Patrice Bergeron's 18th goal of the season last night with less than 30 seconds remaining in overtime salted away a crucial 1-0 win for Boston last night to keep them in possession of a ticket to the playoffs.
Atlanta's win over Toronto pulled them back to within two points of eighth place behind the Bruins, but officially eliminated Toronto from the playoffs and left the Leafs (69 points) three points behind the Lightning, Islanders and Panthers with only five games remaining. Because Columbus beat Tampa, they are now just about out of reach for the Leafs with 77 points with the same amount of games played (77) as Toronto. They can still pass Columbus mathematically, but it would take a 5-0 run and complete Columbus collapse in their games to do it.
The Islanders blew a 2-0 lead over the Rangers in a 4-3 loss, so the Blueshirts have quietly crept to within four points of Boston and eighth place.
As said earlier, the race for Boston's first pick in 2010 to go inside the top-two will go down to the wire. An intrepid math whiz who goes by the handle orrovergretzky keeps track of the magic numbers over at Hockey's Future Boards. Here's his latest assessment of what it will take for Toronto to secure that 29th-place finish Bruins Nation is hoping for:
Magic numbers to clinch a top 2 pick (excluding the lottery)
Any combination of:
Toronto losses and Tampa wins totalling 4 (6 GR)
Toronto losses and Islanders wins totalling 3.5 (6 GR)
Toronto losses and Florida wins totalling 3.5 (7 GR)
Toronto losses and Carolina wins totalling 3 (6 GR)
Toronto losses and Columbus wins totalling 2 (6 GR)
Toronto losses and Rangers wins totalling .5 (6 GR)
CLINCHED TOP 8 PICK
Leafs remaining Schedule vsBuf; vsBos; vsPhi; @NYR; @Mtl
Bruins own pick is currently 15th. (Depending on playoff finish)
You can follow that thread here: