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Playoff Platter: Three more teams look to clinch

Stars, Ducks, Sharks can set postseason plans; Capitals go for top seed in East

by @nhl /

Kesler's one-timer

ANA@WPG: Kesler goes top-shelf with a one-timer

3/20/16: Andrew Cogliano slides a pass over to Ryan Kesler, who blasts a one-timer past Michael Hutchinson into the top corner of the net

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The end of the NHL regular season is less than three weeks away, and the Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings are the only teams to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Three teams can clinch a spot Tuesday and the Capitals can lock up the No. 1 seed in the East.  

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


* The Washington Capitals will clinch the Metropolitan Division title and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference if they defeat the Ottawa Senators in any fashion.

* The Dallas Stars will clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth if they defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Blackhawks AND the Minnesota Wild lose to the Los Angeles Kings in any fashion OR if the Wild lose to the Kings in regulation.

* The Anaheim Ducks will clinch a playoff berth if they get at least one point against the Montreal Canadiens OR if the Arizona Coyotes lose to the Edmonton Oilers in any fashion.

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

Video: ARI@SJS: Pavelski scores PPG on an empty net


Dallas at Chicago (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, CSN-CH, NHL.TV): The Stars are trying to fend off three opponents at the same time. They lead the Kings by two points in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference (the Kings have one game in hand), and lead the Blues by two points and the Blackhawks by four in the battle for first in the Central Division. The Stars have won two in a row but will be missing forward Tyler Seguin possibly for the rest of the regular season. The Blackhawks are 4-4-2 in their past 10 games.  


The New York Rangers have four wins in their past 10 games (4-4-2) and just came home from a 1-1-1 California trip, but their 4-2 victory against the Florida Panthers on Monday at Madison Square Garden moved them back into second place in the Metropolitan Division and upped their point total to 90, the second highest in the Eastern Conference. They are 24-8-3 at home, where they play six of their final nine regular-season games.


After hitting a speed bump at home Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers got a 4-1 win against the New York Islanders on Monday. The Flyers, 7-2-1 in their past 10 games, moved to within one point of the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The win Monday was the start of a four-game trip that continues Tuesday at the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, FS-O, NHL.TV). They then play the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday and the Coyotes on Saturday.


The Avalanche enter Tuesday one point ahead of the Wild for the final wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference with nine games remaining, but seven of those games are against teams currently in playoff position. The other two are against the Flyers and Wild. The Avalanche have to play the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues twice each as well as the Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks.  

Best potential first-round matchup:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers: The Rangers have eliminated the Penguins in the past two seasons. In 2014 the Rangers rallied from down 3-1 in the series to win in seven games. Last season the Rangers won their first-round series in five games when current Penguins forward Carl Hagelin scored in overtime of Game 5. The Penguins have won two of three games this season, with one more game to play, on March 27.

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