WHO CAN CLINCH: The idle Philadelphia Flyers will seize the first playoff berth in the East with a victory in Dallas tonight.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Atlanta Thrashers (30-29-12) at Buffalo Sabres (34-28-8), 7 p.m. ET
The Sabres have one game in hand against the Thrashers and the weakest strength of schedule over their remaining games among teams eighth through 12th in the East. It seems like the bottom couple teams in the East -- no matter who they’ve been -- have slowed down a times to let everybody else catch up. The Sabres did just that Tuesday, losing to a Carolina Hurricanes team that enters even with them with points (76).
Buffalo is 2-0-1 heading into this fourth and final meeting between these two clubs. Defenseman Andrej Sekera enters on a tear, scoring 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) over the last 10 games. The Thrashers appeared to have to have solved their recent malaise, winning five of the last six games to become contenders again. (The Thrashers enter in 10th place, four points behind the Sabres.) Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien have averaged a point a game against the Sabres this season.
ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Anaheim Ducks (38-27-5) at Los Angeles Kings (40-26-5), 10 p.m. ET
A victory by the Ducks against their SoCal rivals would put all five teams in the competitive Pacific Division back in playoff contention. Ray Emery earned his first NHL win in more than a year with a 30-save effort against St. Louis and could get the start in net again for the Ducks. The Kings will likely counter with Jonathan Quick, who has lost eight of this last 12 games.
GOLF WATCH: The Colorado Avalanche will be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss tonight to the Edmonton Oilers, the only team already mathematically eliminated.