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Rangers among four East teams with chance to clinch playoffs Tuesday


There's a good chance the first NHL playoff spot to be clinched this season will go to an Eastern Conference team, with four clubs owning a clinching scenario for Tuesday night.

The Vancouver Canucks could have become the first team to lock up their spot on Monday night, but lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings.

On Tuesday, the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes all have clinching scenarios to lock up their spots. 

The Rangers have the most straightforward path, needing a win over the Philadelphia Flyers to reach the playoffs for the third straight season. New York can also clinch by picking up a point against Philadelphia and have the Detroit Red Wings lose in any fashion. A Red Wings loss in regulation against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, would also see the Rangers clinch.

The Bruins, who won the Presidents Trophy last season and clinched the league's first playoff spot, will clinch with a win over the Panthers and a Red Wings loss in regulation.

On the other side of that matchup, the Panthers will need a win over the Bruins and either a Red Wings loss or a Flyers loss in regulation. If the Flyers pick up a point on Tuesday, the Panthers would also need to see the Capitals lose to Detroit in regulation, along with picking up two points of their own.

The Hurricanes will clinch a sixth straight postseason berth with a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins and either a Red Wings loss or a Flyers loss in regulation. Like the Panthers, a single point for the Flyers would complicate things for Carolina, who would then also need a Capitals regulation loss in addition to win of their own.

The Rangers currently lead the Eastern Conference with 98 points, but the race for the top seed remains a four-way race, with the Panthers, Hurricanes and Bruins all just one point back. In the Presidents' Trophy race, the Rangers are tied atop the league standings with the Vancouver Canucks, with the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars among the many teams at 97 points.