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Playoff picture: Senators back in Atlantic title hunt

Races tighten for division leads, second wild card from Eastern Conference

NHL.com @NHL

The NHL regular season ends Sunday, April 9. Here is a look at the Stanley Cup Playoff picture with 17 days to go.

Less than a week after the Ottawa Senators were written off by some as a contender for the Atlantic Division title after losing weekend back-to-back games against the division-leading Montreal Canadiens, the chase is back on.

The Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in a shootout at Canadian Tire Center on Thursday and are one point behind the Montreal Canadiens, who lost 4-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Ottawa has a game in hand on Montreal, but Montreal leads in the first tie-breaking criteria, regulation/overtime wins (ROW) 38-36.

The Atlantic Division champion likely will occupy the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference during the Stanley Cup Playoffs and play the first wild card, which looks like it will be the New York Rangers.

The race for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference, however, is wide open.

Video: Turris, Ryan help Senators top Penguins in SO

The New York Islanders can pass the Boston Bruins if they defeat the Penguins on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG+, NHL.TV). The Islanders are two points behind the Bruins but have played two fewer games.

The Lightning also are in the chase for the spot. They defeated the Bruins 6-3 at TD Garden on Thursday to pull within three points. The Bruins have lost four in a row (0-4-0). The Lightning play the Detroit Red Wings on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-D, SUN, NHL.TV).

Things also are tight at the top of the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference standings. The Washington Capitals lead the Penguins by two points after their 2-1 shootout victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

The Capitals have 104 points, the Penguins have 102 and the Blue Jackets have 101. Each team has nine regular-season games remaining.

Even with a victory against the Islanders on Friday, the Penguins would remain second based on having played one more game than the Capitals. The Capitals next play against the Arizona Coyotes at home on Saturday.

In the Pacific Division things have gotten much tighter as the San Jose Sharks have lost four straight games (0-4-0) and hold a two-point lead on the Anaheim Ducks and the Edmonton Oilers, who beat the Colorado Avalanche 7-4 on Thursday.

Video: BUF@SJS: Couture beats Lehner with poke to pad lead

The Sharks, who have 91 points, play at the Dallas Stars on Friday (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, CSN-CA, NHL.TV). The Ducks host the Winnipeg Jets (10 p.m. ET; PRIME, TSN3, NHL.TV) and the Oilers, who have played one more game, are idle. They next play against the Avalanche at home on Saturday.

Even with a Ducks win and a regulation loss by the Sharks on Friday, the Sharks would remain first in the division because of the ROW tiebreaker (40-37).

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