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NHL Wednesday review: Wild build their lead

The Minnesota Wild extended their lead at the top of the Central Division with a win over reigning Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche. 

The New York Islanders padded their Wild Card lead in the East, topping Washington Capitals in a shoot-out and the Florida Panthers used overtime to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs which kept their playoff hopes alive after a poor run of form. 

Also on Wednesday, the Calgary Flames re-ignited their playoff chances by beating the in-form Los Angeles Kings which left them trailing the Vegas Golden Knights for the Pacific Division lead. 

At the top of the NHL standings, the Boston Bruins are set to win the Presidents' Trophy as their historic season continues. 

Wild hold off Avs

The Wild's victory over the Avalanche took them three points ahead of Colorado and the Dallas Stars for first in the Central Division, though, the Avalanche and Stars each have one game in hand. 

Minnesota (44-22-9) are 5-0-1 over their past six games and have earned at least one point in 20 of their past 21 (16-1-4). 

Hitting form at just the right time, the Wild are +130 to hold on to top spot in the Central Division and +1500 to win the Stanley Cup which would be their first. 

Islanders pad Wild Card lead

The New York Islanders (39-28-9) increased their lead in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race with a 2-1 shootout win against the Capitals. 

It was the first time in six attempts that New York had won a shootout this season, but it couldn't have come at a better time as they moved five points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first Wild Card into the playoffs from the East. 

The Islanders missed the playoffs completely last season after making the Eastern Conference final in two consecutive seasons prior. 

They are +1600 to win the Eastern Conference this season and +3000 to be crowned Stanley Cup Champions. 

That is an opportunity which the Capitals (34-32-9) are unlikely to have after losing five of six (1-3-2) and now find themselves five points behind the Penguins for the second Wild Card, having played one more game. 

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Panthers remain in race

The Panthers (37-31-7) remained in the race for a Wild Card spot from the Eastern Conference, by snapping a four-game losing streak against the high-flying Maple Leafs. 

Florida are one point behind the Penguins, who have one game in hand, for the second Wild Card into the playoffs from the East. 

The Panthers have seven games to play, the Penguins eight, and with the Islanders looking secure in first spot, the pair look set to do battle for the opportunity to play the run-away NHL leaders Boston in the first round of the post-season. 

Flames re-ignited

Over in the Western Conference Wild Card race, the Flames (34-26-15) have won two consecutively to move within two points of the Winnipeg Jets who have lost twice in a row in the race for the second Wild Card place.

The Flames' latest victory was an impressive one, ending the Kings' 12-game point streak and it makes them +175 to qualify for the playoffs. 

Both the Flames and Jets (-120 to reach the playoffs) have seven games remaining. 

Neither is likely to catch Seattle Kraken for the first Wild Card position with the Kraken holding a three-point lead over the Jets and five on the Flames, but also have two games in hand. 

It means the two will fight for the single spot in the remaining couple of weeks, but also need to look over their shoulder as the Nashville Predators (+360 to make the playoffs) are just three points outside of the second Wild Card but have two games in hand. 

LA remains behind Vegas

The defeat for the Kings meant they remain in second place in the Pacific Division which is currently being led by Vegas Golden Knights. 

Vegas (46-22-6) are two points ahead of the Kings (43-21-10) and with the same games played (74), the Golden Knights are -170 to win the division and Kings +350

After going 8-1-1 in their last ten games, the Edmonton Oilers also have their sights set on first place in the Pacific. 

The Oilers, +325 to win the division, trail the Kings by one point and the Golden Knights by three but have played one game more.  

Bruins set to clinch

The Bruins (57-12-5) can clinch the Presidents' Trophy as the team with the best regular season record and set a franchise record for wins in a season (58) by defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets at home. 

Boston are 30-4-3 at TD Garden this season and the winning of the Presidents' will give them home ice advantage throughout the playoffs which they are +300 to win and be crowned Stanley Cup Champions for the first time since 2011. 

The Bruins need five wins from their final eight games to match the all-time NHL record for most victories in a single season, first achieved by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1995/96 season and equalled by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018/19.

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