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Playoff picture: Penguins can clinch Tuesday

Blackhawks have chance to take lead in race for Presidents' Trophy

NHL.com @NHL

The NHL regular season ends April 9. Here is a look at the Stanley Cup Playoff picture with 20 days remaining.  

The defending Stanley Cup champions can book passage into the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday.

If the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, ROOT, NHL.TV) in any fashion, they will become the third team from the Metropolitan Division to clinch a postseason berth.

Pittsburgh also would get in if it earns one point against the Sabres and the Boston Bruins lose at home to the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET; NESN, RD2S, TSN5, NHL.TV) in regulation.
 
Pittsburgh also can take over first place in the division and the Eastern Conference with a win and a loss at home in any fashion by the Washington Capitals against the Calgary Flames (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, SNW, NHL.TV).

Video: FLA@PIT: Crosby rips home a quick wrister short-side
  
The Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks already have clinched playoff berths. 

On Monday, the Toronto Maple Leafs solidified their hold on a playoff spot with a 4-2 win against the Bruins.

The Maple Leafs, who swept the four-game season series against the Bruins, are three points ahead of the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Each team has played 71 games.

Toronto also moved one point behind Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division. Boston has 82 points but has played one more game. The Senators, who have a game in hand, have a four-point lead on the Bruins for second place in the division.

If the season ended today, Boston would face Ottawa in the playoffs, while the Maple Leafs would play the Capitals.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who host the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SUN, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV), can leapfrog the Islanders in the wild-card chase with a win.

There was some movement in the Western Conference on Monday.

With a 3-1 victory against the Coyotes, the Nashville Predators moved into third place in the Central Division, knocking the idle St. Louis Blues into the second wild card spot.

The Blues, two points behind the Predators, visit the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-W, NHL.TV) and can reclaim third place with a victory. If the Blues win, each team would have 83 points, but the Blues would hold the regulation-plus-overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker (38-34).

Video: STL@ARI: Pietrangelo rips long-range slapper for PPG

The Edmonton Oilers moved into second place in the Pacific Division with a 2-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. The Oilers are tied in points (87) with the third-place Anaheim Ducks but own the goal-differential tiebreaker. The Oilers and Ducks, who have split their first two games this season, play in Anaheim on Wednesday and in Edmonton on April 1. 

Each team is one point ahead of the Flames and four points behind the first-place San Jose Sharks, who lost 1-0 to the Dallas Stars on Monday. The Sharks play at the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).

The Wild have lost five straight games (0-5-0) and are seven points behind the Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference.

The Blackhawks, who host the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday (8:30 p.m.; CSN-CH, SNP, NHL.TV) could move into first place in the race for the Presidents' Trophy with a victory, which would give them 101 points, and a loss of any kind by the Capitals. Chicago holds the ROW tiebreaker (44-42) on the Penguins, who also would reach 101 points with a victory Tuesday.

Here is the playoff bracket as of March 21.

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