With 16 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 26:
ANAHEIM DUCKS (41-28-5, 87 points) at CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (40-25-8, 88 points)
Where they stand: Chicago is seventh in the Western Conference while Anaheim is eighth.
What's at stake: The winner definitely stays in the top eight -- Chicago could vault to fifth place or Anaheim could move up to seventh (provided the Ducks win in regulation). The Ducks could drop to ninth with a loss and a win by Dallas.
How it's going: Anaheim is 8-3 this month, including wins in four of five. Chicago has won two straight since an ugly 5-0 loss to Dallas last week.
Upcoming: The Ducks have Colorado at home before road contests at San Jose and Calgary next week. The Blackhawks have three straight on the road, including back-to-back games in Detroit and Boston.
DALLAS STARS (38-25-10, 86 points) at NASHVILLE PREDATORS (40-25-10, 90 points)
Where they stand: Nashville is sixth in the West while Dallas is in ninth place.
What's at stake: The Predators could be a point shy of fourth or three from second in the West with a win and regulation losses by the right teams in front of them. They’d fall no further than seventh with a loss. The Stars would move into eighth place with a win and a Ducks loss, but a win and a Blackhawks loss leaves them in ninth.
How it's going: Dallas has lost four of five, but the Stars have earned a point in the past two. Nashville has won five games in a row, including victories against Detroit, Boston and Anaheim.
Upcoming: This is the first of five straight on the road for the Stars and all of them are against teams in the top eight in the West. The next four are against the rest of the Pacific Division. The Predators have Vancouver and Detroit at home in the coming week with a trip to Colorado in between.
SAN JOSE SHARKS (43-23-9, 95 points) at PHOENIX COYOTES (41-24-11, 93 points)
Where they stand: San Jose is third in the West and Phoenix is fourth.
What's at stake: The Coyotes can be level with the Sharks in points with a regulation win. San Jose has a game in hand but the two teams still have to play two more times. The Sharks have won the first three meetings, so this game could have a psychological effect on the final two clashes.
How it's going: San Jose is an NHL-best 22-4-4 since mid-January, and goaltender Antti Niemi has started all 30 games. Phoenix has won seven of eight, including the past two.
Upcoming: The Sharks have four days off before welcoming Dallas, Anaheim and Los Angeles to San Jose for a three-game homestand. The Coyotes play host to Dallas on Tuesday and Colorado on Friday.
NEW YORK RANGERS (40-30-5, 85 points) at BOSTON BRUINS (41-22-10, 92 points)
Where they stand: Boston is in third in the Eastern Conference. New York is seventh.
What's at stake: The Bruins could be seven points clear of the Canadiens for the top spot in the Northeast Division with a win and a regulation loss for Montreal. The Rangers could be even with the Canadiens on points with the same results, but no points and a win for Buffalo would bump them to eighth place.
How it's going: New York had won five straight, but dropped a 2-1 decision in a shootout to Ottawa on Thursday. Boston has won the first two games of this homestand against New Jersey and Montreal by a combined 11-1 margin.
Upcoming: The Rangers have back-to-back road games in Buffalo and on Long Island on Wednesday and Thursday. The Bruins are in Philadelphia on Sunday night before three more home games against Chicago, Toronto and Atlanta.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS (43-22-10, 96 points) at MONTREAL CANADIENS (40-28-7, 87 points)
Where they stand: Washington is second in the East. Montreal is in sixth place.
What's at stake: The Capitals can pull even with the Flyers in points with a win and a regulation loss for Philadelphia. The Canadiens could do the same with the Lightning in the race for fifth with the same results.
How it's going: Washington has won 10 of 12 this month, but dropped a 2-0 contest in Ottawa on Saturday night -- the 10th time the Capitals have been shutout this season. Montreal has been shutout in back-to-back games, including a 7-0 loss to rival Boston.
Upcoming: The Capitals have three in a row at home -- Carolina, Columbus and Buffalo. The Canadiens welcome Atlanta to Bell Centre on Tuesday before road games at Carolina and New Jersey.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (34-31-10, 78 points) at DETROIT RED WINGS (43-22-5, 95 points)
Where they stand: The Maple Leafs are in 10th place in the East and the Red Wings are in second in the West.
What's at stake: Detroit needs a win to ensure it remains in second. Toronto could be within three points of a playoff spot with a win and a regulation defeat for Buffalo.
How it's going: The Red Wings have had a roller coaster month -- they lost four in a row, won four straight and now have lost the past three. The Maple Leafs have won three straight and five of seven.
Upcoming: Detroit has two more games at Joe Louis Arena, Chicago and St. Louis, before a trip to Nashville next weekend. Toronto has a huge game against Buffalo at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday before visits to Boston and Ottawa.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (39-24-11, 89 points) at CAROLINA HURRICANES (35-29-10, 80 points)
Where they stand: Tampa Bay is fifth in the East while Carolina is ninth in the conference.
What's at stake: Home ice in the first round may have slipped away for the Lightning, but they need to hold off the Canadiens, Rangers and Sabres for fifth place. The Hurricanes could be within a point of the top eight with a win and a Buffalo loss in regulation.
How it's going: Tampa Bay has lost six of seven, and the NHL's leading goal-scorer, Steven Stamkos has only three in the past 20 games. Carolina has won three straight and four of five, including a 4-3 victory against the Lightning on Friday night in Tampa, Fla.
Upcoming: The Lightning have games against Ottawa and Pittsburgh at St. Pete Times Forum before a trip to Minnesota next weekend. The Hurricanes go to Washington on Tuesday before welcoming Montreal to Raleigh on Wednesday.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS (34-35-5, 73 points) at BUFFALO SABRES (37-28-9, 83 points)
Where they stand: The Sabres are eighth in the East. The Devils are 12th.
What's at stake: New Jersey likely needs to win out, but even Ilya Kovalchuk conceded his team is probably out of the playoff picture. Buffalo can move into seventh place with a win and a regulation loss by the Rangers.
How it's going: The Devils have now lost four of five after falling 1-0 in a shootout to Pittsburgh on Friday night. The Sabres are 3-0-1 since a 1-0 loss to the Hurricanes early last week.
Upcoming: New Jersey will welcome the Islanders, Flyers and Canadiens to Prudential Center next week. Buffalo goes to Toronto and Washington with a visit from the N.Y. Rangers in the middle.
CALGARY FLAMES (37-28-11, 85 points) at EDMONTON OILERS (23-41-10, 56 points)
Where they stand: Calgary is in 10th place in the West while Edmonton is in 15th.
What's at stake: The Flames might need to win all six of their remaining games to make the playoffs. They could be level on points with the eighth-place team at the end of the night with a win and losses by the Ducks (in regulation) and the Stars. Dallas will have three games in hand and Anaheim will have two.
How it's going: Calgary has three straight games and five of the past six, including an 0-1-2 swing through Cailfornia.
Upcoming: The Flames play host to Anaheim on Wednesday and visit St. Louis on Friday.
COLORADO AVALANCHE (28-37-8, 64 points) at LOS ANGELES KINGS (42-26-6, 90 points)
Where they stand: The Kings are fifth in the West while the Avalanche are 14th.
What's at stake: Los Angeles could be within three points of third place in the conference and first in the division with a win and regulation victory by the Coyotes.
How it's going: The Kings have won six of eight, including a 4-3 victory against San Jose on Thursday.
Upcoming: Los Angeles travels to Edmonton and Vancouver before a showdown with Dallas at Staples Center next Saturday.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (44-19-10, 98 points) at NEW YORK ISLANDERS (29-34-12, 70 points)
Where they stand: Philadelphia leads the East by two points over Washington and Pittsburgh while New York is in 13th place.
What's at stake: The Flyers need a win to ensure they stay ahead of the Capitals and Penguins in points (they will have one game in hand on Pittsburgh and two on Washington at the end of the night).
How it's going: Philadelphia has points in eight straight games, but four of them have been losses (4-0-4).
Upcoming: The Flyers have home games against Boston and Atlanta and road contests at Pittsburgh and New Jersey.