The Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes are the only teams outside the top-8 in each conference who remain mathematically in the hunt for a playoff spot after Wednesday night’s action. Despite a 6-1 victory over the rival Edmonton Oilers, the Calgary Flames didn't get the help they needed elsewhere. Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks -- one of which needed to lose -- both won, although Chicago's OT victory over the St. Louis Blues wasn't without controversy.
Carolina pulled to within two points of the idle New York Rangers with a 3-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It was Cam Ward’s fourth shutout of the season and captain Eric Staal assisted on all three goals. Both the Hurricanes -- Atlanta (Friday) and Tampa Bay (Saturday) -- and the Rangers --- Atlanta (Thursday) and New Jersey (Saturday) -- have two games remaining.
The 'Canes and Rangers are currently even in the first tie-breaker, regulation and overtime wins (34). The Hurricanes have the edge in the second tie-breaker, points head to head. Carolina has picked up six over their four meetings to the Rangers’ four points.
"Up to this point, no team has done us any favors," Derek Joslin, who scored a power-play goal in the second period, told The News & Observer. "If we can get two more wins we definitely give ourselves a shot at making the playoffs.
"I know the Rangers are peeking over their shoulders, especially after a big win tonight against a team like that. Maybe they'll be gripping their sticks a little tight."
Neither the Flames nor the Stars were done any favors either by the referees or the replay officials in Toronto. The Chicago Blackhawks used an iffy second-period tally to help force overtime, where they eked out a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Trailing 2-0, replays appear to show Chicago forward Marian Hossa kick the puck across the goal. (Hossa may very well have tipped it with this stick after he booted it to make it a legal play, but it was hard to tell in the replays.) Even more difficult was determining whether the puck indeed crossed the goal line since Blues goalie Ty Conklin’s catching glove was over top of it.
Judge for yourself:
Here's what Calgary Sun's Scott Fisher, who was live blogging the game, had to say:
After a lengthy review, Hossa’s goal is upheld — even though he appeared to kick the puck, which went off the post and never conclusively crossed the line. Considering the Flames’ recent dealings with the NHL’s war room, conspiracy theorists are given added ammunition.
Either way, the game’s in the books and the Blackhawks finished the night tied for seventh place points-wise with the Anaheim Ducks. Both teams are four points up on the Dallas Stars, who finish with games against the Colorado Avalanche (Thursday and Friday) and the Minnesota Wild (Sunday).
PERRY REACHES 50: Corey Perry’s third career hat trick in a 6-2 rout of the San Jose Sharks pushed the Anaheim Ducks forward over the 50-goal mark on Wednesday.
He became the third player in franchise history to reach that plateau -- joining Paul Kariya (1995-96) and Teemu Selanne in 1996-97 and 1997-98) -- and extended his points streak to 10 games in the process.
Perry, one of the leading candidates for the Hart Trophy, is six goals ahead of Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos in the race for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy.
Washington 5, Florida 2
New Jersey 4, Toronto 2
Boston 3, NY Islanders 2
Carolina 3, Detroit 0
Chicago 4, St. Louis 3 (OT)
Calgary 6, Edmonton 1
Anaheim 6, San Jose 2
Los Angeles 3, Phoenix 2 (SO)
-- A.J. Perez