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Playoff Platter: Predators have chance to clinch

Nashville needs win vs. Dallas and help from St. Louis to get into postseason

by NHL.com @NHL / NHL.com

The road to the Stanley Cup will go through Washington. The Washington Capitals won the Presidents' Trophy with their 4-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, giving them home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Eight Presidents' Trophy winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup in the same season. The Capitals are the only team from the Eastern Conference to clinch a playoff spot.

The Nashville Predators on Tuesday can become the seventh team from the Western Conference to clinch a playoff spot. The San Jose Sharks on Monday became the sixth team, joining the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks.

With less than two weeks left in the regular season, there are nine playoffs spots available. Each day NHL.com takes a look at the playoff races.

CLINCHING SCENARIOS
* The Predators will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Stars in any fashion AND the Colorado Avalanche lose to the Blues in regulation.

Video: COL@NSH: Sissons and Josi score two quick goals

KEY GAME
Detroit Red Wings at Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-D, RDS, SNE, NHL.TV): The Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers won Monday to remain tied in points (87) for the final wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Flyers are in the lead because they have one game in hand. With Gordie Howe at Joe Louis Arena to celebrate his 88th birthday, the Red Wings beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. The Flyers, who got a goal from Claude Giroux with 13.6 seconds left in overtime to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2, are off Tuesday before hosting the Capitals on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360).  

SPEAKING OF TIED
The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 on Monday to tie in points with the Florida Panthers atop the Atlantic Division. Florida, which hosts Toronto on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, TSN4, NHL.TV), has one game in hand on the Lightning.

STILL IN IT  
The Avalanche, playing without Matt Duchene and Nathan McKinnon, got a 4-3 road win against the Predators on Monday to move to within three points of the Minnesota Wild in the race for final wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. The Avalanche win also prevented the Predators from clinching a playoff spot. The Avalanche play at the Blues on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN); the Wild host the Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, FS-N, NHL.TV).

GETTING TIGHTER
The Flyers and Red Wings kept pace with each other Monday, but also drew closer to the Boston Bruins, who were off. The Bruins, who are 4-5-1 in their past 10 games, are one point ahead of the Flyers and Red Wings. The Flyers have one game in hand on the Bruins. The Bruins don't play the Flyers again this season but host the Red Wings on April 7, a day after the Red Wings play the Flyers at Joe Louis Arena.

Best potential first-round matchup:
Jaromir Jagr against one of his former teams:
Including his current team, Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr has played for six of the eight teams in Eastern Conference playoff positions; only the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning have not had him on their roster. It's highly unlikely the Panthers would play the Lightning in the first round, and if the playoffs began Tuesday, the Panthers would face the Islanders. But if the Panthers finish second in the Atlantic they likely would face the Bruins, who Jagr helped reach the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. If the Panthers win the Atlantic they would face the top wild card in the East which could be one of four former teams: the Flyers, Bruins, New York Rangers or Pittsburgh Penguins. If the Panthers somehow fall to the second wild card, they would play the Capitals, who Jagr played three seasons with (2001-04). Jagr also played in the Western Conference with the Stars, who are the No. 1 seed in West with six games to go.

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