The end of the NHL regular season is 20 days away and only two teams have clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, setting up what should be a wild finish.
Each day, NHL.com will take a closer look at the playoff races.
Philadelphia at New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-PH, TVA Sports): Each team is coming off a loss that hindered its chase for positioning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Islanders, in fact, have lost three straight games, one in the shootout, to fall out of a top-three position in the Metropolitan Division. Now occupying the first wild card in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders have a two-point lead on the Detroit Red Wings and a five-point lead on the Flyers. The Islanders are three points behind the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division race, but hold two games on hand on each team. The Flyers had a six-game point streak (5-0-1) end with a 4-1 loss to the Penguins on Saturday, which blunted the momentum they had built.
IN GOOD SHAPE
The Washington Capitals missed out on a chance to clinch the Metropolitan Division on Sunday with a 6-2 loss to the Penguins, but the division title will come soon enough. The Capitals hold a 19-point edge on the Penguins and Rangers and each of those teams has 10 games remaining. Washington holds an 18-point cushion on the Florida Panthers for first place in the Eastern Conference and a 12-point lead on the Dallas Stars in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.
LOOK OUT FOR
The Penguins have won six games in a row and eight of their past 10 to rocket up the Metropolitan Division standings. During the run, the Penguins have outscored their opponents 23-11. Pittsburgh sits in second place in the Metropolitan and has a three-point lead on the Islanders, who occupy the first wild card. The Islanders, however, have two games in hand on the Penguins.
New Jersey Devils. A victory at home Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets kept the Devils' flickering playoff hopes alive, but New Jersey is entering a state where another loss may be costly. The Devils have nine games remaining, starting with a game against the Penguins on Thursday, and sit six points out of the second wild card in the East. However, each team ahead of them has games in hand. The Red Wings, the current holder of the second wild card, have one game in hand and the Flyers, who are three points behind the Red Wings, have three games in hand on the Devils. New Jersey has finished its season series against each of the teams it is chasing. Six of its final nine games are against teams currently holding a playoff position.
Best first-round matchup if playoffs started today:
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins are about as equally matched as two teams can be. They are separated by one point in the Atlantic Division standings and have split the four games they have played against each other. The Lightning have scored 25 more goals than their opposition this season and the Bruins have 19 more goals than their foes. Plus, a matchup between the Bruins and Lightning would rekindle memories of an unforgettable 2011 Eastern Conference Final, where the Bruins prevailed in seven games.