Winners & Losers: Avs, Sabres, Sharks all get big wins; Jackets eliminated

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

There's always a Winner and a Loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.

Monday's NHL scoreboard

Winners

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche: Is Landeskog going to win the Calder Trophy in Las Vegas this summer? With more efforts like the one he had on Monday night he might.

In need of points to try and keep the pressure on the rest of the teams in the logjam that is the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Avalanche found themselves heading to overtime once again. That's where Landeskog came to shine.

With a somewhat generous gift from the Anaheim defense, Landeskog found himself in prime scoring space with time to think to boot. He used that time wisely and rifled one past Jonas Hiller on the short side top shelf and collapsed to the ice in celebration. It was his team-high 19th goal this season and put the Avs back into playoff position for another night. It was also the type of moment people remember, especially if the Avs can keep this up the rest of the season and punch a playoff ticket.

For the time being they have one. I'll call it a stand-by ticket though. They are in that eighth spot but became the first team in the league to play their 71st game and thus only have 11 left.

[Related: Avalanche 3, Ducks 2 (OT) | Selanne passes Kurri on scoring list]

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Buffalo Sabres: They got two points, even if it was the hard way. They all look the same in the standings and that's what really matters right now for Buffalo as it continues to chase a playoff bid.

Thanks to Tyler Ennis' pair of goals -- one really pretty one rather ugly, but like wins, the all count the same -- the Sabres were holding on to a 2-1 lead late after dominating for almost the entire game. Then the Sabres decided they were no longer interested in clearing the puck out of their own zone or something to that effect and the Canadiens onslaught on Ryan Miller was on. With less than five seconds left David Desharnais found himself alone on the weak side and roofed the game-tying goal.

With two points becoming one with that goal. Thanks to Tyler Myers joining an offensive rush in overtime, it became two points again. More importantly, it brought the Sabres back to only two points out of the eighth spot in the East, moving them into ninth place by their lonesome with 12 games left on their schedule.

While they still have work to do to get into the postseason being two points back and having played more games than the teams they are chasing, this much is pretty evident: If they do earn one of the eight spots, they become an awfully scary low seed in the first round.

[Related: Sabres 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)]

San Jose Sharks: I don't think there was a team in the league in desperate need of a win more than the Sharks . And they got it.

Heading into Monday night the Sharks were in very unchartered waters: Out of the playoff seeding in the West thanks to five consecutive losses and a prolonged stretch of subpar play. One of the numerous culprits in their struggles of late was the lack of power-play production. That changed on Monday night and so did their result, imagine that.

The Sharks scored not one but two with the man advantage to propel them to a 3-2 win over the Oilers in Edmonton. While it didn't change their status as being one point out of a playoff spot, it did help them jump a few teams in the mix.

More importantly, it helped them get back on track. While I mentioned that the Avs were the first team to play 71 games this season on Monday night, the Sharks became the final team to play their 68th. So you can see San Jose is still in a good position. But you have to win games like this to make that good position an advantageous one.

[Related: Sharks 3, Oilers 2]

Losers

Phoenix Coyotes: Hey, as the intro says, somebody has to lose. But let the record state this is about as soft of a loser as it gets. I mean they still got a point against one of the best teams in the league.

Even better was how it came about for the Coyotes . Down 4-2 to the Predators in the third period, the Coyotes showed the same resilience that really defines them as an organization and came back to tie up the Preds before eventually forcing the game to a shootout. In those circumstances, to come out with a point ain't bad at all.

But it would have been much nicer to get that second point with the logjam in the West breathing down their necks and the seventh position as well. The solitary point at least made sure they would remain in seventh alone for the night but there are teams hot on their tails.

Briefly, the extra point was big for the Predators as they crawled to just two points behind Detroit for fourth in the Western Conference. That's another race worth watching as the season winds down.

[Related: Predators 5, Coyotes 4 (SO)]

Columbus Blue Jackets: They didn't play but they were officially eliminated from the playoffs. Their max point total is 77 and the eight-place Avalanche just hit 78, officially sealing the Jackets' fate that was otherwise settled back in November.

Goal of the night

As mentioned above, one of Tyler Ennis' goals on Monday was a thing of beauty. Have a look for yourself.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

 
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