NHL MORNING SKATE – MARCH 28, 2016

NHL MORNING SKATE – MARCH 28, 2016

Welcome to the “NHL Morning Skate,” a daily collection of the latest news and notes from around the League.

TODAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS

* The Capitals will clinch the Presidents’ Trophy and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs if they get at least one point against the Blue Jackets.
* The Sharks will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Kings in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Kings AND the Coyotes lose to the Flames in any fashion OR if the Coyotes lose to the Flames in regulation.
* The Predators will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Avalanche in regulation.

SNEAK PEEK AT MONDAY’S ACTION

All Times Eastern
Winnipeg @ Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m., TSN3, CSN-PH
Columbus @ Washington, 7:00 p.m., FS-O, CSN-DC
Buffalo @ Detroit, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, FS-D
Toronto @ Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m., TVAS, SNO, SUN
Colorado @ Nashville, 8:00 p.m., ALT, FS-TN
Anaheim @ Edmonton, 9:00 p.m., FS-W, SNW
Calgary @ Arizona, 10:00 p.m., SNF, FS-A
Los Angeles @ San Jose, 10:00 p.m., NBCSN, SNE, SNP

SHARKS, PREDATORS ATTEMPT TO PUNCH PLAYOFF TICKETS

Both the Sharks and Predators will try to clinch playoff berths while facing division rivals:

* The Sharks (41-28-6, 88 points), who saw their 10-year playoff streak end in 2014-15, will attempt to return to the postseason when they welcome the Pacific Division-leading Kings (45-25-5, 95 points) to SAP Center. This marks the fifth and final meeting of 2015-16 between these California rivals, who have split their opening four matchups – with the road team winning each contest (SJS: 2-1-1, LAK: 2-2-0). That includes a 3-2 overtime victory by Los Angeles in their most recent head-to-head game on Jan. 24 in San Jose.
* The Predators (39-23-13, 91 points) will try to lock up their fifth postseason berth in the past seven years when they face the Avalanche (38-33-4, 80 points), the first team on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, at Bridgestone Arena. This marks the fourth of five meetings in 2015-16 between these Central Division rivals, who will close their season series on April 5 – also in Nashville. Colorado has won two of their opening three matchups (COL: 2-1-0, NSH: 1-2-0).

SUNDAY’S RESULTS

Home Team in Caps
CAROLINA 3, New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 3, NY RANGERS 2 (OT)
Chicago 3, VANCOUVER 2

LADD, BLACKHAWKS CLINCH EIGHTH STRAIGHT PLAYOFF BERTH

Andrew Ladd scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:27 remaining in regulation to power the Blackhawks to their eighth consecutive playoff berth.

* At 44-25-7 (95 points), the Blackhawks moved four points ahead of the idle Predators (39-23-13, 91 points) for third place in the Central Division. They also climbed within four points of the idle division leaders – the Stars and Blues (both 45-22-9, 99 points).
* Ladd, who posted 2-1—3 in Saturday’s win at CGY, has 6-3—9 in 13 games since rejoining the Blackhawks. His six goals pace the team in the span, while his nine points are tied for second on the club – behind only Patrick Kane (4-6—10 in 13 GP).

CROSBY, PENGUINS INCH AHEAD IN METROPOLITAN DIVISION RACE

Sidney Crosby scored with 29.5 seconds remaining in overtime to lead the Penguins past the Rangers and to their eighth victory in their last nine games, including five straight on the road.

* The Penguins, who moved within three points of second place in the Metropolitan Division, closed their season series with a 3-1-0 record against the Rangers (NYR: 1-2-1).
* Crosby picked up his eighth career overtime goal and first of 2015-16. He ranks third in the NHL with 32-46—78 this season, including at least one point in 14 of his past 15 contests (7-15—22).

LOOSE PUCKS
Forward Victor Rask (2-0—2) registered his second multi-goal game of the season to lift the Hurricanes within four points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Rask, who scored for the third straight game (4-0—4), reached the 20-goal milestone for the first time in his career (20-25—45) . . . Forward Eric Staal (2-0—2) posted his 50th career multi-goal game – and first with the Rangers (14 GP) . . . Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (25 SV) improved to 7-1-0 in his last eight appearances (1.98 GAA, .915 SV%).

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