- The NY Rangers would capture the Presidents' Trophy if they defeat Washington in any fashion OR if they get one point against Washington AND Vancouver loses to Edmonton in any fashion OR if Vancouver loses to Edmonton in regulation.
- Vancouver would capture the Presidents' Trophy if it defeats Edmonton AND the NY Rangers lose to Washington in any fashion OR if it gets one point against Edmonton AND the NY Rangers lose to Washington in regulation.
The St. Louis Blues ended Smith's scoreless streak at 234 minutes and 25 seconds when Patrik Berglund popped in a second rebound at 14:26 of the first period. But that was the only goal Smith allowed as the Coyotes won 4-1 to move back into first place in the Pacific Division.
Radim Vrbata's 34th goal of the season 5:44 into the second period broke a 1-1 tie, and Shane Doan made it 3-1 when he beat Brian Elliott 2:10 later. Mikkel Boedker's goal midway through the third period ensured that the Coyotes would head to Minnesota for their season finale on top of the division. A win of any kind would give Phoenix the first division title in franchise history.
The San Jose Sharks are used to 100-point seasons and cruising into the Stanley Cup Playoffs as one of the favorites to contend for the Cup.
This season, the Sharks will post their lowest point total since 2002-03 -- the last time they failed to qualify for the postseason. Thanks to a three-game winning streak that continued with Thursday's thrilling 6-5 shootout win in Los Angeles, the Sharks will be in the round of 16 for the eighth straight season, and if they complete the home-and-home sweep against the Kings on Saturday, they can claim a fifth-straight Pacific Division crown and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
Even though these Sharks haven't resembled the powerhouse regular-season squads of years past, they will get the opportunity to accomplish what those teams couldn't: Win three rounds in the playoffs and compete for the franchise's first championship.
While much was decided Thursday -- including the 16 teams that will play for the 2012 Stanley Cup -- as 28 of the League's 30 teams played, much remains to be decided across the season's final 16 games.
With just two days left in the 2011-12 regular season, two division titles, one conference title and the Presidents' Trophy are still to be decided.
The majority of the decisions will come during a wild Saturday that features all 30 teams playing for just the fourth time in League history. There's also a Friday game -- Phoenix at St. Louis (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) -- that has huge playoff implications.
When goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov left the Phoenix Coyotes last summer, most hockey experts thought the team's success left with him. Instead, general manager Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett proved this season that the team's accomplishments were built on solid team play rather than individual achievement.
Thanks to the Dallas' Stars 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday, the Coyotes clinched a playoff spot for the third straight season.
Here are six reasons they got to this point:
When Darryl Sutter took over as coach of the Los Angeles Kings in December, the team many considered a lock to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs was fourth in the Pacific Division and 10th in the Western Conference.
Before Sutter began to turn things around, the Kings were 30th in the League in in goals per game, 30th in 5-on-5 scoring and 23rd on the power play. While All-Star goalie Jonathan Quick is good, he couldn't be relied upon night in and night out. But under Sutter's leadership, the club Kings made gradual offensive improvements, helping them go 25-13-10 under Sutter.
Reaching the playoffs is nothing new to Sutter, who had done it 10 times in 11 previous seasons as a coach in Chicago, San Jose and Calgary. He even helped the Flames to a Stanley Cup Final berth in 2004 and sports a 47-54 record in the postseason.
SOG: 150 | +/-: -15
The Capitals had just finished with the most points in the Eastern Conference in back-to-back seasons, and McPhee upgraded the talent on the roster. Combine the additions with the expected progression of young players like John Carlson, Marcus Johansson and Michal Neuvirth, and there were the makings of an obvious Stanley Cup contender in Washington.
The participants for the Stanley Cup Playoffs are all set. The question of who plays whom in the opening round is still up in the air.
In the East, Florida wrapped up a playoff berth despite a 4-2 loss to Washington at Verizon Center. Both teams were assured of playoff berths when Philadelphia beat Buffalo 2-1. For the Panthers, it's their first trip to the postseason since 2000 and ends the longest playoff drought in NHL history. The win also assured the Caps of a playoff berth.
The field in the West was completed when Dallas lost 2-0 at Nashville and Colorado was beaten 5-3 at home by last-place Columbus. Those outcomes assured Los Angeles, San Jose and Phoenix of the final three openings in the West.
But while the 16 playoff teams are set, the only one of the eight pairings that's certain is in the East, where fourth-place Pittsburgh will play fifth-place Philadelphia in an all-Pennsylvania matchup. The others won't be settled until Saturday, when the Southeast Division winner will also be determined.
WASHINGTON -- Tomas Fleischmann whiffed at his first chance and then was tripped as he deked, but he scored on the second try as he fell to ice in the first period April 5, 2008.
That was the first goal in a 3-1 victory for the Washington Capitals against the Florida Panthers. It was a victory that capped an incredible rally to first place and a playoff berth, and it began a Southeast Division dynasty.
Fleischmann is back in Washington on the fourth anniversary of that night, but he now is a member of the Panthers, and they are here to end that dynasty.
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