A trip around the Metropolitan Division: March 31

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins became the second team in the conference to punch their postseason ticket. The dogfight for home ice continues among the others in the division, while some others are clinging to life as the season goes down the stretch.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (48-22-5) 101 points

The Penguins clinched their eighth-straight postseason appearance on Friday as they edged the Blue Jackets 2-1.

That win snapped a three-game losing skid for the Penguins, as they joined the Bruins as the first teams to clinch the playoffs.

The Penguins, affected greatly by injuries, are 8-7-2 since the Olympic break. Evgeni Malkin, Marcel Goc and Pascal Dupuis are sidelined for Pittsburgh.

The Penguins knocked off Chicago 4-1 Sunday and will now host Carolina before traveling to Winnipeg and Minnesota this week.

Pittsburgh has seven games remaining to distance themselves from the rest of the division pack.

2. New York Rangers (42-30-4) 88 points

The Rangers had a season-high five game win streak snapped by Calgary on the road Friday, but responded to get back in stride as they throttled Edmonton 5-0 on the road.

New York sits two points on top of Philadelphia but have played two more games than the Flyers.

The Rangers' seven wins in the past 10 games are the most of anyone in the division during that period.

New York wraps up a four-game West Coast trip with outings at Vancouver and Colorado this week before hosting Ottawa.

The Rangers have six games left as they attempt to hold off the Flyers, who are nipping at their heels.

3. Philadelphia Flyers (39-27-8) 86 points

The Flyers are eyeing second place in the division as they sit two points behind the Rangers with two games in hand.

After having a five-game win streak snapped by the Kings and then losing again to the Rangers, the Flyers rebounded with a win over the Maple Leafs and a shootout loss to the Bruins on Sunday.

The upcoming week is a tough one for Flyers who visit the Blues and Bruins with a home matchup against division rival Columbus sandwiched in between.

The Flyers have eight games remaining.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets (38-30-6) 82 points

The Blue Jackets have eight games left to make moves toward third-place Philadelphia.

After knocking off the Hurricanes 3-2 on the road, the Blue Jackets set their sights on a tough stretch that brings Chicago and Colorado to town this week. In the middle of those two games lies a date with the Flyers- a crucial game for the standings.

If Columbus is to make a postseason push, they will have to improve their consistency as they have won only five times in their past 10 games.

5. Washington Capitals (34-28-12) 80 points

The Capitals started off a stretch of five of their next six away from home with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Predators.

Two of the teams Washington is chasing in the division have a game in hand on Washington, so the last seven games for the Capitals have a lot riding on them.

The Capitals host the Stars before hitting the road again for four-straight.

The Capitals and Stars begin play at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

6. New Jersey Devils (31-28-15) 77 points

The Devils have points in four of their past five games but still remain in a fight if they are to get to the playoffs.

New Jersey will begin their push for the playoffs with a home game against the Panthers on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

The extra points that the Devils have left on the board by virtue of the shootout are beginning to look big. The squad went 0-10 in the mini-game on the season.

The Devils have three games left against division foes, including a back-to-back with Washington and Carolina- a sequence that could be very important for the Devils.

7. Carolina Hurricanes (32-32-10) 74 points

The Hurricanes have found some wins in the latter half of March, but it has been balanced out with losses- dropping them to seventh in the division and only six points on top of the last place Islanders.

.500 hockey has been the story for Carolina who is 5-4-1 in their past 10 and has seen hot streaks from their division peers sink them like a stone.

Carolina plays five of their last eight on the road after getting dropped in overtime by division rival Columbus on Saturday- perhaps the death rattle in fitting fashion for Carolina.

Jeff Skinner continues a solid season, however, notching his 29th goal of the season in the loss.

The Hurricanes and Senators play in Ottawa on Monday. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.

8. New York Islanders (29-35-10) 68 points

Like Carolina, the Islanders are 5-3-2 in their past 10, and that isn't moving them anywhere.

As the team sits in last place with eight games left- they will look to see what kind of resolve their squad has.

Five of New York's last eight are road games. They next play Tuesday against the Panthers in the front half o a back-to-back that finishes up in Ottawa on Wednesday.

The Panthers and Islanders begin play at 7 p.m.

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