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Eastern Conference results and the playoff picture

Six Eastern Conference teams faced off last night with hopes of either improving playoff chances or spoiling the hopes of another.  Here's a quick look at the results and how they impact the playoff picture.

The Florida Panthers [Litter Box Cats] picked up a big two points last night in a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers [Broad Street Hockey].  A Philly win would have more or lessed clinched a playoff guarantee, but it looks like it'll have to wait one more night.  The Panthers, on the other hand, are edging closer to that eighth seed in the East.  Of course Montreal isn't going to make it easy for them...

The Tampa Bay Lightning [Raw Charge] were one of those teams looking to spoil some playoff dreams.  Their victim of choice: Montreal Canadiens [Habs Eyes on the Prize].  The Lightning played a close game with the Habs, sending it to overtime and a potential shootout.  Saku Koivu would have none of that, as he notched the game winner less than two minutes into extra time to seal a 3-2 win.  The pity point doesn't improve Tampa's playoff chances at all, but the two points for Montreal are huge.  On a night where a Florida win and Montreal loss would've brought an eighth place tie, Montreal lives to play another day and hopes to maintain in the playoff picture.

The last upset to report from last night's action is the one game that ultimately keeps Pitt in sole posession of sixth place.  The New York Rangers [Blueshirt Banter] and Atlanta Thrashers [Bird Watchers Anonymous] played a back and forth game that ultimately swung in favor of Atlanta in shootout fashion.  The Rangers gave Henrik Lundqvist the night off, opting to start Stephen Valiquette instead.  Atlanta had some goaltending issues of their own.  Despite being entirely out of the playoff picture, things didn't look good for the Thrashers as their oft-injured netminder Kari Lehtonen went down after stopping nine of ten shots.  The Rangers looked as if they'd capitalize on this opportunity, jumping out to a quick 4-2 lead.  But the Thrashers rallied back to send it to overtime, followed by a six round shootout that fell in favor of Atlanta by the score of 5-4.

So, to update the standings as of this morning:

Seed Team Pts Games remaining
1 Boston Bruins 102
2 New Jersey Devils 97 9
3 Washington Capitals 97 7

Philadelphia Flyers

5 Carolina Hurricanes
89 6
6 Pittsburgh Penguins
88 7
7 New York Rangers
87 7
8 Montreal Canadiens
9 Florida Panthers 83
10 Buffalo Sabres 78 9
11 Toronto Maple Leafs
75 8
12 Ottawa Senators
13 Atlanta Thrashers 68 7
14 Tampa Bay Lightning 65 8
15 New York Islanders 56 9