Penguins Grab Top Seed, Maple Leafs Headed to the Playoffs While Devils Keep Hopes Alive
After Friday’s postponed game due to the manhunt for one of the Boston bombers, the Boston Bruins (26-12-5) returned to their home ice on Saturday and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins (34-10-0), 3-2. With the win, the Penguins grabbed the No. 1 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs and home-ice advantage.
It was business as usual for the Penguins, who have six consecutive wins at TD Garden. They have four games left in the season and have 15 to 4 odds to win the Stanley Cup.
Ironically, it was Jarome Iginla’s third period power play to gave the Penguins the win. Iginla was set to be traded to the Bruins last month but executed his no trade clause and landed with the Penguins. He was booed by Bruins fans throughout the game.
While on the road to recovery, Penguin players Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin and James Neal were absent from the game.
Next up for the Penguins is a Monday away game against the Ottawa Senators (23-15-6) while the Bruins return to their home ice on Sunday and will play the Florida Panthers (13-25-6). They’ll get the victory (-290 5.5 o/u) and looking to the season’s end, they’re 5 to 7 to win the North Division.
Also from Saturday’s play, the Toronto Maple Leafs (25-15-3) defeated the Senators, 4-1, and clinched their first playoff berth since 2004.
The Maple Leafs now sit in the fifth spot for the Eastern Conference while the Senators dropped to the seventh spot behind the New York Islanders (24-16-5) with four remaining games.
James Reimer, the Maple Leafs goalie, had 49 saves in the game and said of the team’s playoff spot via NHL.com, “This is unbelievable. This is the hockey you always want to play and dream of when you’re growing up. And especially for our city, I know they’re anxious for it. It’s great to finally clinch. Our team plays great here, and that just trickles down to your goaltender. I don’t know why we’re getting good results [playing in Ottawa] but it’s fun and a great atmosphere.”
For the Maple Leafs, they’re 28 to 1 to win this year’s Stanley Cup.
Also punching their playoff ticket on Saturday was the Vancouver Canucks (25-13-7). They defeated the Detroit Red Wings (20-16-8) 2-1 in a shootout and have 15 to 1 odds to win this year’s Stanley Cup.
Devils vs. Rangers
In Sunday’s games, thanks to their 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday, the New Jersey Devils (17-17-10) kept their playoff hopes alive and will now face the New York Rangers (23-17-4).
The Devils will need to win their final four games to make the playoffs with -175 yes/+125 to do so.
Lucky for the team, Ilya Kovalchuk has returned from an injured right shoulder. He spent almost 23 minutes on the ice in Saturday’s game as the Devils saw a season-high number of goals.
For the Rangers, they will look at this as a revenge game as they lost to the Devils in the 2012 East finals after six games, ending their road to the Stanley Cup finals.
But the Rangers, who defeated the Buffalo Sabres (19-20-6) 8-4 on Saturday, they need to worry about their own playoff chances. They currently sit in the East’s eighth position with the Winnipeg Jets (23-19-3) just one point behind them for a coveted playoff spot.
Lucky for them, they play well at home and will host the Devils there. They have won their last four home games with an 18-6 margin with Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist playing in all of the team’s home games during April.
In the teams’ Feb. 5 matchup, Lundqvist had 19 saves as his team lost 3-1 but in their March 19 game, he had had 29 saves, which ended the team’s four losses for this series, as the Rangers won 3-2.
Sorry Devils fans, the road to the playoffs comes to an end on Sunday as the home team takes the win (-175, 5 o/u).