The 2019 NHL playoff field grew to five teams on Saturday night.
The Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets became the latest franchises to clinch postseason spots with victories over the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators, respectively.
Although Boston put up seven goals, Winnipeg had arguably the better playoff-clinching performance, as Kyle Connor netted a hat trick and Connor Hellebuyck recorded a shutout against its biggest Central Division rival.
Going into Sunday, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston are locked into the Eastern Conference playoff field, while Winnipeg, the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks are set for the Western Conference playoffs.
Saturday's NHL Scores
New Jersey 2, Arizona 1 (Final/Shootout)
New York Islanders 4, Philadelphia 2
Colorado 4, Chicago 2
Ottawa 4, Edmonton 3 (Final/OT)
Winnipeg 5, Nashville 0
New York Rangers 2, Toronto 1 (Final/OT)
Montreal 7, Buffalo 4
Boston 7, Florida 3
Carolina 5, Minnesota 1
St. Louis 4. Tampa Bay 3
Pittsburgh 3, Dallas 2
Calgary 3, Vancouver 1
Detroit 3, Vegas 2 (Final/OT)
Los Angeles 4, Anaheim 3 (Final/Shootout)
Connor's Hat Trick Powers Jets
Rangers Knock Off Leafs in OT
Kopitar's Ridiculous Shootout Move
Zacha Wins Shootout for Devils
Red Wings Steal OT Win in Vegas
McDavid Ties Career High in Points
Tkachuk's OT Winner for Ottawa
McCann Spins and Scores
Lehkonen Finishes Off Montreal's Slick Passing Move
Bailey Scores a Pair for Isles
Gostisbehere's Rocket from the Point
Jets Clinch Playoff Berth by Beating Division Rival
Winnipeg played with a higher level of intensity Saturday, as it stormed past Nashville to secure its place in the postseason.
Jets forward Blake Wheeler went as far to say the 5-0 thumping of the Predators was the team's best game of the season, per the team's official Twitter account.
"Everyone was fired up for this one, we fed off that," Wheeler said. "I thought it was our best game of the year. We had four lines and six defensemen all over them all night. That's a real weapon for us."
Connor was the star of Saturday's game, as he netted three goals—two of which came in third period.
With their playoff berth secured, Connor and his teammates are focused on rounding into form and putting in more performances like the one they produced against Nashville, per the team's official Twitter account.
"We want to get in that form, and it's starting to shake out and see who we're going to play so we can structure our game and get ready for the push," Connor said.
Since the Jets are seven points back of Calgary for the No. 1 seed in the West, they are likely going to face the top wild-card team in the first round of the playoffs.
The Dallas Stars hold that spot, but they are only two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche, which means Winnipeg's first-round playoff opponent is far from determined.
Bruins Become 2nd Atlantic Division Team to Qualify for Postseason
The second-best team in the East for most of the season became the second franchise in the conference to lock up a playoff berth by way of a 7-3 win over Florida.
Seven players scored in the victory for the Bruins, who were one of two teams to reach the 100-point mark Saturday.
"We seem to have hit it here the last month," Cassidy said of the secondary scoring his team has received. "So that's good. I think every team would tell you they don't want to rely on three or four players to score."
By playing so well for an extended period of time, the Bruins avoided the chaotic push for playoff spots at the end of the regular season and can focus on preparing for the postseason, as Zdeno Chara noted to Eric Russo of the team's official website:
"You can see that every year teams are really battling for every point to get into the playoffs. It's a grind, so if you don't play consistently well and strong throughout the whole year, it's gonna catch up and then you have to gain some ground.
"It's nice to be in a position where we have that spot. But at the same time, we want to continue to play well and play hard."
Since Tampa Bay is already locked into the top spot in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins will likely face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first-round matchup of Atlantic Division squads.
Sunday's NHL Schedule
Philadelphia at Washington (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
Arizona at New York Islanders (3 p.m. ET)
Montreal at Carolina (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Colorado at Chicago (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Columbus at Vancouver (10 p.m. ET)
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