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Where do Knights stand in playoff race after successful road trip?

Updated March 31, 2024 - 1:28 pm

The Golden Knights understood the task in front of them when they flew to St. Louis on March 24.

A good road trip would all but wrap up their sixth trip to the playoffs in seven seasons. A poor one could put their postseason spot in jeopardy.

The Knights return home a week later after passing the test with flying colors. They earned seven of a possible eight points on the four-game trip, removing almost all doubt about their playoff fate. They should get a chance to defend their Stanley Cup championship.

“That’s the time of the year we’ve got to get into another gear here,” right wing Jonathan Marchessault said.

The Knights found it.

They were close to running the table, but they allowed Nashville to rally from a three-goal deficit in the third period Tuesday in a 5-4 overtime loss.

The Knights still have plenty to feel good about with eight games left in the regular season. They’re on a six-game point streak and are 8-2-1 their last 11 games.

“We have resilience. This is a room full of champions,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We got guys in there that will play to the last whistle.”

The Knights had a four-point lead on the St. Louis Blues for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference when they left for the trip. They also trailed the Los Angeles Kings by two points for third place in the Pacific Division.

A lot has changed since then. Here’s an updated look at where things stand:

1. Back in the top three

The Knights’ stellar trip has them back in one of the Pacific’s three automatic playoff spots for the first time since the All-Star break.

They hold a three-point lead over the Kings, who have dropped to the second wild-card spot. Los Angeles does have a game in hand and could still make things interesting.

Just two of the Kings’ final nine opponents are in line to make the playoffs. The Knights, on the other hand, face four foes expected to make the postseason their final eight games.

2. Home-ice advantage still in play

The Knights play three important division games down the stretch against Edmonton and Vancouver (twice).

Those will play a huge role in where the team finishes in the standings.

The Knights could still win the Pacific for the second straight year. Their hopes are hanging by a thread, however. The Knights need to beat the Canucks twice in regulation and receive help to have a chance.

Vancouver has a six-point lead on the Oilers and a 10-point lead on the Knights. The division winner will face one of the two Western Conference wild-card teams in the first round.

The Knights could also still move up to second place and earn home-ice advantage for a series against the third-place team. Edmonton is four points ahead in the standings with two games in hand.

The Oilers do face some difficult opponents down the stretch. Edmonton is in Dallas on Wednesday and hosts Colorado on Friday.

3. Potential playoff opponents

The Knights’ first-round foe is difficult to project because of how tight the Western Conference standings are. Might as well pull teams from a hat as things stand.

The Knights would face the Oilers if the playoffs started Monday in a rematch of last year’s second-round series that ended in six games.

Dropping to a wild-card spot would mean facing one of the two Western Conference division winners. That’s Vancouver as of now as well as Dallas, who the Knights beat in the Western Conference Finals last season.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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