Three of the top six teams in the NHL preside in the Atlantic Division after the Maple Leafs knocked off the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 Monday night.
Last season three of the four best teams were in the Metropolitan as the Capitals, Penguins and Blue Jackets all had outstanding regular seasons. It was unfortunate for Columbus that they had to face Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs as the fourth best team was eliminated in the Divisional semi-finals.
The same result will occur this season as the Maple Leafs and either Boston or Tampa Bay will meet in the first round. One will lose and that will be unfortunate.
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TORONTO 4 TAMPA BAY 3
Nylander had a goal and two assists while his centerman Matthews assisted on both his goals and well as one by Jake Gardiner to give him 26 goals and 47 points in 48 games this season. Nylander has also been coming on of late as he has 14 goals and 44 points in 58 games. Both have seven points in their last four games.
While the Maple Leafs led 3-0, the Lightning never gave up and when Alex Killorn scored with 4:01 left in the second, the Lightning went into their dressing room with some hope heading into the third.
They were rewarded early as Nikita Kucherov with his 30th and Yanni Gourde scored within the first 1:18 of the third period and tied the game up, quieting the ACC crowd (with the exception of the platinum seats whose patrons were still underneath drinking and eating sushi).
But James van Riemsdyk restored the Toronto lead at the 4:37 mark of the third as he beat Andrei Vasilevskiy who did not have a strong game in goal for the Lightning. He gave up all four goals on only 23 shots.
Frederik Andersen shut the door the rest of the way as he made 31 saves including one on Tyler Johnson in the last 10 seconds of the game with the Lightning net empty.
Johnson was a minus-three on the night.
ARIZONA 6 CHICAGO 1
Raanta turned aside 37 shots for his 10th win of the season. He has been good for the Coyotes and it appears they have their goalie of the future, or for the next five years or so.
Tobias Rieder, Clayton Keller, Max Domi and Alex Goligoski all had a goal and an assist while Nick Cousins and Christian Dvorak also scored for Arizona who won only their 14th game of the season and have 38 points in 56 games.
Alex DeBrincat was the only Blackhawk to beat Raanta and it was a power play goal.
Christian Fischer had two assists for Arizona. All Coyotes, save for Richard Panik was a plus player. Jordan Oesterle was minus-four for Chicago.
Anton Forsberg gave up three goals on 13 shots before he was pulled after Goligoski’s goal at the 7:06 mark of the second period. Jeff Glass was actually worse as he made only six saves on nine shots. They really could use Corey Crawford back.
FLORIDA 7 EDMONTON 5
It was a wild one in Edmonton, reminiscent of an Oilers game in the 1980’s there were plenty of goals as the Panthers outscored Edmonton 7-5.
Vincent Trocheck had the hat trick in the third period as he led the Panthers to the win.
It was not a great night to have a goaltender in the game as James Reimer gave up five goals on 32 shots and got the win despite the shoddy performance. Cam Talbot stopped 33-of-39 shots as Trocheck’s final goal was into the empty net.
Evgenii Dadonov had a pair of goals for Florida with Aaron Ekblad and Denis Malgin each picking up one as well as one assist.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Matheson and Keith Yandle each had two assists.
Connor McDavid and Patrick Maroon each had a goal and an assist for Edmonton. Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev and Leon Draisaitl (a shorthanded goal on a penalty shot) also scored for the Oilers.
Milan Lucic had seven hits but failed to get a point. He has no points in his last eight games.
The Panthers were 2-4 on the power play while Edmonton did not have any opportunities.
NOTES: Claude Giroux was the first star of the week while Johnny Gaudreau was second and Devan Dubnyk the third…Mike Fisher participated in his first practice of the season with Nashville and could return from retirement before the end of the month…Corey Crawford still has no timetable for his return but did practice with Chicago on Monday. He has vertigo…The Devils put Cory Schneider (groin) on injured reserve…Steve Kampfer of the Rangers will be out for four-six weeks with a fractured hand.