The Red Wings reach the playoffs for the 21st consecutive season…The Sharks move into first in the Pacific with a win over the Avalanche… Stamkos sets franchise record in Lightning win over Flyers…The Panthers face a pivotal road trip…Sabres and Capitals to square off in important game tonight…Radulov fitting in well with Predators…Blackhawks power-play a concern…Wild eliminated from playoff race.
DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings clinched a playoff berth for the 21st consecutive season with a 7-2 beatdown of the hapless Columbus Blue Jackets.
MERCURYNEWS.COM: The San Jose Sharks vaulted into first in the Pacific Division with a convincing 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, whose best players are failing to rise to the occasion with the playoffs on the line.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Steven Stamkos potted his franchise-record 53rd goal of the season as the Lightning down the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3, a loss which also raised concern over the health of Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who was seen limping following that game.
MIAMI HERALD: The Florida Panthers embark on the most important road trip of the season, which could ultimately determine if they’ll clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2000. Three of the four games are against bottom feeders (Montreal, Columbus and Minnesota), wrapping up against the Detroit Red Wings. While the schedule favors them, the Panthers must not take those three teams for granted.
BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres square off against the Washington Capitals tonight in a game which could have playoff implications for both, as the winner will take over sole possession of eighth overall in the Eastern Conference.
THE TENNESSEAN: Alexander Radulov’s transition back into the Nashville Predators lineup has been a smooth one so far.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks woeful power-play is a concern for head coach Joel Quenneville.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild have been mathematically eliminated from the 2012 NHL playoff race. A Wild blogger recently noted the Wild were the first team in NHL history to be in first place by December 1st, only to end up missing the playoffs.