After beating the Florida Panthers 5-2 on Wednesday, the Washington Capitals are very close to clinching the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.â†µ
The Capitals play the Panthers again on Saturday and will be the No. 1 seed unless they lose to the Panthers in regulation and the Philadelphia Flyers win both of their last two games.â†µ
The other Wednesday game featuring an Eastern Conference playoff team was the matchup between the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders, which the Bruins won 3-2. The Carolina Hurricanes, meanwhile, stayed alive in the playoff race by beating the Detroit Red Wings 3-0, but they're still on the outside looking in. The Hurricanes have 89 points, two behind the Eastern Conference's current No. 8 seed the New York Rangers, and they can make the playoffs if they win both their remaining games while the Rangers lose one of two.â†µ
If the season ended today, the Capitals and Rangers would face off in the first round of the playoffs, while the Flyers would play the Sabres, the Bruins would play the Canadiens, and the Penguins would play the Lightning. The Penguins' next game is against the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday.