Race for the Cup, March 26

The Stanley Cup won't be handed out until June, but this is the time when we see teams making runs at the playoffs. And you can't win the Cup if you don't make the playoffs. Race for the Cup is your daily check of where your favorite team stands as the season dwindles.

Wednesday night saw plenty of drama, including a huge comeback in Buffalo, another superb defensive performance by Pittsburgh, and a rare 60-minute road performance from the Minnesota Wild. How did all of this impact the playoff races? Hit the jump to find out.

In the East
Eastern Conference, 3/25
1. y-Boston Bruins
102 pts
2. New Jersey Devils
97
3. Washington Capitals
97
4. Philadelphia Flyers 90
5. Carolina Hurricanes
87
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
86
7. New York Rangers
86
8. Montreal Canadiens
83
9. Florida Panthers
81
10. Buffalo Sabres
76
Eastern Conference, 3/25 1.y-Boston Bruins
102 pts2.New Jersey Devils
973.Washington Capitals
974.Philadelphia Flyers905.Carolina Hurricanes
876.Pittsburgh Penguins
867.New York Rangers
868.Montreal Canadiens
839.Florida Panthers
8110.Buffalo Sabres
76
Eastern Conference, 3/26
1. y-Boston Bruins
102 pts
2. x-New Jersey Devils
97
3. x-Washington Capitals
97
4. Philadelphia Flyers 90
5. Carolina Hurricanes
89
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
88
7. New York Rangers
86
8. Montreal Canadiens
83
9. Florida Panthers
81
10. Buffalo Sabres
78
Eastern Conference, 3/26 1.y-Boston Bruins
102 pts2.x-New Jersey Devils
973.x-Washington Capitals
974.Philadelphia Flyers905.Carolina Hurricanes
896.Pittsburgh Penguins
887.New York Rangers
868.Montreal Canadiens
839.Florida Panthers
8110.Buffalo Sabres
78
Eastern Conference, 3/25
1.y-Boston Bruins
102 pts
2.New Jersey Devils
97
3.Washington Capitals
97
4.Philadelphia Flyers90
5.Carolina Hurricanes
87
6.Pittsburgh Penguins
86
7.New York Rangers
86
8.Montreal Canadiens
83
9.Florida Panthers
81
10.Buffalo Sabres
76
Eastern Conference, 3/26
1.y-Boston Bruins
102 pts
2.x-New Jersey Devils
97
3.x-Washington Capitals
97
4.Philadelphia Flyers90
5.Carolina Hurricanes
89
6.Pittsburgh Penguins
88
7.New York Rangers
86
8.Montreal Canadiens
83
9.Florida Panthers
81
10.Buffalo Sabres
78

No movement in the overall standings from Wednesday's action, but Florida's playoff hopes definitely took a huge hit. Buffalo scored four third-period goals to beat the Panthers 5-3. The win keeps Buffalo very much alive for a spot, while hurting Florida tremendously.

Carolina kept pressure on Philadelphia for the fourth spot with a 2-1 win over Ottawa. The deficit is just one point, but the Flyers have four games in hand.

Pittsburgh continues their hot streak, too, meaning the Rangers and Canadiens need to keep winning if they want any hope of avoiding the potential death traps of Boston and New Jersey in the first round.

In the West

Western Conference, 3/25
1. x-Detroit Red Wings
107 pts
2. y-San Jose Sharks
106
3. Calgary Flames
90
4. Chicago Blackhawks
87
5. Vancouver Canucks
87
6. Columbus Blue Jackets
83
7. Edmonton Oilers
79
8. Anaheim Ducks
78
9. Nashville Predators
78
10. St. Louis Blues
77
11. Minnesota Wild
76
12. Dallas Stars
74
Western Conference, 3/25 1.x-Detroit Red Wings
107 pts2.y-San Jose Sharks
1063.Calgary Flames
904.Chicago Blackhawks
875.Vancouver Canucks
876.Columbus Blue Jackets
837.Edmonton Oilers
798.Anaheim Ducks
789.Nashville Predators
7810.St. Louis Blues
7711.Minnesota Wild
7612.Dallas Stars
74
Western Conference, 3/26
1. y-San Jose Sharks
107 pts
2. x-Detroit Red Wings
107
3. Calgary Flames
90
4. Chicago Blackhawks
89
5. Vancouver Canucks
87
6. Columbus Blue Jackets
83
7. Anaheim Ducks
80
8. Edmonton Oilers
79
9. Nashville Predators 78
10. Minnesota Wild
78
11. St. Louis Blues
77
12. Dallas Stars
74
Western Conference, 3/26 1.y-San Jose Sharks
107 pts2.x-Detroit Red Wings
1073.Calgary Flames
904.Chicago Blackhawks
895.Vancouver Canucks
876.Columbus Blue Jackets
837.Anaheim Ducks
808.Edmonton Oilers
799.Nashville Predators7810.Minnesota Wild
7811.St. Louis Blues
7712.Dallas Stars
74
Western Conference, 3/25
1.x-Detroit Red Wings
107 pts
2.y-San Jose Sharks
106
3.Calgary Flames
90
4.Chicago Blackhawks
87
5.Vancouver Canucks
87
6.Columbus Blue Jackets
83
7.Edmonton Oilers
79
8.Anaheim Ducks
78
9.Nashville Predators
78
10.St. Louis Blues
77
11.Minnesota Wild
76
12.Dallas Stars
74
Western Conference, 3/26
1.y-San Jose Sharks
107 pts
2.x-Detroit Red Wings
107
3.Calgary Flames
90
4.Chicago Blackhawks
89
5.Vancouver Canucks
87
6.Columbus Blue Jackets
83
7.Anaheim Ducks
80
8.Edmonton Oilers
79
9.Nashville Predators78
10.Minnesota Wild
78
11.St. Louis Blues
77
12.Dallas Stars
74

Anaheim is on fire. The Ducks won their fifth straight, blowing out Colorado 7-2 in Denver. Edmonton and Nashville each have a game in hand, but with the Ducks' performance lately, they seem like a lock. And who wants to play them in the first round?

San Jose pulled even and took over the top seed because they have played one less game than Detroit. The Sharks lost in a shootout to Chicago Wednesday, but were able to rally from a two-goal deficit to get a point. Chicago maintains fourth in the West with that win.

Minnesota still has a pulse, thanks to a 6-2 win over the lowly Islanders, who appear to be fully in John Tavares mode these days.

******
What's Next

Florida plays a second straight tough road game in Philadelphia. The Flyers are in great shape for the fourth spot, but they need to keep the momentum going.

Montreal's run for a playoff spot continues with a home date against Tampa Bay.

Calgary has a red-hot Vancouver team in their rear-view mirror, and the Northwest Division title may mean home-ice in the first round for one of them. The Flames visit Columbus, while Vancouver visits St. Louis. That's a huge game for the Blues, who are just a point back in the West race.

Nashville tries to stay right in the mix for a postseason berth as they host San Jose.

x - Clinched Playoff Spot, y - Division Champ, z - Conference Champ; green - Rise in the Standings, red - Fall

Race for the Cup, March 26 originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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