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:

  • A win for the Isles against the New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+) ends any threat. That’s the easiest path to the playoffs for New York, setting up a first-round matchup with the Metro’s No. 2 seed (either the New York Rangers or Carolina Hurricanes).

  • The Capitals (87 points, 30 RW) are hosting the Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET, NHL Network). A win of any kind puts them at 89 points, making the margin of error quite thin for the other teams.

  • Detroit (87 points, 27 RW) is squaring off against the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+). Given the shortage of regulation wins, they need every W they can get.

  • A loss to those same Bruins on Saturday put a dent in the Penguins’ chances (86 points, 31 RW), and they’ll look to rebound against the Nashville Predators (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+).

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
Monday’s schedule
Sunday’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

greyline

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


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

bos

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

fla

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

tor

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

tb

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

det

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 89
Next game: vs. MTL (Monday)
Playoff chances: 65.8%
Tragic number: 4

buf

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

ott

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

mtl

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

nyr

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

car

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

nyi

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

wsh

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 2
Points pace: 89
Next game: vs. BOS (Monday)
Playoff chances: 21.8%
Tragic number: N/A

phi

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

pit

Points: 86
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Points pace: 88
Next game: vs. NSH (Monday)
Playoff chances: 11.5%
Tragic number: 3

nj

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

cbj

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

dal

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

wpg

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

col

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

nsh

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

stl

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

min

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

ari

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

chi

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

van

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

edm

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

la

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

vgk

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

cgy

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

sea

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

ana

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

sj

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.

sj

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 14

chi

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 17

ana

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 20

cbj

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 20

mtl

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 20

ari

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 27

ott

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 24

sea

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 27

cgy

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 31

nj

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 33

buf

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 32

min

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 31

pit

Points: 86
Regulation wins: 31

det

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 27

phi

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 30

stl

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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