The San Jose Sharks will get one last crack at a possible Pacific Division title in the finale of the NHL's five-game schedule Wednesday night.
San Jose (49-21-9) can move within a point of first place in the Pacific when it visits the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Anaheim (51-20-8) is three points ahead of the Sharks and each team has three games remaining.
The Ducks would clinch the Pacific Division title if they defeat the Sharks in any fashion. That result also would clinch a first-round matchup between the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, with the Sharks having home-ice advantage.
The night gets underway with the Chicago Blackhawks seeking their fourth consecutive victory despite injuries to forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Chicago, which trails the Colorado Avalanche for second place in the Central Division by four points with three games to go, hosts the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal resides in second place in the Atlantic Division, two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Detroit Red Wings, who hold the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, will visit the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center. The Red Wings would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they get at least one point against the Penguins.
Detroit is one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who will take on the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center. The Blue Jackets would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Stars in any fashion.
Here's a closer look at the action Wednesday:
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 just 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.