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NHL Monday review: Avalanche win sixth straight

The reigning Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche (41-22-6) moved to within one point of the Dallas Stars at the top of the Central Division with a sixth straight victory.

The Avalanche hosted the Blackhawks without star defenceman Cale Makar, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs last season when the Avalanche were crowned Stanley Cup Champions.

Listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury, Makar leads the NHL averaging 26:36 in ice time per game and is third on the Avalanche with 61 points and second with 45 assists.

Goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 27 saves to tie the NHL shutout lead with New York Islanders' Ilya Sorokin and Washington Capitals Darcy Kuemper, who each have five.

Colorado has outscored its opponents 27-12 during the winning run and registered a powerplay goal in eight straight games, going 10 for 26 during that span.

Top scorer Mikko Rantanen has scored in five straight games, taking his tally to 47 which ranks third in the NHL behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (58) and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins (48).

The Avalanche have hit form at just the right time and are +575 to go on to retain the Stanley Cup this season.

Panthers roar into Wild Card position

The Florida Panthers (36-27-7) extended their point streak to seven games (6-0-1) with a 5-2 victory over Detroit Red Wings, and with Pittsburgh Penguins (34-26-10) losing a fourth straight, 2-1 to Ottawa Senators, the Panthers jump ahead of them into the second Wild Card from the Eastern Conference.

The in-form Panthers are now one point ahead of the Penguins who are in danger of having their NHL record streak of consecutive playoffs appearances ended at 16.

Against the Red Wings, Captain Aleksander Barkov became the Panthers' all-time leading scorer with an assist which took his tally to 614 (238 goals, 376 assists), passing Jonathan Huberdeau (613 points; 198 goals, 415 assists).

The Panthers are -160 to reach the playoffs and the Penguins are +110, but for Pittsburgh to do it they will need to end their skid soon and improve at both ends of the ice after being outscored 18-7 on the losing run.

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Oilers widen lead on Kraken

With an important 5-4 overtime win over San Jose Sharks, the third-placed Edmonton Oilers (40-23-8) widened their lead over Seattle Kraken for an automatic playoff position in the Pacific Division to five points.

Kraken, fourth, hold the first Wild Card spot from the Western Conference, but the Oilers would like to avoid that battle if possible.

Edmonton also kept pace with those above them and are four points behind Los Angeles Kings and leaders Vegas Golden Knights who are level on points.

After winning four in a row and with the top two-point scorers in the NHL, Connor McDavid (136 points; 58 goals, 78 assists) and Leon Draisaitl (106 points; 44 goals, 62 assists) in fine form the Oilers are +275 to win the wide-open Pacific Division.

Kings on the charge

The LA Kings (41-20-10) are on a 10-game point streak and one shy of matching the longest point steak in their history after hammering the Calgary Flames 8-2.

The win tied them with Vegas (43-21-6) on 92 points at the top of the Metropolitan Division, though, the Golden Knights have a game in hand. The Kings are 8-0-2 during their streak, and goalie Pheonix Copley is 5-0-2 in his past even starts.

Also impressively, the Kings are 9-0-2 at home since the recent All-Star break which makes them +200 to win the Pacific Division while the Golden Knights are +100.

Flames extinguished

The Flames' (31-25-15) wide-margin defeat to the Kings was a damaging one in their pursuit of the Winnipeg Jets (39-29-3) who hold a four-point lead over their Canadian rivals for the second Wild Card from the Western Conference.

If Calgary are to make the playoffs (+280), they must quickly improve on their 4-4-2 record over the past ten games which is an inconsistency that has blighted them all season long.

The Jets, -200 to earn a place in the post-season are 4-5-1 over their last 10, and so are struggling for form themselves.

Also, in the hunt and aiming to rise above the two Canadian sides into a Wild Card position is the Nashville Predators (34-26-8) who after being written off a couple of weeks ago, are five points behind the Jets but with three games in hand and +625 to reach the playoffs.

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