How NHL tiebreaker procedures would determine the Western Conference series

The NHL is down to the final day of the regular season, the Eastern Conference matchups are set and two of the four Western Conference playoff series are not.

So here is a reminder of the NHL's tiebreaking procedure if two teams end up with the same number of points.

  1. Regulation wins

  2. Regulation and overtime wins

  3. Total wins

  4. Most points earned in head-to-head competition: If teams had an uneven number of meetings, the first game played in the city that has the extra game is excluded.

  5. Goal differential

  6. Total goals

The impact of that was evident on Tuesday. The Philadelphia Flyers' only shot at staying alive in the Eastern Conference race was to beat the Washington Capitals in regulation. They would have tied the Capitals on the first four categories and won on the fifth, goal differential. The Flyers also needed the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins to lose in regulation.

So they pulled their goalie for an extra skater in the final minutes and it backfired when Washington's T.J. Oshie scored an empty-net goal. The 2-1 Washington win gave the second wild-card seed to the Capitals and eliminated the Red Wings, Penguins and Flyers.

Here's how tiebreakers could affect the final two Western Conference playoff series:

The defending champion Vegas Golden Knights will face the Edmonton Oilers or Dallas Stars in the first round.
The defending champion Vegas Golden Knights will face the Edmonton Oilers or Dallas Stars in the first round.

Third place in the Pacific Division

The Golden Knights lead the Kings in points, 98 to 97. If the Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, they finish with 99 points. The Kings would finish with 98 if they lose in overtime or a shootout. The Golden Knights (playing the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday) could finish with 100, 99 or 98 points. Whoever finishes with the most points clinches the third seed and a first-round matchup against the Edmonton Oilers. The other team would face the Dallas Stars.

It's possible for the Kings and Golden Knights to finish tied with 99 or 98 points.

Who gets the higher seed then? The Kings clinch because they have more regulation wins. In that case, the Kings would face the Oilers. The Golden Knights would drop to the second wild-card seed and face the Stars.

The Predators (99) are locked into the first wild-card spot because they have the first tiebreaker edge on the Golden Knights and the second tiebreaker edge on the Kings.

What are the Western Conference playoff series?

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights or Los Angeles Kings

Winnipeg Jets vs. Colorado Avalanche

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators

Edmonton Oilers vs. Golden Knights or Kings

What are the Eastern Conference playoff series?

New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL playoff picture: Tiebreakers may mold Western Conference matchups