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NHL Network to air Panthers-Caps on Thursday @NHL

The Florida Panthers haven't made the playoffs since 2000, and they've never won a division title since entering the NHL in 1993. The NHL Network will be on hand Thursday to see if the Panthers can end both of those droughts.

Florida visits Washington in one of 14 games on the schedule. The Panthers can lock up their first division title with a point against the Caps, who could have put more heat on Florida but lost 4-2 at Tampa Bay on Monday. The Panthers missed a chance to lock up the crown but couldn't hold a 3-0 lead against Winnipeg on Tuesday; they settled for one point in a 5-4 overtime loss.

The NHL Network will air the game in the United States, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Five other games also start at 7, including a couple with major playoff significance.

Buffalo, which enters the night even with Washington in the battle for the final playoff berth in the East, visits Philadelphia. The Sabres saved their season on Tuesday by overcoming a three-goal deficit to beat Toronto 6-5 in overtime. The Flyers, a 5-3 loser to the Rangers on Tuesday, need a win to have any hopes of catching the Penguins for fourth place. They could get some help if the Rangers beat Pittsburgh, a game that can be seen in the U.S. on the NBC Sports Network. Tuesday's win assured the Rangers of first place in the East.

Also at 7, Winnipeg visits the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay is at Toronto and Montreal travels to Carolina in a game that can be seen in Canada on RDS.

Two teams likely to meet in the first round face off at 7:30 p.m. ET when Boston visits Ottawa. Also at 7:30, New Jersey visits Detroit.

Two games that get under way at 8 could have a major effect on the playoff race in the Western Conference. Dallas, a 5-2 loser to San Jose at home on Tuesday, has to win at Nashville to have any hope of ending a three-year playoff drought. Chicago, one of three teams scrambling for fourth in the West, visits Minnesota.

At 9 p.m. ET, Columbus visits Colorado, another team that must win to have any hopes of staying alive in the Western race. Also at 9, Vancouver goes for its eighth win in a row when it visits Calgary. A half-hour later, Anaheim is at Edmonton.

In the final game of the night, the Kings and Sharks open a home-and-home series in San Jose. Los Angeles begins the night in first place in the Pacific Division thanks to Monday's 2-0 win against Edmonton, but the Sharks can pass them by winning in regulation.

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