Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Kings Inch Closer, Caps Do Not

The Los Angeles Kings made the most of playing an opponent of lesser-quality on Monday night, shutting out the Oilers, 2-0, and they moved closer to at least clinching a playoff spot, but the were also able to pad their lead in the Pacific Division. The Kings put the Avalanche out of reach in the playoff spot argument, while the three Pacific Division teams chasing the last two spots in the West are all going, two of them playing against each other on Tuesday night.

The Sharks are in Dallas to take on the Stars, with the winner either getting or staying in front of the other, while the Coyotes are playing host to the Blue Jackets in one of the late games tonight.  The Coyotes need a win to keep pace with the Kings and to stay ahead of the Sharks and/or Stars.

The Avalanche, who are sitting in 10th, can move to the very edge of playoff eligibility tonight, if the Sharks win and the Coyotes pull out at least a point.  The Avs have 92 points and they have the tie-break on both San Jose and Phoenix, which would keep them alive, but it looks very unlikely that they are going to make it.

In the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning did their best job at playing spoilers last night, beating the Washington Capitals on Monday night, 4-2, thanks to Dwayne Roloson's masterful job in the net and Steven Stamkos potting a pair of late goals.  The Capitals still have the potential of losing the 8th and final playoff spot to the Sabres with this loss, keeping the intrigue up in the late season race to the playoffs.

The Sabres play host to the Leafs tonight and they can do themselves a major favour by earning the 2 points, bringing their point totals level with Washington, but they still don't have the tie-breaker, but the heat will be turned up on the Capitals.

The Panthers, on the other hand, can clinch the Southeast Division and their playoff spot with a win over the Jets, who are coming to visit Florida on Tuesday night.  A Panthers win, to which they need both points, would give them the security they need to prepare for their likely opponent, the New Jersey Devils, in the first round.

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