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Vegas Golden Knights Clinch Postseason Berth; Latest 2021 NHL Playoff Picture

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIIApril 22, 2021

Vegas Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault, center, celebrates after scoring against the San Jose Sharks during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

The Vegas Golden Knights became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff spot with a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. 

Vegas could have punched its ticket on Tuesday if the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Los Angeles Kings, but they fell 4-1. 

Either way, the NHL's newest team is headed to the postseason for the fourth straight season. The Golden Knights, three years removed from a Stanley Cup Final berth in their inaugural season, will be looking to improve on a Conference Finals appearance last year.

This year's playoff format is different than usual. With the league divided into four location-based divisions, the top four teams in each group will make the postseason. The first two rounds of the playoffs will consist of intra-division games and the advancing teams will then be reseeded based on regular-season point total. 

Here is a look at what teams would make the playoffs if the season ended today: 

West Division

Vegas Golden Knights: 68 points (33-11-2)

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Colorado Avalanche: 64 points (30-9-4)

Minnesota Wild: 61 points (29-13-3)

Arizona Coyotes: 45 points (20-22-5)

 

Central Division

Carolina Hurricanes: 65 points (30-10-5)

Florida Panthers: 65 points (30-12-5)

Tampa Bay Lightning: 62 points (30-14-2)

Nashville Predators: 52 points (25-21-2)

Dallas Stars: 50 points (19-14-12)

 

East Division

Washington Capitals: 62 points (29-13-4)

New York Islanders: 62 points (29-13-4)

Pittsburgh Penguins: 61 points (29-14-3)

Boston Bruins: 58 points (26-12-6)

North Division

Toronto Maple Leafs: 61 points (28-13-5)

Winnipeg Jets: 47 points (27-15-3)

Edmonton Oilers: 56 points (27-15-2)

Montreal Canadiens: 47 points (19-15-9)

The Golden Knights are far from the same team that ran all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season as a franchise, but their roster has put them atop the league table all the same. For the second successive season, the Golden Knights have surged past the competition due to the power of Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, who served as the team's most productive skaters this season. 

Stone is among the league leaders in assists, with 35 helpers to go with 18 goalswhile Pacioretty has found the net 22 times and helped out on 24 goals. Shea Theodore is also with Stone on the league leaderboards with 32 assists to go with six goals. 

Vegas also welcomed Alex Pietrangelo as a headline signing in free agency. He helped bolster the defense in front of two starting-caliber netminders in Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. 

All of that has combined to help the Golden Knights maintain a postseason presence for the fourth year in as many tries since joining the league.