NHL playoff picture: Blue Jackets take over eighth seed

USA TODAY Sports

With the NHL regular season coming to a close, the playoff race is heating up.

The Columbus Blue Jackets re-emerged in the playoff picture following an overtime victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.

Columbus' claim to the eighth seed in the Western Conference was aided by the Calgary Flames' 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit's loss came as a result of two sloppy plays behind its own net that directly turned into goals against.

The Blue Jackets win also clinched the No. 1 seed for the Chicago Blackhawks.

In the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins inched closer to wrapping up the No. 1 seed following a 6-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal is still struggling with keeping pucks out of its own net and lost the No. 2 seed to the Boston Bruins as a result of the loss. Boston lost to the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout but managed to clinch a playoff berth because of the loser's point.

Here's a look at the playoff picture entering competition on Thursday:

Eastern Conference

1. Pittsburgh Penguins, 66 points (43 games played) -- Y
2. Boston Bruins, 57 points (42 GP) -- X
3. Washington Capitals, 50 points (43 GP)
4. Montreal Canadiens, 57 points (43 GP) -- X
5. Toronto Maple Leafs, 53 points (43 GP)
6. Ottawa Senators, 50 points (42 GP)
7. New York Islanders, 49 points (43 GP)
8. New York Rangers, 46 points (42 GP)
----
9. Winnipeg Jets, 46 points (43 GP)
10. Buffalo Sabres, 44 points (44 GP)

Western Conference

1. Chicago Blackhawks, 70 points (42 GP) -- Z
2. Anaheim Ducks, 60 points (43 GP) - X
3. Vancouver Canucks, 55 points (43 GP)
4. Los Angeles Kings, 53 points (43 GP)
5. San Jose Sharks, 53 points (43 GP)
6. Minnesota Wild, 51 points (43 GP)
7. St. Louis Blues, 50 points (42 GP)
8. Columbus Blue Jackets, 49 points (44 GP)
----
9. Detroit Red Wings, 47 points (43 GP)
10. Dallas Stars, 45 points (42 GP

Z- denotes clinched conference
Y- denotes clinched division
X- denotes clinched playoff berth

****

Here's Thursday night's slate of games:

New York Islanders at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m., ET
TV: MSG PLUS 2, LEAFS TV
Playoff implication: Islanders can take over the No. 6 seed with a win and an Ottawa regulation loss. Toronto also has a chance to clinch a playoff berth.

Florida Panthers at New York Rangers, 7 p.m., ET
TV: SUN, MSG

Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m., ET
TV: RDS, FS-F, TSN-HABS
Playoff implication: Montreal can regain the Northeast lead with a point.

Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m., ET
TV: CSN-DC, SNET-E, TVA

New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:30 p.m., ET
TV: TSN, NBCSN, MSG PLUS, CSN-PH

Carolina Hurricanes at Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m., ET
TV: FS-CR, TSN-JETS
Playoff implication: Winnipeg can take over the eighth seed with a single point and a Rangers regulation loss.

Phoenix Coyotes at St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m., ET
TV: FS-A PLUS, FS-MW
Playoff implication: St. Louis can take over the No. 6 seed with one point and a Minnesota loss.

Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars, 8:30 p.m., ET
TV: SNET-P, FS-SW

Columbus Blue Jackets at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m., ET
TV: FS-O, FS-W
Playoff implication: Columbus could take over the seventh seed with a win and St. Louis loss.

Minnesota Wild at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m., ET
TV: NHLN-US, FS-N, FS-WI, CSN-CA
Playoff implication: San Jose can take over the No. 4 seed in the event of earning more points on Thursday night than the Los Angeles Kings. Minnesota can take over the No. 5 seed with a regulation win.

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