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NHL playoff picture in the West set; three East matchups come down to final day

The Stanley Cup playoff picture in the Western Conference is set, but five of the eight seedings in the East will come down to the final day of the regular season.

Sunday's tilt between the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins, originally scheduled for April 15 but postponed because of the Boston Marathon bombings, is the only game remaining on the NHL calendar, but it will have a big impact on the post-season matchups in the Eastern Conference.

Boston enters the game fourth in the East, while Ottawa is eighth. A Bruins victory in regulation moves them into second and sets up a series with the New York Islanders. Under that scenario, the Senators would remain eighth and take on the No. 1 seed Pittsburgh Penguins.

A Bruins victory in overtime or a shootout, meanwhile, would set up an Ottawa-Boston first-round series.

And more importantly to many Canadian hockey fans, a Boston win would ensure the first playoff series between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs since 1979.

But Ottawa could spoil that party with a victory in Boston. That result would mean the Bruins taking on the Maple Leafs and the Senators meeting the Canadiens.

A single point for Ottawa against Boston would see the Islanders meet the Penguins in the first round.

The only playoff matchup in the East that is set has the No. 3 Washington Capitals taking on the No. 6 New York Rangers.

Meanwhile, the Western Conference seeds are locked in and headlined by the No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks taking on the No. 8 Minnesota Wild.

Minnesota squeaked into the playoffs with a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night to deny the Columbus Blue Jackets a spot in the post-season.

Detroit was also on the bubble entering Saturday, but the Red Wings shut out the Dallas Stars 3-0 to qualify for the playoffs for the 22nd straight season.

The seventh-seeded Reds Wings will take on the No. 2 Anaheim Ducks, while third-seeds the Vancouver Canucks will face the No. 6 San Jose Sharks.

The No. 5 L.A. Kings will begin their title defence in St. Louis where they will meet the No. 4 Blues.

The playoffs begin Tuesday.

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