards reached the 20-goal milestone for the 10th time in his NHL career, while Benoit Pouliot (2-4—6) and Mats Zuccarello (4-4—8) extended their point streaks to six and five games, respectively. With the win, the Rangers (44-31-5, 93 points) maintained a two-point lead over the Flyers (41-29-9, 91 points) for the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division.
* Jimmy Howard made 25 saves to help the Red Wings pick up their 12th victory their last 14 meetings with the Sabres (12-1-1). Howard improved to 6-0-0 with a 1.39 goals-against average, .946 save percentage and one shutout in seven career appearances versus Buffalo. Mike Babcock picked up his 414th victory behind the Detroit bench, moving past Jack Adams for sole possession of first place in franchise history. With the win, the Red Wings (38-27-14, 90 points) maintained a one-point lead over the Blue Jackets (41-31-7, 89 points) for the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
* Alex Ovechkin (1-2—3) scored his League-leading 50th goal of the season andNicklas Backstrom (2-0—2) added his second multi-goal game of 2013-14 to lead the Capitals to their second straight victory. Making their first visit to St. Louis since Dec. 1, 2010, the Capitals improved to 6-2-1 in their last nine overall meetings with the Blues. With the win, the Capitals (36-30-13, 85 points) remained four points behind the Blue Jackets (41-31-7, 89 points) for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
AVALANCHE BURY OILERS, MOVE WITHIN TWO OF BLUES
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 22 saves to help the Avalanche extend their point streak to a season-long eight games (7-0-1).
* With the win, the Avalanche (51-21-7, 109 points) moved within two points of the Blues (52-20-7, 111 points), who lost in regulation, for first place in the Central Division.
* The Avalanche picked up their 25th road victory of the season, breaking the old franchise record set in 1992-93 and equaled in 2000-01. They improved to 14-4-1 in their last 19 games as visitors.
* The Avalanche also earned their 51st overall victory of the season, moving within one of the club record established in 2000-01 (52-16-14), when they won their most recent Stanley Cup.
* Giguere improved to 11-6-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average, .912 save percentage and two shutouts in 20 appearances this season.
* Erik Johnson posted his second game-winning goal in his past 19 outings. He had one game-winner in his prior 217 contests dating to Jan. 20, 2011.
PALAT, LINDBACK POWER LIGHTNING
Ondrej Palat (2-0—2) recorded his third multi-goal game of the season and Anders Lindback stopped all 25 shots he faced in relief of Ben Bishop to help the Lightning snap a two-game skid.
* With the win, the Lightning (43-27-9, 95 points) moved within two points of the idle Canadiens (45-27-7, 97 points) for the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division.
* Palat extended his point streak to four games (3-3—6). He now has 22 goals this season, one off the franchise record for a rookie set by Steven Stamkos in 2008-09 and equaled by Tyler Johnson this season.
DID YOU KNOW?
Including Tuesday, there have been 71 game-tying goals scored in the final two minutes of regulation this season.
Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron scored his 29th goal of the season to extend his point streak to 12 games (10-6—16) . . . Senators captain Jason Spezza (2-1—3) posted his sixth game of three or more points this season . . . Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata (20-30—50) reached the 50-point milestone for the third time in his NHL career, while teammate Mikkel Boedker (19-31—50) did so for the first time . . . Predators captainShea Weber matched career highs with his 32nd assist and 53rd point of the season . . . Red Wings forward Drew Miller recorded his 100th NHL point . . . Capitals defenseman John Carlson collected his 100th career assist . . . The Kings signed forward Trevor Lewis to a two-year contract extension . . . The Canucks relieved Mike Gillis of his duties as president and general manager . . . Photographer Bruce Bennettworked the 5,000th hockey game of his career.
Source: NHL Media