BOSTON (CBS) -- The playoff picture is starting to get a lot clearer for the Boston Bruins. With a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, the Bruins will now finish no worse than the first Wild Card in the East.
The top wild card spot would match Boston up with the top team in the Metropolitan Division, which the Carolina Panthers claimed Tuesday night with a win over the New York Rangers. That would be a tough first-round series for the B's, as they lost all three regular season matchups with the Canes by a combined score of 16-1. That included 7-1 and 6-0 losses in Boston.
So a first-round matchup with the Hurricanes would not be ideal. But the Bruins do have a chance to jump up in the Atlantic Division over the final days of the regular season.
Boston could jump to third in the division, which would bring a first-round matchup with the Maple Leafs. The B's are 0-2 against Toronto so far, with one head-to-head matchup remaining. But the Bruins would need some help to jump into third place in the Atlantic.
The Bruins currently trail the Tampa Bay Lightning by three points with two games remaining for both teams. Boston has a home game against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday and a road matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, while the Bolts close the season with road games against the Blue Jackets and Islanders.
Boston would need to win its final two games while Tampa would have to go 0-2-0 for the B's to leapfrog the Lightning in the standings. Boston going 2-0-0 while Tampa going 0-1-1 would give both teams 109 points, so it would come down to regulation wins as a tiebreaker. The Bruins own that tiebreaker at the moment, with 39 regulation victories to Tampa Bay's 38.
Basically, the Lightning cannot earn more than one point over the last two games, while the Bruins need to secure at least three of four points over the final two games to jump up in the standings. If Tampa wins either of its last two games, or the Bruins lose either of their last two in regulation, the Lightning will lock up the No. 3 seed.
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