Despite beating the Maple Leafs on Thursday, the San Jose Sharks' well-documented decline will almost certainly end their long playoff streak. On the other side of the continent, the Boston Bruins may suffer a similar fate.
Boston, who is coming off a loss to Ottawa, now holds a mere two-point lead over the Senators for the East's final wild card spot. Buoyed by a most unlikely source, the streaking Sens have a game in hand over the Bruins and a greater than 50 percent chance of finishing in the top eight, according to SportsClubStats.com.
Oh, and those pesky Florida Panthers are just five points behind the Bruins after defeating the talented Red Wings, 3-1. Roberto Luongo looked sharp with 23 saves on 24 shots and, if he can stay consistent, could lead the Cats to an improbable run over the next month.
San Jose Sharks 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1
Ottawa Senators 6, Boston Bruins 4
Florida Panthers 3, Detroit Red Wings 1
3 things we learned
1. Andrew Hammond is human after all
Hammond's first 13 appearances this year went remarkably well, as he surrendered two or less goals in each of those games. Regression was looming, however, and on Thursday, the Senators netminder gave up four goals on 35 shots to the Boston Bruins. Thankfully for him, Ottawa scored six of its own en route to a much-needed victory -- Hammond's seventh straight win.
2. Johnny Gaudreau should be in the Calder Trophy conversation
For most of the season, it felt as if either Filip Forsberg or Aaron Ekblad would take home the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL's best rookie. Now, thanks to Johnny Gaudreau's work in Calgary, the race is getting crowded.
Gaudreau, 21, scored his 20th goal of the season on Thursday to go along with two assists, giving him 56 points on the year. This effort allowed him to supplant Forsberg for the rookie scoring lead. If Gaudreau keeps this up, and if Forsberg continues to slump, the Flames winger could earn some hardware come June.
3. The five-second rule applies to NHL ice, apparently
Ondrej Pavelec turned in a strong performance against the Blues to propel the Jets to a 2-1 shootout triumph. His stop against St. Louis' Alexander Steen sealed the win for Winnipeg.
Stat of the night
Though few have noticed, Florida's Brandon Pirri has been on fire.
Brandon Pirri has 14 goals in 19 games (pretty sure he'll get credit for goal)...You know who also has 14 goals in 19 games? Alex Ovechkin.— Paige Lewis (@PaigeLewisFL) March 20, 2015