NHL Scores: Toronto's loss is Devils' gain as playoff race heats up

Bruce Bennett

Wild Card races are coming down to the wire in both conferences.

The fact that the New Jersey Devils are on the cusp of claiming the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is proof of how far the Toronto Maple Leafs have fallen.

The two teams continued their trends on Saturday. Without anything to play for, the Winnipeg Jets still managed to walk into the Air Canada Centre and trounce the Maple Leafs. Blake Wheeler was a force with two points and four shots, and Ondrej Pavelec rebounded after a rough start to keep the Leafs at bay while his team peppered Toronto with shots. Poor puck possession and further injury to Joffrey Lupul sunk the Leafs even lower.

Toronto's loss was New Jersey's gain. Cory Schneider played a solid game between the pipes against Carolina, holding down the fort in the third period after Travis Zajac gave New Jersey the lead with a second period goal. The 3-1 win means New Jersey could find itself in the playoffs while the Leafs watch from the sidelines. At midseason, that endgame didn't seem like a possibility. But here we are.

All the NHL Scores

Bruins 5, Flyers 2

Avalanche 4, Blues 0

Capitals 4, Islanders 3 (SO)

Jets 4, Maple Leafs 2

Canadiens 5, Red Wings 3

Stars 5, Lightning 2

Senators 3, Rangers 2

Devils 3, Hurricanes 1

Wild 4, Penguins 0

Canucks 2, Kings 1

Predators 3, Sharks 0

Three Things We Learned

1. The big guns are getting it done for Dallas

Dallas finds itself in wonderful position as the final games of the season approach, sitting in the final wild card spot with two games in hand on Phoenix. It's a luxury they wouldn't have if Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin weren't continuing to tear up opponents every night. Benn has five goals and ten points in his last nine games, while Seguin has ten goals and 22 points in his last 15 games.

2. The Devils are still alive

Left for dead just a couple of weeks ago, the New Jersey Devils are within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. After their 3-1 win over Carolina on Saturday, the Devils have earned points in their last seven games and trail Columbus by one point for the last playoff berth.

3. Ilya Bryzgalov is resurgent in Minnesota

The much-maligned former Flyers goaltender shut out the Penguins with 20 saves on Saturday, continuing a strong run of form since joining the Wild before the trade deadline. He's 5-0-3 with a 1.77 GAA and a .920 SV%

Impact Moment

The one play or moment from Sunday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.

Evander Kane's days in Winnipeg might be numbered. The Jets forward's clashes with former coach Claude Noel were well-publicized, but those stories died down when Noel was canned and Paul Maurice was hired. But as Winnipeg's playoff chances faded away, apparently so did Kane's relationship with Maurice. Kane was a healthy scratch when Winnipeg played in Toronto on Sunday.

Harsh words from Maurice, but they set up what should be fascinating drama this summer.

Stat of the Night

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will go down as one of the NHL's best rookies after his two-point performance on Saturday. He's now just the tenth 18-year-old to ever register 60 points in a season.

The other nine names on the list? Well, you might have heard of some of them.

Totals
Rk Player Season Age Tm Pos GP G A PTS
1 Dale Hawerchuk* 1981-82 18 WIN C 80 45 58 103
2 Sidney Crosby 2005-06 18 PIT C 81 39 63 102
3 Steve Yzerman* 1983-84 18 DET C 80 39 48 87
4 Jimmy Carson 1986-87 18 LAK C 80 37 42 79
5 Ron Francis* 1981-82 18 HAR C 59 25 43 68
6 Bob Carpenter 1981-82 18 WSH LW 80 32 35 67
7 Phil Housley 1982-83 18 BUF D 77 19 47 66
8 Brian Bellows 1982-83 18 MNS RW 78 35 30 65
9 Jeff Skinner 2010-11 18 CAR RW 82 31 32 63
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/5/2014.

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