The Florida Panthers wake up to themselves still sitting in the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. How long the idle Cats have that luxury remains to be seen. They need to start racking up wins while other playoff contenders need to lose.
Last night, Florida got an unconditional helping hand from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who doubled up the Buffalo Sabres by a 6-3 count. Ryan O’Reilly’s hat trick helped wipe away one of Buffalo’s games in hand on the Cats. The Sabres remain four points behind the Panthers, having played five less games.
While the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals kept the Cats in a playoff spot, it might not have been the best thing long-term. The Red Wings are now just two points behind the Panthers, with four games in hand. Washington is also two points behind Florida, but only holds one game in hand, and has now lost five in a row. At least the game didn’t go to overtime, so only one team made progress. That’s something.
Of the utmost interest tonight is the New York Islanders game against the Winnipeg Jets. With the Islanders currently holding down WC1, a Jets win in regulation would be particularly sweet.