Updated Bruins first-round scenarios, NHL playoff standings with two games left

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Updated Bruins first-round scenarios, playoff standings with two games left originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Tuesday night was a pivotal one in the Stanley Cup Playoff race, particularly in the Eastern Conference, where a couple important outcomes gave us a clearer picture of how the final standings will shake out.

The Boston Bruins, who beat the NHL-leading Florida Panthers 4-2 at TD Garden, now have just two potential first-round opponents -- the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes.

Here's an overview of where the Bruins sit in the playoff race with just two games remaining on their regular season schedule.

Eastern Conference Standings

Atlantic Division

The Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night to maintain their 3-point lead over the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay will clinch third place if it defeats the Blue Jackets again Thursday night.

The Bruins can still finish third in the division, but the chances of that happening are slim. They would leapfrog the Lightning by winning their last two games plus Tampa Bay losing its final two matchups in regulation.

A real Stanley Cup contender? Bruins make statement with win vs. Panthers

It's also possible for the Bruins to overtake the Lightning if they finish tied on points. The first tiebreaker is regulation wins, and the Bruins have a 39-38 advantage over the Bolts. There is no scenario in which the B's tie the Lightning on points and don't also have the regulation wins tiebreaker because to be tied Tampa Bay needs to lose both of its remaining in games in some fashion.

Here are the remaining schedules for these teams:

Wild Card

The Bruins, as a result of the Capitals' loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, cannot finish lower than the first wild card spot. So it's now impossible for the B's to play the Florida Panthers in the first round.

The Carolina Hurricanes clinched the Metropolitan Division title and second overall seed in the East with their win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. This means the Hurricanes will play the first wild card team in Round 1, and that's most likely going to be the Bruins.

Projected Finish

It would be pretty surprising if the Bruins jumped over the Lightning in the standings. Tampa Bay has a slightly easier schedule and no compelling reason to punt on its remaining two games.

Right now, the odds are pretty good that we'll see a Bruins-Hurricanes matchup for the third time in the last four postseasons. That wouldn't be a bad outcome for the Bruins given the Hurricanes' injury issues at the goaltender position, although Carolina would have home ice advantage in that series.

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team's win over the Panthers on Tuesday night that he intends to play his regular lineup Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. What about Friday night versus the Toronto Maple Leafs? Cassidy isn't sure yet. If the Bruins know their first-round opponent after Thursday, then there's no reason for Cassidy to play his top guys against the Leafs in the regular season finale.