The final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference could be decided in a play-in game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers, the NHL announced Friday.
Here are the circumstances under which the game will happen, as outlined by the league:
- If at the conclusion of the regular season two teams competing for the final playoff berth in a conference are tied in points, ROW (regulation plus overtime wins), points in their season series (excluding the first home game for the team that has the extra game) and goal differential for the season, a tiebreaking game will be played.
- As it stands, the Flyers (41-26-14, 96 points) currently hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, with the Florida Panthers (42-30-8, 92 points) the only team capable of grabbing it away from them.
- The Flyers (81 games played ) and Panthers (80 games played ) are tied in ROW (39), split their season series (after eliminating the odd home game between them), and Philadelphia currently is +3 in goal differential for the season, while Florida is -1.
- Therefore, the teams would play a tiebreaking game if Philadelphia loses its final game of the season by two goals exactly (Saturday vs. Rangers) and Florida wins its final two contests, both in shootouts (Saturday vs. Sabres, Sunday at Bruins).
- An equally weighted draw will be conducted to determine home ice advantage.
- If the score of the game is tied after regulation, Stanley Cup Playoff overtime rules will apply, meaning continuous, sudden-death 20-minute periods until a goal is scored.
It's a long shot, and the Flyers can clinch their spot with a single point Saturday against the Rangers before the Panthers even take to the ice against Buffalo.