On Tuesday, both finally reached their destination.
With its season on the line and facing a backup goaltender with the worst save percentage in the NHL, the Maple Leafs went out with a whimper, losing 3-0 in Tampa Bay. Trailing by two goals in the third period, Toronto failed to record a shot during the first nine minutes of the period and ended up finishing the third getting outshot and outscored (though, the only goal they gave up was an empty net goal).
Toronto's loss, combined with Columbus' overtime win against Phoenix, eliminated the Maple Leafs from playoff contention thanks in large part to a 20-game stretch that saw them lose 14 and complete one of the most unbelievable collapses in recent NHL memory.
The Flyers, meanwhile, clinched a playoff spot with their 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers after they overcame a disastrous start to the season that saw them go just 4-10-1 over their first 15 games.
All the NHL Scores
Lighting 3, Maple Leafs 0
Flyers 5, Panthers 2
Wild 4, Bruins 3
Three Things We Learned
1. People are excited about the Columbus Blue Jackets
Very excited. The fans, the coaches, the players. Everybody. These are fun times for a team that has known nothing but losing, and the scene in Columbus following their 4-3 overtime win on Tuesday was pretty great to watch.
2. Claude Giroux was right
When the Philadelphia Flyers were 1-7-0 it was pretty much assumed by everybody outside of their locker room that the season was over. It was at that point that their captain, Claude Giroux, promised that they would still end up making the playoffs. He and his teammates made good on that promise on Tuesday and officially clinched a playoff spot. Since that 1-7-0 start, Philadelphia is 40-22-9.
3. Ondrej Palat should get some serious consideration for the Calder Trophy
Colorado Avalanche forward and No. 1 overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon looks like he is going to walk away with the NHL's rookie of the year award, but Tampa Bay's Ondrej Palat, a seventh-round pick in 2011, should give him a run for his money. Palat scored two more goals for the Lightning on Tuesday in their 3-0 win over Toronto and remains in the top-5 in pretty much every major offensive category for rookies, including goals, assists, points, shots and even strength points.
The one play or moment from Tuesday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
Three words: Toronto. Maple. Leafs.
When a team that big, in that city, completes a collapse like that there is really nothing else that is going to get talked about for days. Or weeks. Or months. Years, probably.
But if you did want to talk about something else, the injury to Ben Bishop in Tampa Bay could be a major problem. The Lightning were able to get by on Tuesday with Anders Lindback in net, but that is not the player the Lightning are going to want in net when the playoffs come around.
Stat of the Night
Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season on Tuesday in the Washington Capitals' 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Since Ovechkin entered the league in 2005-06, there have been just 18 50-goal seasons in the NHL. Ovechkin has five of them. Nobody else over that stretch has more than two, while the only other players to record multiple 50-goal seasons are Dany Heatley, Ilya Kovalchuk and Steven Stamkos.
His 50 goals this season also account for 22 percent of the Capitals' goals this season. The rest of his teammates have scored 176.
Post to Post
- The folks at Nucks Misconduct react to the firing of general manager Mike Gillis.
- Have the Minnesota Wild already reached their ceiling?
- Joel Quenneville has quite the roster dilemma on his hands heading into the playoffs.
- Who should sit and who should play in Anaheim?
- The Buffalo Sabres are having a brutal season, but at least Zemgus Girgensons looks like he is going to be a player in the NHL. He scored two goals in a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, and you should really check out his second goal.