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Playoff Platter: Panthers, Wild can qualify

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Nine of the 10 teams playing Sunday will be looking to better their position in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs; two have an opportunity to clinch berths. 

The action begins with a nationally televised game between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN). Boston fell out playoff position Saturday when the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Blackhawks are trying to hold onto third place in the Central Division. The schedule Sunday concludes with a high-profile matchup of Western Conference powerhouses when the Anaheim Ducks host the Dallas Stars (9 p.m. ET; FS-SW, PRIME, FS-SD, NHL.TV).

Also Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who clinched a playoff berth Saturday by defeating the New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues look to add points to solidify their playoff positions. The Colorado Avalanche look to draw closer to the second wild card in the Western Conference. The Minnesota Wild are five points ahead of the Avalanche for the final playoff spot in the West and can clinch if they defeat the Winnipeg Jets and Colorado loses to the Blues in regulation. 

With eight days remaining in the regular season, seven playoff berths remain available. Each day, takes a look at the playoff picture. 


* The Florida Panthers (idle) will clinch a playoff berth if the Bruins lose to the Blackhawks in any fashion.

* The Stars will clinch the Central Division title and the No. 1 playoff seed in the Western Conference if they defeat the Ducks in any fashion AND the Blues lose to the Avalanche in regulation.

* The Wild will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Jets in any fashion AND the Avalanche lose to the Blues in regulation.

Video: MIN@DET: Granlund cuts the Wild's deficit to one


Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins (5 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, ROOT, NHL.TV): Two of the hottest teams in the League go at it a day after getting statement wins Saturday. The Penguins clinched a playoff berth with a 5-0 victory against the Islanders; their 11th win in the past 12 games. Pittsburgh holds a three-point lead on the New York Rangers in the race for second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers, 13-3-2 in their past 18 games, held onto the second wild card spot with a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators. Philadelphia is two points behind the Islanders for the first wild card, but hold a one-point lead on Boston. The Penguins, who will be without center Evgeni Malkin (upper body) and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion), have won the first two games against the Flyers this season.


The Stars made a statement with a gritty, come-from-behind 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday in a battle of the two first-place teams in the West. On Sunday, Dallas faces the Ducks, who are second in the Pacific Division, one point behind Los Angeles. A win by the Stars coupled with a Blues loss in regulation would give Dallas the Central Division and the Western Conference championship. The Blues play Colorado earlier Sunday and sit four points behind Dallas. The Ducks would pass Los Angeles for first place in the Pacific with a victory. An overtime or shootout loss would put the teams even on points and games played (Los Angeles holds the tiebreaker). 


The Avalanche have four games remaining, starting Sunday against the Blues (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN), and need to make up five points on the Wild, who play the Jets Sunday and have one less game remaining. St. Louis has already clinched a berth in the postseason, but is chasing Dallas for top spot in the Central and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Blues have played one fewer game than the Stars. The Avalanche have defeated the Blues in three of four games this season, but if Minnesota wins and the Avalanche lose in regulation Sunday, their postseason aspirations will be over. 


Two days after almost derailing the Blackhawks' quest to try to climb out of the No. 3 position in the Central Division, the already-eliminated Jets set their sights on upsetting the Wild (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, SN, NHL.TV). The Wild have a five-point lead on Colorado, which has a game in hand. Minnesota, which has lost three of four games to the Jets, can grab the final Western Conference playoff spot with a win Sunday and a regulation loss by the Avalanche against the Blues. 

Best potential first-round matchup: 

Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning. The Red Wings will need to hold on through the final week of the regular season to qualify for the NHL postseason for the 25th consecutive year, but if they do -- and if they remain in third place in the Atlantic Division -- they could face the second-place Lightning in the first round. These two teams have split their four-game season series this season. They met in the Eastern Conference First Round of the playoffs last season and entertained with an epic seven-game series. Detroit had two opportunities to eliminate the Tampa Bay after taking a 3-2 lead, but the Lightning won 5-2 and 2-0 to win the series, and parlayed that success into a run that did not end until Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago.

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