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Plenty on the line for Flyers, Red Wings

Teams in three-way battle with Bruins for final two playoff spots in Eastern Conference

by Bill Price @BillPriceNHL / Editor in Chief

And then there were two.

With five days left in the regular season, 14 of the 16 berths in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been clinched. The New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild clinched Tuesday, but the Islanders were the only ones to do so with a victory.

The Islanders locked up their second straight playoff berth and third in four seasons Tuesday with a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime victory against the Washington Capitals. The Lightning lost 3-2 to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden but clinched their third straight playoff berth when the Boston Bruins lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in a shootout. The Wild lost 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks, their fourth straight (0-4-0) but made the playoffs for the fourth straight season when the Colorado Avalanche lost 4-3 to the Nashville Predators.

The two remaining berths are in the Eastern Conference, where the Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins each have 91 points.

Video: NYI@WSH: Hickey hits winner to clinch playoff berth

No team can clinch Wednesday.


Philadelphia Flyers at Detroit Red Wings (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA Sports): A few weeks ago the race for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference appeared to be down to the Red Wings and Flyers. But the Bruins, 2-7-1 in their past 10 games, have made it a three-team race for two spots. The Bruins had an opportunity to pass the Flyers and Red Wings with a win Tuesday but got one point for their shootout loss. The Bruins and Red Wings are tied for third place in the Atlantic Division but the Red Wings hold the regulation/overtime win (ROW) tiebreaker and have a game in hand. The Bruins and Flyers are tied in points for the final wild card, but the Flyers have two games in hand. The Red Wings play at the Bruins on Thursday.


The Florida Panthers won their second division title Tuesday with a 4-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens. The win, combined with the Lightning's loss to the Rangers, gave the Panthers (46-25-9, 101 points) home-ice advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Panthers, who won the Southeast Division in 2011-12, reached 100 points for the first time. The Lightning, who couldn't hold an early two-goal lead against the Rangers, have a four-point lead on the Red Wings and Bruins for second place in the division.

Video: FLA@MTL: Hudler seals win for Panthers with PPG


The Pittsburgh Penguins remained three points ahead of the Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 5-3 win against the Ottawa Senators. The Penguins have won seven in a row and 13 of 14 (13-1-0). They scored five goals Tuesday after falling behind 3-0 against the Senators. It's the first time the Penguins overcame a three-goal deficit to win in regulation since a 5-4 victory against the Flyers on March 7, 2013, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Penguins and Rangers each have two games remaining.


The Minnesota Wild aren't exactly rolling into the playoffs. They're 0-4-0 in their past four after their loss to the Sharks on Tuesday. The Wild are locked into the second wild card from the Western Conference.


The Los Angeles Kings drew even in points (99) with the Anaheim Ducks for first place the Pacific Division with a 5-4 overtime victory against the Calgary Flames. The Kings own the ROW tiebreaker but the Ducks have one game in hand. The Ducks play at the Kings on Thursday.


Two California teams will play each other in the first round of the playoffs, the Sharks against either the Ducks or Kings. With five days remaining in the regular season, not one first-round series is set and it's possible nothing will be decided until Sunday, when the Islanders host the Flyers and the Ducks play at the Capitals in the final two games of the regular season. The Capitals are the No. 1 seed in the East and will have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, and the Panthers are guaranteed home-ice advantage for the first two rounds, but nothing has been determined in the West despite all eight berths being clinched.

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