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Playoff picture: Lots at stake on busy Thursday

Battle for postseason berths, Presidents' Trophy highlight 12-game schedule

NHL.com @NHL

The NHL regular season ends Sunday, April 9. Here is a look at the Stanley Cup Playoff picture with 18 days to go.

Three games were played in the NHL on Wednesday and all three saw teams battling for berths in the Stanley Cup Playoffs get important wins.

The Minnesota Wild, who are six points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the Central Division lead, can become the fifth team to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers at Xcel Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, CSN-PH, NHL.TV). The Wild can get in if they defeat the Flyers in any fashion; if they get one point and the Los Angeles Kings lose to the Winnipeg Jets in any fashion (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, TSN3); or if the Kings lose to the Jets in regulation.

The Flyers are eight points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs, who are one point ahead of the Bruins for third in the Atlantic, host the New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m. ET; SNO, MSG+, NHL.TV), while the Bruins are at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, NESN, SUN, NHL.TV). The Bruins have a two-point lead on the Islanders in the race for the second wild card into the playoffs from the East and lead the Lightning by five points, but have played one more game than each of them.

Video: PHI@BOS: Pastrnak buries one-timer to open scoring

The Montreal Canadiens, who lead the Ottawa Senators by three points for first in the Atlantic, host the Carolina Hurricanes (7:30 p.m. ET; SNE, RDS, FS-CR, NHL.TV). The Senators host the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, RDS2, TSN5, ROOT, NHL.TV), who are in a three-team battle for first place in the Metropolitan Division and the No. 1 seed in the East, and a four-team race for the Presidents' Trophy.

The Penguins are in second place in the division with 101 points, one ahead of the Blue Jackets and one behind the Washington Capitals, who play the Blue Jackets at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, FS-O, NHL.TV). The Capitals, Blue Jackets and Penguins have clinched playoff berths along with the Blackhawks, who lead the Western Conference with 100 points. The Blackhawks host the Dallas Stars on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, FS, SW+, NHL.TV).

The St. Louis Blues are tied in points (83) with the Nashville Predators for third in the Central and host the Vancouver Canucks (8 p.m. ET; FS-MN, SNP, NHL.TV). The Predators have an eight-point lead on the Kings for the second wild card from Western Conference and trail the Calgary Flames by three points for the first wild card. The Predators host the Flames (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, SNF, NHL.TV), who trail the Oilers by one point for third in the Pacific Division.

Video: STL@COL: Berglund notches second with empty-netter

The Oilers, who fell two points behind the Ducks for second place in the division Wednesday, play at the Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. ET; ALT, SNW, NHL.TV).

Here is the playoff bracket as of March 23.

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