CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10: Michael Frolik #67 of the Chicago Blackhawks slides across the ice after scoring a goal in the 2nd period against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center on April 10, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

NHL Playoff Picture: Blackhawks Fall Into Playoffs After Stars Lose To Wild

After losing on Sunday afternoon to Detroit, the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves holding on to the final playoff spot thanks to Minnesota's win over Dallas in the season's final game.

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NHL Playoff Picture: Eastern Matchups Set; Rangers In, Carolina Out

Well, it is all finished in the Eastern Conference, we have our playoff match-ups. This comes after the New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2, and the Carolina Hurricanes lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. The Rangers are in, the Hurricanes for the second time in four seasons, are out in their final game of the campaign.

Also, the Flyers, Canadiens and Sabres were victorious tonight, meaning that all the seeds will stay in their prior place. Here are your 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal match-ups:

#8 NY Rangers vs. #1 Washington

#7 Buffalo vs. #2 Philadelphia

#6 Montreal vs. #3 Boston

#5 Tampa Bay vs. #4 Pittsburgh

Already a couple of match-ups stick out. Montreal and Boston will be crazy, and even more of a riotous atmosphere should Max Pacioretty return. Will we ever see Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh? How often will people refer to the time the Rangers blew out the Capitals in front of the 24/7 cameras in December? Buffalo beat Philadelphia on Friday night, how much momentum do they have on the Flyers? Every series appears compelling from the start. We'll decide the West tomorrow, and there will be some great match-ups there.

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NHL Playoff Picture 2011: Sabres Clinch, Hurricanes Push Rangers To Brink, Hawks A Point Away

A few things have been settled in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday night before the late games get going. One team has clinched, one is a period away from doing so, and one more can clinch late tonight. 

Everyone in the early games appears to either have taken care of or are taking care of business. First off, the Sabres came back to tie the Philadelphia Flyers on a highlight reel goal by Nathan Gerbe (who tallied twice). Then they got the winner in overtime, as Thomas Vanek cashed in at 1:16 of the extra period. The Sabres have now clinched a post-season berth. They can move as high as sixth in the conference if they beat the Blue Jackets in Columbus tomorrow and Montreal loses to Toronto.  

The Carolina Hurricanes perhaps made the loudest statement of the evening, taking advantage of the opening the Rangers have given them, beating the Atlanta Thrashers handily, 6-1 in Atlanta. Ironically, it was the Thrashers who opened the door for the Hurricanes by beating the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. Six different players scored for Carolina. The Hurricanes now have a tie-breaker on the Rangers, putting them in the eighth seed for now. A loss by the Rangers to New Jersey in regulation tomorrow afternoon, or a Carolina win in regulation or overtime at home against Tampa Bay will get the Hurricanes into the post-season. 

In the West, the Nashville Predators are inching towards another playoff berth, as they lead Columbus 3-1 late in the third period. Patrick Hornqvist has tallied twice for the Preds. Nashville can move as high as fourth in the Western Conference, which would give the club their first ever home-ice advantage in a Stanley Cup Playoff series. 

The Dallas Stars miraculous run appears to be continuing. The Stars lead the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 late in the second period. It is the second straight night the two teams are playing. Dallas has gotten goals from Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson. They'll eventually need the Blackhawks or Ducks to lose to create an opening, and they can't afford a shootout, but there is still belief in Big D. 

The Ducks and Kings are scoreless in the first, and that's a game you can follow along with me here on SB Nation. The Ducks clinch a post-season spot with a win. 

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