Three of the teams fighting for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference were in action on Tuesday night, and thanks to wins by Buffalo and Florida, and Carolina's loss to Boston, there is a major pileup at the bottom of the playoff picture.
Buffalo burned rookie netminder Justin Pogge for three goals on nine shots in the first period, while the Sabres pulled out a 4-1 win in Toronto. Meanwhile, in Miami, the Panthers cooled off New Jersey with a 4-0 win thanks to Tomas Vokoun's 36-save shutout.
As a result of Tuesday's games, Montreal, the Rangers, Buffalo and Florida are all tied with 66 points for spots five through eight. Carolina, which lost to Boston, 5-1, sits five points back in the No. 9 spot while Pittsburgh holds steady with 60 points in the No. 10 spot.
-- It's the season for trade rumors, so here's the anti-Eklund site for a laugh: HockeybuzzHogwash.
-- During the Vancouver-Calgary game Kyle Wellwood was called for a high-sticking penalty at the 18:17 mark of the first period. Not a big deal, right? Well, when you consider it's the first penalty he's been called for since March 11, 2006, it is kind of noteworthy. That's 159 consecutive games without a penalty.Wednesday's key games
-- The Rangers host their crosstown rivals, the Islanders, as they look to dig themselves out of a hole that is getting deeper by the game. They have to beat the Islanders, right?
-- Columbus hosts St. Louis with an opportunity to gain some crucial points in the Western Conference playoff race. The Blue Jackets have picked up nine of a possible 10 points in their past five games.
Newsmakers in the NHL: Big Night for Eastern Conference Playoff Race originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Wed, 18 Feb 2009 01:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.