The 16 teams that will take part in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs had been settled, but it took until late in the third period of the regular-season finale to determine all of the first-round pairings.
The Ottawa Senators defeated the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Sunday night to settle the Eastern Conference. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored with 3:34 to go to give the Senators a 3-2 lead, and an empty-net goal assured Ottawa of the No. 7 seed, gave the Montreal Canadiens the Northeast Division title and the No. 2 seed, and pushed the Bruins to No. 4.
With one game remaining (Ottawa at Boston on Sunday night), only one of the four Eastern Conference matchups is finalized (#3 Washington vs. #6 NY Rangers). The other three Eastern Conference matchups hinge on the outcome of the Boston-Ottawa game.
While the final regular-season game Sunday night between the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators could be what determines the Northeast Division winner as well as some Eastern Conference first-round matchups, much of what fans want to know about the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs will become clear by the end of a 13-game Saturday marathon.
Let's start in the Western Conference, where the final two playoff berths will be locked up by night's end.
The Islanders and Wild were the two teams that had a Stanley Cup Playoffs stake during the four-game slate of games Friday night. Neither got the result it wanted.
The Islanders had to settle for one point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres in their season finale -- but that was still better than the fate that befell the Wild, who saw their chance to clinch a playoff berth in front of their own fans disappear in a blizzard of goals by the Edmonton Oilers, who left Xcel Energy Center with a 6-1 victory.
There are 13 games on Saturday's schedule, several of which have a bearing on the last two available playoff berths in the Western Conference or the seedings for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in both conferences. Here's a look at the playoff picture after Friday's games.
The St. Louis Blues came into the shortened 2012-13 season with lofty expectations after flirting with winning the Presidents' Trophy in 2011-12. The ended up two points short with 109 and two wins shy of matching the franchise record of 51 wins.
But after a strong start, there was a rocky middle that left the Blues on the cusp of falling off their playoff perch. They have righted the ship in April and are firmly entrenched among the Western Conference's top eight after clinching a postseason berth Tuesday night.
[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.
— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin on linemate Steven Samkos
TONIGHT ON NHL NETWORK
5:00 ET: NHL Live Powered by Constellation 7:00 ET: NHL Tonight Eastern Conf. Preview 8:00 ET: NHL Hockey Central Season Preview