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NHL scores 2016: Flyers get a miracle win to make up important playoff ground

A half inch might have saved Philly's season.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Sure, the NHL trade deadline is still a couple of days away.

But teams should already know it's crunch time.

For those sitting on the outside the playoff picture looking in, every game against an equally average opponent is essentially a test of your fortitude. Can you put away the non-contenders when it matters the most?

Three teams failed that test Thursday. The only one who passed needed a miracle to do so.

Of all the playoff bubble teams that played yesterday, the New Jersey Devils sat closest to the cutoff mark. And they suffered the most embarrassing defeat against a Columbus Blue Jackets team that essentially gave up on the season back in early November. Giving up a hat trick in the first 40 minutes is not a recipe for success.

Carolina didn't fare much better. With New Jersey's loss, here was a chance for the Hurricanes to leapfrog the Devils and tie the Penguins for the final playoff spot. Instead, they looked frustrated in a loss to the league-worst Toronto Maple Leafs.

And then there was the Minnesota Wild. Oh, how they tried to earn at least a point out of that game. And they came so close.


That left the Philadelphia Flyers alone atop the heap, the only team to truly gain ground in the Wild Card playoff race. More than a few teams will look back on nights like this when they're on the golf course during the Stanley Cup playoffs in a couple months.


Flyers 3, Wild 2

Blue Jackets 6, Devils 1

Maple Leafs 3, Hurricanes 1

Panthers 3, Coyotes 2

Rangers 2, Blues 1

Predators 3, Blackhawks 1

Jets 6, Stars 3

Islanders 2, Flames 1 (OT)

Canucks 5, Senators 3

Kings 2, Oilers 1

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3 things we learned

1. The Jets are going to be just fine without Andrew Ladd

In the future, at least. Nice of the Jets to go out right after they traded their captain and show their fans what's in store the next few years. Besides the excellent haul in return for Ladd, rookie Nikolaj Ehlers was terrific throughout against the Dallas Stars and Joel Armia flashed some serious talent on this goal.

Yeah. Check back in a few years. The Jets will be a force.

2. Gophers cannot skate

3. Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne have still got it

Both veteran goalies have had rough patches this year, at least longer than we've become accustomed to. But both reminded fans Thursday why they're the best in the game. While the Blackhawks were busy trading for Andrew Ladd, Rinne was busy making 38 saves in the latest of a string of excellent performances. And Lundqvist was completely at his best on Thursday, making 38 saves to become the Rangers' all-time saves leader.

Impact Moment

I know we showed it to you up there, but a GIF just doesn't do Michal Neuvirth's incredible save any justice:

Considering the clutch factor and degree of difficulty, this has to be the save of the season.

Stat of the Night

Lundqvist moved into third place all-time in NHL history with his 10th season with 30 or more wins.