Friday was light as there will be plenty of action this weekend instead with the NHL wrapping up its regular season schedule, but there was still one major game last night. St. Louis is in a desperate fight for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and they picked up a critical two points with their 4-1 win over Chicago.
With that, St. Louis has a 44-31-6 record, which puts them one point ahead of Colorado. The Avalanche and Blues will face each other in their season finale on Saturday to determine who will get that final playoff spot. What winning on Friday did was put the Blues in a far better position going into that game. Now even if the Avalanche win in overtime or a shootout, the Blues would be tied with them in points and they control the tiebreaker. In other words, anything short of an Avalanche win in regulation would mean that St. Louis clinches a playoff berth over them.
It’s been an interesting couple years for the Blues. Most teams when they’re in the running for a playoff spot are very reluctant to trade key players, even if they’re on the last year of their contract and might part ways with the team over the summer. The Blues though have been willing to make those tough trades, first by trading Kevin Shattenkirk and Pheonix Copley to the Capitals in February 2017 in exchange for forward prospect Zach Sanford and a 2017 first round pick (Morgan Frost). Then they traded Paul Stastny to Winnipeg in February 2018 in exchange for prospect Erik Foley, a 2018 first round pick, and a 2020 conditional fourth round pick.
Those extra first rounders have given the Blues some flexibility to restock on the fly without going through a full rebuild. Despite trading away Shattenkirk, they still got to the second round last year and after trading Stastny, they have a strong chance to clinch a playoff berth for the seventh consecutive season.
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PITTSBURGH 4 OTTAWA 0
This was the Penguins final game of the season, making them the first team to wrap up their schedule. Everyone else plays in at least one game this weekend. They concluded with a 47-29-6 record, which is good enough to secure second place in the Metropolitan Division and therefore have home ice advantage in the first round. This is also their third straight campaign of at least 100 points, though it is a step down from their record in either of their previous two seasons.
Casey DeSmith turned aside 35 saves to secure the shutout. He improved to 6-4-1 with a 2.40 GAA and .921 save percentage in 14 contests.
Alexandre Burrows tied for the Senators-high in shots with five. He has six goals on 89 shots this season for a success rate of 6.7%.
Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal and registered an assist. He’s up to 29 goals and 89 points in 82 games.
Phil Kessel also had a goal and an assist. That gives him 34 goals and 92 points in 82 games.
Craig Anderson turned aside 19 of 23 shots. He has a 23-25-6 record, 3.32 GAA, and .898 save percentage in 58 games.
TAMPA BAY 7 BUFFALO 5
The Sabres’ offense was spread out, but the most notable goal scorer was Alexander Nylander. It was the 20-year-old’s first career goal in six games.
Yanni Gourde scored a goal and recorded two assists for Tampa Bay. He has 25 markers and 64 points in 81 games this season.
Alex Killorn assisted on three of the Lightning’s seven goals. That gives him 15 goals and 47 points in 81 games.
Chad Johnson surrendered six goals on 33 shots. He’s now allowed at least three goals in each of his last five games.
Andrei Vasilevskiy didn’t fare much better, stopping 27 of 32 Sabres shots. He has a 44-17-3 record, 2.62 GAA, and .920 save percentage in 65 games.
ST. LOUIS 4 CHICAGO 1
Patrik Berglund came through for the Blues last night with a hat trick. He’s up to 17 goals and 25 points in 56 games.
Jaden Schwartz netted St. Louis’ other goal. It was his 23rd marker and 57th point in 61 contests.
Carter Hutton kicked out 19 of 20 Blackhawks shots. He has a 17-7-3 record, 2.09 GAA, and .931 save percentage in 32 games.
Erik Gustafsson accounted for Chicago’s only goal. He has five goals and 16 points in 34 games.
Jean-Francois Berube turned aside 31 of 34 shots Friday night. He’s 3-6-1 with a 3.78 GAA and .894 save percentage in 13 contests.
ANAHEIM 5 DALLAS 3
Jamie Benn scored a goal and registered an assist for the Stars. He has 33 goals and 76 points in 81 games.
Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg found the back of the net and contributed two assists. That gives him 17 goals and 40 points in 76 games.
Josh Manson scored the game-winning goal and registered an assist. He’s up to seven goals and 36 points in 79 games.
Ryan Miller stopped 23 of 26 Stars shots. He has a 11-6-6 record, 2.46 GAA, and .925 save percentage in 27 contests.
Mike McKenna saved 28 of 33 shots in his first start of the campaign. He has a 1-1-0 record, 2.97 GAA, and .900 save percentage in two contests.