Playoff Push: Breakdown of the remaining games for the Habs, 'Canes and Jackets - InfoNews

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Playoff Push: Breakdown of the remaining games for the Habs, 'Canes and Jackets

Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi, second left, celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's fourth goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during third period NHL hockey action Tuesday, April 2, 2019 in Montreal. The Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets are in a three-way race for the two wild-card berths in the Eastern Conference. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
April 03, 2019 - 2:11 PM

The Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets find themselves in a three-way battle for the Eastern Conference's two wild-card berths in the waning days of the regular season. Carolina sits in the driver's seat with 95 points, followed Columbus and Montreal with 94 points each. The Canadian Press takes a look at the final two games for all three teams.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

RECORD: 43-29-8 (94 points)

REMAINING OPPONENTS: Thursday at the Washington Capitals, Saturday at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Canadiens visit Washington knowing they have little room for error. The Capitals hold a three-point lead over the New York Islanders atop the Metropolitan Division, meaning they still have something to play for with two games left. The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, are locked into the Atlantic Division's third seed and will start the playoffs in Boston against the Bruins. But even though Saturday is meaningless in the standings for Toronto, the Leafs are expected to start No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen as he looks to find a rhythm heading into the playoffs. Because the first tiebreaker in the standings is combined regulation and overtime wins — the Canadiens have 41, the Hurricanes have 42 and the Blue Jackets have 44 — Montreal could max out at 98 points and still miss the playoffs, which would be a first. Florida missed out with 96 points last season, while Boston suffered the same fate in 2014-15.

CAROLINA HURRICANES

RECORD: 44-29-7 (95 points)

REMAINING OPPONENTS: Thursday at home against the New Jersey Devils, Saturday at the Philadelphia Flyers

Carolina has the upper hand in the chase, occupying the first wild-card spot in the East with games against a pair of Metropolitan Division rivals playing out the string. The Hurricanes are 1-2-0 against New Jersey this season, but did pick up their only victory over the Devils at home back in November. Carolina has had a lot more success against Philadelphia with a perfect 3-0-0 record, including a 5-3 road decision over the Flyers in January and last Saturday's 5-2 home win. The Hurricanes last made the playoffs in 2008-09, making their nine-year drought the NHL's longest current stretch of post-season futility.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

RECORD: 45-31-4 (94 points)

REMAINING OPPONENTS: Friday at the New York Rangers, Saturday at the Ottawa Senators

Like the Hurricanes, the Blue Jackets control their own destiny against opponents with little to play for. Columbus is 2-0-1 against the Rangers in 2018-19, but two of the teams' three games went beyond 60 minutes. The Blue Jackets are 2-0-0 versus Ottawa — the team they acquired forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from ahead of February's trade deadline. While missing the playoffs would represent a blow for both Montreal and Carolina, Columbus failing to reach the post-season would be a disaster. Apart from the acquisitions of Duchene and Dzingel, who can both become unrestricted free agents this summer, the Blue Jackets went all-in this season by keeping their own pending UFAs in star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and sniper Artemi Panarin rather than trying to deal the pair at the deadline.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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