Apr 25, 2013, 11:26 PM EDT
It looks like the Western Conference playoff race will be a fight to the end for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings and possibly the Minnesota Wild.
While the Red Wings handled the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Thursday, the Blue Jackets topped the Dallas Stars 3-1 to stay in the running for a playoff spot.
In a humorous twist, fans of the Red Wings and Blue Jackets will go from jeering Thursday’s opponents for becoming one-night fans of those respective squads on Saturday. The Stars host the Red Wings while the Blue Jackets have a home game against the Predators to close out all four teams’ seasons.
Even if the Blue Jackets do win, the Red Wings only need one point to clinch a postseason spot while the Wild only need one win or two overtime/shootout losses (both squads hold insurmountable tiebreaker advantages over Columbus).
Don’t worry about all the drama being sapped away before the Blue Jackets can even finish their last game, though. While Minnesota can wrap things up on Friday, both the Blue Jackets and Red Wings play at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, so Columbus isn’t likely to hear that it’s all for naught early in the game.
In a way, it echoes the NBA’s sublime setup for the end of the Western Conference playoff run, as the Los Angeles Lakers were forced to win their last game after the Utah Jazz forced the issue.
Saturday’s advantage: it’s hockey. Saturday’s shortcoming: very low odds for Kobe Bryant Twitter commentary.
- Lundqvist shuts out Red Wings to claim 300th victory 0
- NHL on NBCSN: Hawks know they can’t take Sabres lightly 6
- NHL on NBC: Red Wings, Rangers fight to cling onto playoff spots 2
- Video: Flames score center-ice goal against Canucks’ Lack 17
- Stars believe Lehtonen suffered concussion from Haula collision (update) 22
- Video: Stars retire Mike Modano’s jersey 11
- Rostislav Klesla passes on joining Sabres organization following trade 12
- Ryan Murray has knee surgery, likely done for season 1
- Washington finally signs top prospect Kuznetsov 33
- Roberto Luongo records the shutout in first game back with Panthers 31
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Report: Canucks want center, top prospect and first-rounder for Kesler (68)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (66)