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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Hawks-Wings on NBC kicks off wild final day

Friday, 04.06.2012 / 11:00 PM / Schedule

For the first time since 1928, the NHL's regular season is ending on a Saturday -- and the final 12 hours of the season will determine who plays whom when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin next week.

The action begins at 1 p.m. ET when Chicago visits Detroit in a game that will determine where both teams finish. A regulation win will move the Hawks into fifth place in the West, ahead of Detroit. A win by the Wings could move them past Nashville into fourth place.

NBC will televise the game in the United States; TSN2 will air the game in Canada.

The action continues at 3 p.m. ET when New Jersey hosts Ottawa, which needs a point to lock up seventh place. An hour later, the NBC Sports Network will air the first game of a tripleheader as Philadelphia visits Pittsburgh in a warm-up for their playoff series next week. Also at 4 p.m., Northeast Division winner Boston hosts Buffalo and Anaheim ends its season in Calgary.

The New York Rangers can clinch the regular-season title for the first time in 18 years by beating the visiting Washington Capitals in a game that can be seen in the U.S. on the NBC Sports Network beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. The eighth-place Caps need a win to have a chance of moving higher.

Three more games begin at 7. Toronto visits Montreal in a game that can be seen in Canada on CBC. The New York Islanders end their season at Columbus, while Winnipeg hosts Tampa Bay and 59-goal scorer Steven Stamkos -- who's trying to become just the second player in the last 16 years to break the 60-goal mark.

A half-hour later, Southeast leader Florida can clinch the first division title in franchise history by getting at least a point at home against Carolina. The Panthers are already assured of their first playoff berth since 2000.

Two games with postseason implications face off at 8 p.m. ET. Phoenix can assure itself of the Pacific Division title by winning in Minnesota, while St. Louis needs a win in Dallas to have a chance to finish first in the West.

An hour later, Nashville visits Colorado -- if Detroit wins, the Predators need a point to finish fourth in the West and get the home-ice edge against the Wings. At 10 p.m. ET, Vancouver hosts Edmonton in the second half of CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" doubleheader; a win will assure the Canucks of first place in the West.

The 1,230th and final game of the regular season faces off at 10:30 p.m. ET when San Jose hosts Los Angeles in the rematch of the Sharks' 6-5 shootout win at L.A. two nights earlier. Depending on how the Coyotes fare in Minnesota, the winner could capture the Pacific Division title. At worst, the winner will finish seventh and the loser drops to eighth. Viewers in the U.S. can see the game on the NBC Sports Network.

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round