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Playoff countdown: Senators can cap amazing run

NHL.com @NHL

The 2014-15 NHL regular season concludes Saturday with a 15-game schedule with game play stretched across approximately 12 hours. Final positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones are left to be determined before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15.

Saturday is the final day of the NHL regular season, and all 30 teams will play game No. 82. There's still much to be determined with the season coming to a close, including two playoff berths in the Eastern Conference, and seeding in both conferences.

The Ottawa Senators play in one of the first games of the day against the Philadelphia Flyers. Earning at least a point will clinch the Senators a playoff berth. A win would secure at least the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. If Ottawa loses in regulation, it can still get into the playoffs. The Boston Bruins would either need to lose in any fashion, or, the Pittsburgh Penguins would need to lose in regulation.

Pittsburgh plays the Buffalo Sabres, and, like Ottawa, has multiple ways it can clinch a berth. A win in any fashion will secure the Penguins a spot in the postseason. An overtime loss paired with an Ottawa regulation loss or a Bruins regulation loss would also earn Pittsburgh a spot. If the Penguins and Bruins level on points for the final spot, Boston owns the tiebreaker and would qualify.

The Bruins play the Tampa Bay Lightning, and need to gain at least a point and get help from the Penguins or Senators for a chance at making the postseason. A Boston win in any fashion paired with a Pittsburgh loss in any fashion or an Ottawa regulation loss would clinch a berth for the Bruins. If the Bruins lose in overtime, Pittsburgh would need to lose in regulation for Boston to secure a spot. If the Bruins lose in regulation, they are eliminated.

The Detrot Red Wings are hoping to finish third in the Atlantic Division, which they can do by earning one point against the Carolina Hurricanes. If the Red Wings lose in regulation against Carolina, they could be passed by both Ottawa and Pittsburgh, and fall as far as the second wild card, which would mean an Eastern Conference First Round matchup with the New York Rangers.

Seeding in the Atlantic Division and Metropolitan Division is also still to be decided. Earning a point would clinch first place in the Atlantic for the Montreal Canadiens, who play the Toronto Maple Leafs. A regulation loss for Montreal paired with a win in any fashion for the Lightning and Tampa Bay would pass the Canadiens and finish first in the Atlantic.

In the Metropolitan Division, the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders will play in the Eastern Conference First Round series, but home-ice has yet to be decided. A Washington win against the New York Rangers in any fashion would mean it finishes second in the Metropolitan and Game 1 is at Verizon Center. If Washington loses in overtime, an Islanders loss in any fashion would also clinch second place for the Capitals. An Islanders win in any fashion paired with a Washington regulation loss would put New York in second place and Game 1 at Nassau Coliseum. The Capitals hold the second tie-breaker against the Islanders by virtue of their head-to-head regular season record.

In the Western Conference, all eight playoff spots have been clinched. The Winnipeg Jets will be the second wild card, and the Nashville Predators are the second-place team in the Central Division. Everything else is to be determined.

In the Pacific Division, the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames will play in a Western Conference First Round series, with home ice yet to be decided. If Vancouver earns at least a point on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers, it will clinch second place in the Pacific, and host the series. For Calgary to finish second, the Flames need to beat the Jets in any fashion and then hope Vancouver loses in regulation. 

The top seed in the West is still up for grabs. The Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues are tied with 107 points. The Ducks would clinch the top seed if they defeat the Coyotes in regulation or overtime. If they defeat the Coyotes in a shootout, the Blues would earn the tiebreaker with a non-shootout win. If the Ducks earn one point, they get the top seed if the Blues lose in any fashion.
The Chicago Blackhawks would clinch third place in the Central and a matchup with the Predators by earning at least a point against the Colorado Avalanche, or if the Wild lose in any fashion to the Blues. The Wild will be the first wild card unless they beat the Blues and the Blackhawks lose to the Avalanche in regulation. 

Here's a closer look at the action Saturday:

Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers (12:30 p.m.; SN, RDS2, TSN5, CSN-PH)

New York Rangers at Washington Capitals (12:30 p.m.; TVA Sports, MSG, CSN-DC)

Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets (3 p.m.; SN, SNW, TSN3)

San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings (3 p.m.; NBC)

Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues (3 p.m.; NBC)

Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m.; CITY, ROOT, MSG-B)

Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs, (7 p.m.; CBC, TVA Sports)

New Jersey Devils at Florida Panthers (7 p.m.; MSG+2, FS-F)

Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Islanders (7 p.m.; NHLN-US, FS-O, MSG+)

Detroit Red Wings at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m.; FX-CA, FS-D, FS-CR)

Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m.; NBCSN, SN1, NESN)

Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars (8 p.m.; FS-TN, TXA 21)

Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m., TVA Sports 2, WGN, ALT)

Anaheim Ducks at Arizona Coyotes (9 p.m.; FS-W, FS-A PLUS)

Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m.; CBC)

The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots are filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It is possible for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends just three.

Seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second-fewest points.

The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. There is no reseeding as the tournament moves to the second round and winners of that series advance to the conference championship series and the right to play in the Stanley Cup Final.

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