With 23 days left in the regular season, the playoff races in each conference simply are on fire. Almost every game has added significance, with points at such a premium, as teams jockey for positioning. NHL.com is here to give you a Down the Stretch daily that will highlight what you need to know about the games that directly can impact the playoff races.
Here is the installment for Saturday, March 19:
ANAHEIM (38-27-5, 81 points) at LOS ANGELES (40-26-5, 85 points)
Where they stand: The Kings are fifth in the Western Conference while the Ducks are 10th.
What's at stake: Anaheim will move ahead of Calgary with a win and would end the night in eighth place if Nashville does not win in regulation. Los Angeles will be within two points of Phoenix for fourth place with a victory but could be passed by Dallas with a regulation loss.
How it's going: The Ducks have won three of four, including a 2-1 victory against St. Louis on Wednesday. The Kings came home from a perfect four-game road trip and had one of their worst performances of the season Thursday against the Blues (a 4-0 loss).
Upcoming: Anaheim welcomes Calgary to Honda Center on Sunday and then goes on the road for three games in four nights against Dallas, Nashville and Chicago. Los Angeles has three more at home next week against Calgary, San Jose and Colorado.
PHILADELPHIA (43-19-8, 94 points) at DALLAS (38-25-8, 84 points)
Where they stand: The Flyers lead the Eastern Conference while the Stars are sixth in the West.
What's at stake: Philadelphia can increase its lead on Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division to six points and its advantage on Washington in the conference to two points with a win. If the Flyers don't win, their game Tuesday against the Capitals will be for first place in the East. Dallas can move into fifth place with a win and a regulation loss by Los Angeles.
How it's going: The Flyers have points in five straight games (3-0-2) since a four-game losing streak. The Stars drilled Chicago 5-0 after losing three of four at the start of this homestand.
Upcoming: It is rivalry week for Philadelphia as the Flyers play host to Washington and Pittsburgh at Wells Fargo Center. Dallas finishes the homestand Wednesday against Anaheim before a tough five-game stretch on the road.
DETROIT (43-20-8, 94 points) at NASHVILLE (36-25-10, 82 points)
Where they stand: The Red Wings are second in the West while the Predators are in ninth place.
What's at stake: Detroit can move six points clear of San Jose in the race for the No. 2 seed with a win and a Sharks regulation loss. Nashville will finish the night in the top eight with a win, moving past Calgary. An overtime or shootout loss puts the Predators in front of the Flames but not the Ducks if Anaheim wins.
How it's going: The Red Wings have followed a four-game losing streak with four consecutive victories. The Predators have three of four, including a 4-3 victory Thursday against Boston.
Upcoming: Detroit has a five-game homestand, beginning with big games against Pittsburgh and Vancouver on Monday and Wednesday. Nashville travels to Buffalo on Sunday then comes home for four games.
BOSTON (39-21-10, 88 points) at TORONTO (31-31-10, 72 points)
Where they stand: The Bruins are third in the East while the Maple Leafs are 11th.
What's at stake: Boston can expand its lead on Montreal for first place in the Northeast Division to five points. Toronto could be within two points of a playoff spot with a victory and a regulation loss by Buffalo. Also, Tomas Kaberle returns to Air Canada Centre since being traded to Boston.
How it's going: The Bruins have lost five of six, including a 4-3 overtime defeat in Nashville on Thursday. The Maple Leafs have dropped five of seven (2-4-1) and were defeated 4-0 by Florida on Thurday.
Upcoming: Boston is home for three games next week with visits from New Jersey, Montreal and the N.Y. Rangers. Toronto travels to Minnesota, Colorado and Detroit in the coming week.
ATLANTA (30-29-12, 72 points) at BUFFALO (34-28-8, 76 points)
Where they stand: The Sabres are in eighth place in the East while the Thrashers are 10th.
What's at stake: Atlanta would be two points from the top eight with a victory. Buffalo can be two points shy of the Rangers for seventh and four clear of ninth-place Carolina with a win.
How it's going: The Thrashers have two overtime wins against Philadelphia and two losses to New Jersey in their past four games. The Sabres have alternated wins and losses for six straight contests.
Upcoming: Atlanta travels to Long Island after a four-day break and then welcomes Vancouver and Ottawa to Philips Arena. Buffalo plays host to Nashville on Sunday before travelling to Montreal on Tuesday.
COLUMBUS (32-28-10, 74 points) at MINNESOTA (35-29-7, 77 points)
Where they stand: The Blue Jackets are in 12th in the West. The Wild are in 11th place.
What's at stake: Both of these teams have essentially reached must-win territory. Minnesota could be within four points of eighth with a win and a Nashville loss.
How it's going: The Blue Jackets have lost eight of their nine games in March. The Wild have lost four straight contests -- all to teams ahead of them in the West.
Upcoming: Columbus welcomes New Jersey to Nationwide Arena on Sunday before road games at Colorado and Phoenix. Minnesota has three more home games in the next week -- Montreal, Toronto and St. Louis.
TAMPA BAY (39-22-10, 88 points) at OTTAWA (26-36-9, 61 points)
Where they stand: The Lightning are in fifth place in the East while the Senators are 15th.
What's at stake: A win would have Tampa Bay level with Pittsburgh (though the Penguins have a game in hand) and four points back of Washington for first place in the Southeast.
How it's going: The Lightning have won only twice this month (2-4-3).
Upcoming: Tampa Bay has four of the next five contests at home with games against the Islanders, Hurricanes (home and home), Senators and Penguins.
ST. LOUIS (32-30-9, 73 points) at SAN JOSE (41-23-8, 90 points)
Where they stand: The Sharks are third in the West while the Blues are in 13th place.
What's at stake: San Jose would be two points behind Detroit for second with a win and a regulation loss by the Red Wings. The Sharks would be in danger of conceding the Pacific Division lead on Sunday with a loss.
How it's going: The Sharks have won two straight, beating both the current and former Minnesota franchises.
Upcoming: San Jose has three days off before three games in four nights -- home against Calgary and road contests at Los Angeles and Phoenix.