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Playoff picture: Maple Leafs move into wild card

Pass Islanders, Lightning in tight Eastern Conference

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The NHL regular season ends Sunday, April 9. Here is a look at the Stanley Cup Playoff picture with less than a month to go.

Another day, another lead change.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, on the strength of their 5-0 win at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, moved ahead of the New York Islanders in the race for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

The Islanders, who jumped ahead of the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, lost to the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 on Thursday.

The Maple Leafs, with 78 points, are one point ahead of the Islanders and Lightning and have a game in hand on each.

Video: TOR@TBL: Rielly, Martin score 15 seconds apart in 2nd

If the season ended today, the Maple Leafs would face the Washingon Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round. The Capitals, who lost 2-1 in overtime against the Nashville Predators on Thursday, have a two-point lead on the Columbus Blue Jackets for first place in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference.

In the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues retained their four-point lead on the Los Angeles for the second wild card. The Blues won 4-1 at the San Jose Sharks on Thursday; the Kings defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-0. Each team has 12 games left in the regular season.

Here is what the playoff bracket looks like as of March 17.

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