The Pittsburgh Penguins have already clinched their first postseason berth since 2000-01, when Jaromir Jagr led them in scoring. Now they hope a win over Jagr's current team, the New York Rangers, will help them open the playoffs at home.
The Penguins host a Rangers squad also headed to the postseason on Saturday in the season finale for the Atlantic Division rivals.
Pittsburgh (46-24-11) beat Ottawa 3-2 on Thursday to tie the Senators with 103 points in the Eastern Conference with one game remaining for each club. The two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs, but are still vying for the fourth seed and home-ice advantage in that series.
Although they are tied in points, the Senators hold the tiebreaker with one more win. The Penguins can clinch the fourth spot with a victory on Saturday coupled with a Senators' loss at Boston.
"We've got one more game and we're going to concentrate on finishing our season on a positive note because we want to make sure we've got good momentum on our side," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien, whose team is 25-10-5 at the Mellon Center.
Maxime Talbot scored with 9.8 seconds remaining on Thursday to help Pittsburgh avoid a third straight loss. Michel Ouellet and Gary Roberts each scored power-play goals during a five-minute elbowing major against Ottawa's Jason Spezza in the first period.
"It was a pretty exciting game," Talbot said. "It was a playoff atmosphere and a playoff-type of game. It's going to be an interesting series."
Sidney Crosby had an assist and leads the NHL with 118 points, seven ahead of San Jose's Joe Thornton. He has eight goals and 10 assists in 14 career games against the Rangers (42-29-10).
Pittsburgh is 4-1-2 versus the Rangers this season, but lost 2-1 in the most recent matchup on March 19. New York is 13-2-4 in its last 19 games and clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 win over Montreal on Thursday.
The Rangers are battling with Tampa Bay for the sixth spot in the conference and hope to improve upon last season's first-round sweep by New Jersey.
"Our goal was to make the playoffs, but now our other goal is to just go as far as you can go," said Jagr, who has scored four goals in four games to reach 30 for the 15th straight season. "Last year we lost in the playoffs in four games. Now I think we're good enough to do some damage."
Jagr also added an assist Thursday to boost his team-leading point total to 96. The veteran right wing has 15 goals and 14 assists in 27 career games versus the Penguins, who he spent his first 11 seasons with before being traded to Washington after the 2000-01 season.
Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves Thursday to improve to 8-0-1 with a 1.65 goals-against average in his last 10 starts, but said maintaining that success won't be easy in the postseason.
"It is a different story when you go into the playoffs," said Lundqvist, who is 7-2-3 with a 2.28 GAA in 12 career starts versus the Penguins. "When it starts next week, it takes everyone on the same page to get some results. I feel good. I feel confident with these guys."