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Playoff Platter: Ducks, Sharks can clinch

Anaheim needs one point vs. Toronto; San Jose can get in with defeat of Edmonton

NHL.com @NHL

The end of the NHL regular season is less than three weeks away, and the Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars are the only teams to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Ducks and Sharks can join the playoff party Thursday.

Each day, NHL.com will take a closer look at the playoff races.

CLINCHING SCENARIOS

* The Anaheim Ducks will clinch a playoff berth if they get at least one point Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs OR if the Arizona Coyotes lose to the Dallas Stars in any fashion.

* The San Jose Sharks will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Edmonton Oilers in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Oilers AND the Coyotes lose to the Stars in any fashion OR if the Coyotes lose to the Stars in regulation.

KEY GAME

Philadelphia Flyers at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, ALT, NHL.TV): The Flyers are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, a game in which they led 2-0 with a 1:04 left in the third period. They have 83 points, the same as the Detroit Red Wings, but are in the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference because they have played one fewer game than the Red Wings. The Avalanche, who have won three straight, trail the Minnesota Wild by one point for the final wild card in the Western Conference but have one game on hand on the Wild. The Red Wings and Wild also play Thursday. The Red Wings host the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, RDS, SNE, FS-D) and the Wild host the Calgary Flames (8 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-N, NHL.TV).

IN GOOD SHAPE

The New York Rangers improved to 25-8-3 this season at Madison Square Garden with a 5-2 win against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. Their second straight victory moved them four points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division, though the Penguins have two games in hand. The Rangers play five of their remaining eight games at home, including one against the Penguins on Sunday.

Video: BOS@NYR: Brassard snipes top-shelf goal, extends lead

NEED HELP

The Boston Bruins take a four-game losing streak (0-4-0) into their game Thursday at home against the Florida Panthers (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, NESN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV) after a 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday. The Bruins are three points behind Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who lead the Atlantic Division, but just three points ahead of the fourth-place Red Wings. Five of the Bruins' final eight games are against teams not in playoff position, but they also have to play the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues on the road to start April.

FLORIDA KEY

The Panthers can move into first place in the Atlantic Division with one point Thursday against the Bruins. The Panthers have lost two straight in regulation and are 4-5-1 in their past 10 games. Following their game against the Bruins, the Panthers play at the Lightning on Saturday. Tampa Bay, which has won two straight, next play Friday at home against the New York Islanders.

Best potential first-round matchup:

Nashville Predators vs. Los Angeles Kings: Get ready for Jonathan Quick vs. Pekka Rinne and Carrie Underwood vs. Will Ferrell. Two of the hottest teams in the Western Conference playing in two of the biggest entertainment centers in the world make this an intriguing first-round matchup. The Kings are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games and the Predators are 6-2-2. When they played Monday at Bridgestone Arena, the Predators won 5-2. In their other two games this season, the Kings won both in overtime.

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