The Ottawa Senators have a tough road ahead but they remain alive heading into their game against the New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET, TSN). Ottawa trails the Columbus Blue Jackets by five points for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
In an Atlantic Division matchup, the Detroit Red Wings, who have a one-point lead on Columbus for the top wild-card spot and are two points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, will host the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN2).
The two Southern California teams are in action; the Anaheim Ducks, who have a three-point lead on the San Jose Sharks atop the Pacific Division, host the Edmonton Oilers. The Los Angeles Kings, who virtually are locked into third place in the Pacific, host the Phoenix Coyotes. Phoenix fell behind the Dallas Stars on Tuesday in the race for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference by losing 2-1 to the Winnipeg Jets in a shootout. Each team has 85 points; however the Stars, 5-0 winners against the Washington Capitals, have a game in hand.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs consist of 16 teams, eight in each conference, but it is now division-based and a wild-card system has been added.
The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It is possible for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.
Seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second-fewest points.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. There is no reseeding as the tournament moves to the second round and winners of that series advance to the conference championship series and the right to play in the Stanley Cup Final.