Ottawa will do just that Wednesday as Boston, occupying the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, uses its game in hand on the Senators in Washington. The Bruins failed to clinch a playoff berth on Tuesday when Ottawa posted a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win over Pittsburgh.
The Senators and Bruins enter Wednesday's action with 95 points apiece but Boston holds the tiebreaker with 37 regulation and overtime wins (ROW) to 35 for Ottawa.
The other two games tonight pit Western Conference-leading Anaheim against Dallas, and Toronto against Columbus.
Here's what you need to know:
Big man returns
There was probably a collective sigh of relief at Boston's practice Tuesday when six-foot-nine, 255-pound defenceman Zdeno Chara stepped on the ice after he missed Monday's workout to recover from the after-effects of a blocked shot off his left ankle in Saturday's 2-1 shootout win over Toronto.
The 38-year-old Chara, who has eight goals and 20 points in 60 games, missed 19 games earlier this season with a significant knee injury. The Bruins are without fellow blue-liner Dougie Hamilton (upper-body injury) for the rest of the regular season while Dennis Seidenberg, who missed Tuesday's practice with flu-like symptoms, probably won't be 100 per cent should he suit up against Washington.
The Capitals have won the first two games in the season series and goaltender Braden Holtby has turned aside all 61 shots he's faced, including a 32-save performance in the most recent meeting on March 15.
Holtby is expected to make his NHL-leading 71st start on Wednesday. His eight shutouts are second to Montreal's Carey Price and Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury (nine each) and he sports a 2.24 GAA and .922 save percentage.
Home ice in play
Washington is second in the Metropolitan Division with 99 points, one more than the third-place New York Islanders, and both teams have two games remaining. The Capitals will get home-ice advantage if they beat Boston and the NHL-leading New York Rangers on Saturday. Washington is 22-12-5 at the Verizon Center this season.
The Bruins' top forward line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak was back together at Tuesday's practice as head coach Claude Julien looks for some consistency in all three zones. Krejci is still working his way back from a torn knee ligament that cost him 15 games. As for the other units, Patrice Bergeron centred Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand while Carl Soderberg had Greg Campbell and Reilly Smith on his flanks. The fourth line had Ryan Spooner between Chris Kelly and Brett Connolly. Julien cautioned the lines could change again before the puck is dropped in Washington.
The Capitals might start four rookies up front as forwards Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson, all suffering from upper-body injuries, continue their recovery. The good news for Wilson, who tops the club in penalty minutes with 172, is he passed his concussion tests after he slid on the ice to block Detroit defenceman Danny DeKeyser's slapshot in Sunday's 2-1 victory. Emergency recalls Andre Burakovsky and Stanislav Galiev are likely to play.
Draft lottery watch
Toronto visits Columbus with more than a potential three-game sweep of the season series at stake. The Maple Leafs are 27th in the 30-team league, two points behind Carolina with three games left for both teams. Leapfrogging the Hurricanes could jeopardize Toronto's chances at drafting Ontario Hockey League star Dylan Strome of the Erie Otters, who would fill a need at centre. The Leafs hold the tiebreaker with 25 regulation and OT wins (ROW) to Carolina's 24.
Ducks look to build on West lead
The Pacific Division champion Anaheim DuckshostDallas at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Ducks have a two-point edge over St. Louis in the Western Conference and are second to Nashville in the conference in home victories with 26.