For a host of playoff bubble teams facing dire situations, Tuesday was not a good night.
With the Dallas Stars, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets all scrambling to secure tickets to the postseason dance, those four teams somehow managed to go a combined 0-3-1. Two of those teams, the Rangers and the Islanders, could not take advantage of weak opponents in the form of the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively.
The Isles did pick up the lone point among the four teams in a shootout loss to the Canes, and it was enough to propel them into the postseason for the first time since 2007. While his name rarely comes up in discussions as a possible Jack Adams Award winner as coach of the year, is it not time to at least give Jack Capuano a little love given how low the expectations were for the Isles this season? (And, as if you needed to check, the Isles were able to avoid a regulation loss Wednesday with 1:01 left in the third period on John Tavares' 27th goal of the season.)
Of the losses that were most painful among this gang of four, Dallas' 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks was a killer. The Stars gave up two goals in a 30-second span in the second half of the third period and couldn't get the equalizer to at least push the game to extra time.
The Stars are in 10th place in the Western Conference, three points out of eighth with two games to play. They must beat the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and then hope that Saturday's season finale against the ninth-place Detroit Red Wings has meaning.
Like Dallas, Columbus has two games remaining on its schedule, whereas Detroit has three. The Jets, meanwhile, saw any hopes of a Southeast title go up in smoke Tuesday when they were beaten 5-3 by the surging Washington Capitals, who secured the top spot in the division with the win. The injury-plagued Jets battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to make it 2-2 in the second period, only to give up two more goals in less than three minutes late in the middle frame.
The Jets are almost out of time as they trail the Ottawa Senators and the Rangers, who lost 3-2 to the Panthers on Tuesday, by one point. But the Jets have only one game remaining, while the Senators have three left and the Rangers two.