If the playoffs began Friday: Penguins march to home-ice advantage

Here's what postseason matchups look like after play on Thursday, March 31:

Eastern Conference

Team Team Season Series
A1 Panthers W1 Islanders 1-1-1
A2 Lightning A3 Bruins 2-1-1 Lightning
M1 Capitals W2 Flyers 2-0-2 Capitals
M2 Penguins M3 Rangers 3-1 Penguins
  • A win paired with a Rangers loss sees the Penguins move into the second seed in the Metropolitan Division and nab provisional hold of home-ice advantage in Round 1.
  • Florida seized a two-point lead atop the Atlantic Division with a win over the Devils, plus a Lightning loss.
  • The Bruins and Red Wings, vying for third in the Atlantic, were both idle.

Wild-Card Race

Team Points Games Remaining
1. Islanders 93 6
2. Flyers 89 6
Red Wings 87 5
Hurricanes 84 4
  • The Islanders strengthened their grip on the first wild-card slot and moved to within two points of the Rangers (with a game in hand) with their win over the Blue Jackets.

Western Conference

Team Team Season Series
C1 Stars W2 Wild 3-1 Stars
C2 Blues C3 Blackhawks 2-0-2 Blackhawks
P1 Kings W1 Predators 2-1 Kings
P2 Ducks P3 Sharks 3-1 Ducks
  • The Stars lobbed the ball back at the Blues, moving two points ahead in the Central Division after entering the night tied at 101 points through 77 games.
  • The Kings jumped back in front of the Ducks, taking two points from the Flames like Anaheim did Wednesday night. They also moved five points clear of the Sharks, who lost to Vancouver.

Wild-Card Race

Team Points Games Remaining
1. Predators 91 4
2. Wild 87 4
Avalanche 82 5
  • The Predators and Wild each lost in regulation, which keeps the door open for the Avalanche, but also keeps their positions fixed.
  • In failing to punch their ticket again, the Predators remain four points behind the Blackhawks with one fewer game remaining on the schedule.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Keith declines in-person hearing, will address Coyle incident Friday

Duncan Keith will plead his case Friday, and over the phone.

The Chicago Blackhawks defenseman declined his offered in-person hearing, choosing not to travel to the NHL offices to speak to the NHL's Department of Player Safety and address his high stick to the face of Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle.

Keith, whose been suspended twice earlier in his career, can be banned in excess of six games for the ugly stick-swinging incident.

He earned a match penalty and game misconduct for the transgression, and will likely not be eligible until some point in the postseason.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Jagr urges NHL to absolve Panthers of ‘Rat Trick’ penalties

Jaromir Jagr can't stop fans of the Florida Panthers from hurling rats onto the ice to celebrate goals. In fact, he doesn't really mind the rubber rodents. But he does take issue with the two-minute delay-of-game penalties that come with the display.

After Thursday's game - a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils - the ageless one urged the NHL to step in and prevent officials from punishing the team for their fans' excitement before another incident costs them valuable points, or worse, hurts them in the playoffs.

"I don't think we should get two minutes for that," Jagr began his postgame scrum. "The league should do something about it. If they are going to give us a penalty every time somebody throw a rat, whoever we play in playoffs is going to hire some guys to throw the rats, and get a power play all game."

The fans were warned on multiple occasions not to throw the rats, which were handed out to commemorate the team's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996.

But Jagr doesn't blame them.

"We're trying to sell the game. You (shouldn't) get penalized for selling the game. It doesn't make sense to me. It shouldn't be like that."

The Panthers successfully killed two minor penalties as a result of rats littering the ice after their second and third goals, which helped them move two points clear of the Tampa Bay Lightning atop the Pacific Division.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Stamkos calls out ‘passengers’ after shutout loss to Canadiens

After a 3-0 shutout loss to the shorthanded Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos directed aim at teammates who've perhaps had complacency creep into their games.

"We had too many passengers tonight. It's unacceptable," he said, reports Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

"There's no excuses here," he added. "It's look yourself-in-the-mirror time. If you're not giving the effort, you're letting your teammates down."

Tampa coasted after falling behind 2-0 early in the second period, mustering just 12 shots over the next 39-plus minutes.

With the loss, the Lightning, who've traded points throughout March, fell two points back of the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning have just one home date remaining before finishing the season with a four-game road trip.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.