Tuesday's action concluded with the 8th and final Western Conference playoff spot clinched by the Colorado Avalanche. After the Flames fell 2-1 to the Sharks, Avalanche rookie forward Matt Duchene scored the only goal in the shootout on Roberto Luongo to seal the deal for his team. How about the huge confidence boost for this kid? At 19 years old, with a chance for his team to come back from the worse point total in the Western Conference a season ago, he faces Roberto Luongo of all goalies, and buries with a spectacular deke and perfect puck placement to the top corner. Now with seeding up for grabs, head coach Joe Sacco has to think about resting his number one goaltender, Craig Anderson. The Avs have three games left on their schedule including their final regular season game at home Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings, which could determine who they play in the first round.
The Eastern Conference saw all three Rocket Richard candidates score goals which put Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin in a tie for first place with 48 goals each, and Steven Stamkos sits one goal behind at 47. Crosby’s Penguins suffered a 6-3 loss at home against Ovechkin’s Capitals and Stamkos’ Lightning were shelled on home ice 8-5 by the Carolina Hurricanes. More to come on the race for the Rocket.
As far as Tuesday’s impact on the Eastern Conference playoff picture: the Flyers jumped over idle Boston into the 7th seed with 86 points and the Rangers failed to gain two points against the Sabres, and currently sit on the outside with 82 points. The Rangers are back in action tonight in a crucial game against the Maple Leafs, a win would keep them in 9th place but would ensure a playoff birth if they can sweep the Flyers in their home and home series Friday and Sunday. Atlanta suffered a crippling loss against the Devils last night which all but knocks them out of the playoff hunt – any points by Boston their 3 remaining games would mathematically eliminate the Thrashers from playoff contention.
Check out the Rangers vs Maple Leafs tonight on Versus at 7pm et.