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NHL Morning Skate – March 29, 2024

* The Stars, Hurricanes, Panthers and idle Bruins punched their tickets to the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Thursday marking the first day to feature four teams clinching a postseason berth since a quartet of clubs did so exactly seven years ago.

Connor McDavid (27-95—122 in 69 GP) continued to close the gap in the Art Ross Trophy race via a three-point performance, now within just two points of League-leader Nikita Kucherov (42-82—124 in 71 GP).

* Friday will feature Jack Hughes and the Devils visiting Tage Thompson and the Sabres on Sportsnet ONE and NHL Network.

The Stars (46-19-9, 101 points), Hurricanes (46-21-7, 99 points), Panthers (46-22-5, 97 points) and idle Bruins (42-17-15, 99 points) clinched a postseason berth Thursday:

Roope Hintz (1-2—3), Jason Robertson (1-1—2), Jamie Benn (1-1—2) and Joe Pavelski (0-2—2) posted multiple points as Dallas defeated Vancouver to clinch its fifth playoff berth over the past six seasons and reach the 100-point mark for the 11th time in franchise history.  

* Robertson was born one month after the Stars’ Stanley Cup win in 1999 and looks to lead Dallas to its first championship since, while Pavelski enters his 16th postseason tied with former Minnesota North Stars forward Dino Ciccarelli for 13th place on the League’s career playoff goals listClick here for more on Dallas’ postseason clinch.

Sebastian Aho (1-2—3) factored on three of four goals during the middle frame to help the Hurricanes clinch their sixth straight berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Aho’s first helper of the night made him the third player in franchise history to reach the 300-assist mark and the fourth Hurricanes/Whalers skater to record at least two 50-assist seasons. He joined Ron Francis (11x; most: 69 in 1989-90), Mike Rogers (65 in 1980-81 & 61 in 1979-80) and Ray Whitney (53 in 2008-09 & 51 in 2006-07).
* The Hurricanes are one of four teams with seven or more series wins since 2019 and the only one of that group without a Cup (TBL: 11; VGK: 8; COL: 7; CAR: 7). Click here for more on Carolina’s postseason clinch.

* Despite falling to the Islanders, the Panthers still had cause to celebrate as they clinched a berth in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs via a Hurricanes regulation win against the Red Wings and after their captain Aleksander Barkov (1-1—2) became the fourth-fastest Finnish-born player in NHL history to reach the 700-point mark (728 GP). He trailed only Jarri Kurri (483 GP), Teemu Selanne (541 GP) and Tomas Sandstrom (719 GP).

* The Panthers will look to become the fourth different team in the past 20 years to make the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive seasons. The others include the Lightning (3 from 2020-22), Penguins (2 from 2008 – 2009 & 2016 – 2017) and Red Wings (2008 – 2009). Click here for more on Florida’s postseason clinch.

* The idle Bruins also clinched a berth in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs by virtue of the Canadiens’ regulation victory, one year after setting a single-season NHL record for wins, and will look to become the fifth team in the past six seasons to make it to the Stanley Cup Final after winning the Presidents’ Trophy in the previous campaign. They would join the Capitals (2018 SC Winner), Lightning (2020 SC Winner), Avalanche (2022 SC Winner) and Panthers (2023 SC Finalist).

* Captain Brad Marchand, the only current Boston player that won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011, can become the first player in NHL history to go 13 or more years between Stanley Cup wins with one franchise. The current mark is 10 years, held by Chris Osgood with Detroit (1998 & 2008) as well as Dit ClapperEddie Shore and Cooney Weiland with Boston (1929 & 1939). Click here to read more on Boston’s clinch.


With 11 spots in the postseason remaining, the Rush to the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues as the Maple Leafs (41-22-9, 91 points), Golden Knights (40-25-8, 88 points), Blues (39-30-4, 82 points) and Oilers (44-23-4, 92 points) all earned wins.

Joseph Woll (33 GP) stopped 23 of 24 shots and tied Al Rollins for the fewest games played to 20 NHL wins by a Maple Leafs goaltender.

Jack Eichel became the second player in Golden Knights history with consecutive 25-goal seasons after Jonathan Marchessault (2017-18 – 2018-19 & 2021-22 – 2023-24) as Vegas improved to 40-25-8 (88 points) and earned 40-plus wins for the fourth straight season – the longest active stretch by any club.

* Jake Neighbours (1-1—2) recorded his eighth multi-point outing of the season to help the Blues move within five points of the Kings (38-23-11, 87 points) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Neighbours scored his 26th goal of 2023-24 and tied Rod Brind’Amour (26 in 1989-90) and Wayne Babych (26 in 1979-80) for the third most in a season by a Blues player age 21 or younger. He trails Perry Turnbull (30 in 1980-81) and Babych (27 in 1978-79).

Connor McDavid (1-2—3), who reached the 120-point mark for the third straight season, and Leon Draisaitl (0-3—3)each assisted on the same goal twice Thursday, marking the 116th and 117th time in their career they’ve done so. The pair passed Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom (116) for the third-most instances among all active duos, trailing Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty (122) as well as Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang (119).

Notable #NHLStats from all 28 teams who skated in Thursday’s action are available in Live Updates, with highlights that include:

Chris Kreider tied Brian Leetch for third place on the franchise’s all-time power-play goals list as the League-leading Rangers (49-20-4, 102 points) defeated the Avalanche and became the first team to hold Nathan MacKinnon off the score sheet at Ball Arena this season.

Evgeni Malkin (2-0—2) led the Penguins to victory Thursday with his parents in attendance to watch him play for the first time in nearly five years. The forward’s first goal was his 20th of the season, moving him into a tie with Patrick Kane (15) for the third-most 20-goal campaigns among active players behind only Alex Ovechkin (19) and Sidney Crosby (16).

Claude Giroux opened the scoring 36 seconds into the contest to mark just the fourth-fastest shorthanded game-opening goal on record, behind Wayne Gretzky (0:30 on Dec. 10, 1986), Dirk Graham (0:30 on Oct. 18, 1986) and Brad Marchand (0:32 on Feb. 8, 2024).

* With the help of another multi-point performance by Josh Doan (0-2—2), a four-point second period by Clayton Keller (1-3—4) and a hat trick by Logan Cooley, the Coyotes netted eight goals – tied for their highest-scoring game this season – to snap the Predators’ point streak at 18 games. Doan became the fifth active player to record multiple points in each of his first two career games, joining Elias Pettersson (2 GP in 2018-19), Jesper Bratt (2 GP in 2017-18), Vladimir Tarasenko (2 GP in 2013-14) and Anze Kopitar (2 GP in 2006-07), while Keller became the fourth player in Coyotes team history to post a four-point period.


Referee Kyle Rehman celebrates recently reaching 1,000-game milestone
Christina Aguilera attends Blue Jackets-Penguins game
2024 NHL Draft notebook: Lukas Fischer‘s family gets assist for strong OHL season

John Carlson proud to be reaching 1,000th NHL game with Capitals

The Hollywood Hit That Helped Save a Franchise: “Saving Sakic” Trailer Released


With 15 games on the horizon Saturday, only one is on the slate Friday as two of the highest-scoring American players since 2021-22 clash on NHL Network and Sportsnet ONE when Jack Hughes and the Devils visit Tage Thompson and the Sabres. Hughes ranks among the top 10 in assists and points among that cohort over that span, while Thompson is in the same grouping for goals.

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