Sports

NHL playoff watch: Latest on the race for the East’s second wild card

The final day of the 2023-24 NHL regular season is Thursday, but the Eastern Conference teams will close things out by Wednesday. And it may take that long before we know the identity of all eight playoff teams in that conference.

Monday is a big night in the race for the second wild card, with the Washington Capitals (the team currently in that spot), Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins all playing game No. 81 on their schedule. The New York Islanders — No. 3 in the Metro Division — are also playing their penultimate game.

As it stands, the Isles have 90 points and 27 regulation wins, three points clear of the field, but behind the Caps, Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers in regulation wins (the first tiebreaker); the Flyers cannot catch New York, but the other two clubs can. Adding to the chaos, all four games involving these teams are slated for 7 p.m. ET puck drop:

An incredibly important game sits on the Tuesday schedule, with the Capitals visiting the Flyers; that same evening, the Red Wings visit Montreal for the second half of a back-to-back, home-and-away set. And on Wednesday, the Penguins and Islanders play game No. 82 — against one another!

This race has been one of the closest in recent memory, and it appears it’s going right down to the wire.

Note: Playoff chances are via Stathletes.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Clinching scenarios
Monday’s schedule
Sunday’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Boston Bruins vs. WC1 Tampa Bay Lightning
A2 Florida Panthers vs. A3 Toronto Maple Leafs
M1 New York Rangers vs. WC2 Washington Capitals
M2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. M3 New York Islanders

Western Conference

C1 Dallas Stars vs. WC2 Vegas Golden Knights
C2 Winnipeg Jets vs. C3 Colorado Avalanche
P1 Vancouver Canucks vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings


Clinching scenarios

1. The New York Islanders will clinch a playoff berth if they win against the New Jersey Devils in any fashion.

They will also clinch if they lose in overtime or shootout to the Devils AND one or both of the following occur:

They will also clinch if ANY of these three outcomes transpire:

  • The Red Wings lose to the Canadiens in regulation AND the Caps lose to the Bruins in regulation

  • The Red Wings lose to the Canadiens in regulation AND the Pittsburgh Penguins lose to the Nashville Predators in any fashion

  • The Caps lose to the Bruins in regulation AND the Penguins lose to the Preds in any fashion

2. The New York Rangers will clinch the Metro Division, Eastern Conference and Presidents’ Trophy if they defeat the Ottawa Senators in any method.

3. The Bruins will clinch the Atlantic Division if they win against the Caps in any fashion.

4. The idle Vancouver Canucks will clinch the Pacific Division if the Edmonton Oilers lose to the San Jose Sharks in any fashion.

5. The Predators will clinch Western wild card No. 1 if they win or lose in OT/shootout to the Penguins.


Monday’s games

Note: All times ET. All games not on TNT or NHL Network are available via NHL Power Play, which is included in an ESPN+ subscription (local blackout restrictions apply).

Montreal Canadiens at Detroit Red Wings, 7 p.m.
Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m.
New York Islanders at New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m.
Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m.
Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. (NHLN)
Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers, 7:30 p.m.
San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers, 9:30 p.m.
Minnesota Wild at Los Angeles Kings, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)


Sunday’s scoreboard

St. Louis Blues 4, Seattle Kraken 1
Vegas Golden Knights 4, Colorado Avalanche 3 (OT)
Carolina Hurricanes 4, Chicago Blackhawks 2
Calgary Flames 6, Arizona Coyotes 5


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 109
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 2
Points pace: 112
Next game: @ WSH (Monday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 108
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 1
Points pace: 109
Next game: vs. TOR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 2
Points pace: 105
Next game: @ FLA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 2
Points pace: 98
Next game: vs. BUF (Monday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 89
Next game: vs. MTL (Monday)
Playoff chances: 65.7%
Tragic number: 4

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Points pace: 83
Next game: @ TB (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 78
Next game: @ NYR (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 76
Next game: @ DET (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Metropolitan Division

Points: 112
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 1
Points pace: 113
Next game: vs. OTT (Monday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 111
Regulation wins: 44
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 1
Points pace: 112
Next game: @ CBJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 2
Points pace: 92
Next game: @ NJ (Monday)
Playoff chances: 94.5%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 2
Points pace: 89
Next game: vs. BOS (Monday)
Playoff chances: 21.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Points pace: 88
Next game: vs. WSH (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 6.4%
Tragic number: 3

Points: 86
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 88
Next game: vs. NSH (Monday)
Playoff chances: 11.7%
Tragic number: 3

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Points pace: 82
Next game: vs. NYI (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Points pace: 65
Next game: vs. CAR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

Points: 111
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 1
Points pace: 112
Next game: vs. STL (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 106
Regulation wins: 44
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 2
Points pace: 109
Next game: vs. SEA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 105
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 1
Points pace: 106
Next game: vs. EDM (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 99
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 1
Points pace: 100
Next game: @ PIT (Monday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Points pace: 92
Next game: @ DAL (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 87
Next game: @ LA (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Points pace: 76
Next game: vs. EDM (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 52
Next game: @ VGK (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

Points: 107
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 2
Points pace: 110
Next game: vs. CGY (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 3
Points pace: 106
Next game: vs. SJ (Monday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 2
Points pace: 99
Next game: vs. MIN (Monday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 2
Points pace: 98
Next game: vs. CHI (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 81
Next game: @ VAN (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 81
Next game: @ WPG (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Points pace: 58
Next game: @ VGK (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 48
Next game: @ EDM (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

p — clinched Presidents’ Trophy
y — clinched division
x — clinched playoff berth
e — eliminated from playoff contention


Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. As of 2021, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots if it wins the lottery, so only 11 teams are eligible for the draw for the No. 1 pick. Full details on the process can be found here. Sitting No. 1 on the draft board for this summer is Macklin Celebrini, a freshman at Boston University.

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 14

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 17

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 24

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 31

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 33

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 32

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 31

Points: 86
Regulation wins: 31

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 30

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 31

* The Penguins’ first-round pick was traded to the Sharks as part of the Erik Karlsson trade. However, it is top-10 protected.

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