Western Conference playoff picture: Wild keep rolling, Ducks and Preds clinch

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The Minnesota Wild moved into the third seed in the Central Division with a 4-1 victory over the L.A. Kings on Saturday night. The Wild, who trailed the Chicago Blackhawks by 16 points on Jan. 27, now lead the Blackhawks by a point.

Minny’s win moves Chicago into the second wild card seed in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks have a pair of games in hand on the Wild.

With the Kings losing earlier in the night, Vancouver was able to create a three-point cushion between themselves and L.A. with a single point in their 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. The Canucks own the second seed in the Pacific Division.

The Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators added to their respective division leads with wins on Saturday.

Nashville hung on for a 4-3 win Saturday afternoon in Washington. With the win, the Preds clinched a playoff berth and moved three points ahead of the St. Louis Blues atop the Central Division.

The Ducks edged the New York Islanders 3-2 punching their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Anaheim now has a 12 point lead on the second place Vancouver Canucks in the Pacific Division.

The St. Louis Blues fell 4-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets failing to gain ground in the race for the Central Division crown.

Chicago and Winnipeg hold the two wild card seeds entering Sunday’s action while the Calgary Flames are three points back of a wild card position and just one point back of the L.A. Kings for the third seed in the Pacific Division.

All three teams play on Sunday.

Holtby doesn’t even last 15 minutes vs. Preds

It was an early start for Braden Holtby on Saturday, and it looks like his afternoon will be done early, too.

The Washington Capitals’ starter is having a rough afternoon as the Nashville Predators chased him with three goals on 13 shots. Holtby didn’t quite make it through 15 minutes of the first period before giving way to Justin Peters.

The final goal Holtby allowed was a ruthless snipe by Filip Forsberg.

Goalie nods: Lundqvist won’t get to ease back in

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Long live the King?

As already noted earlier today, it appears as though Henrik Lundqvist will make his return to the New York Rangers’ net as they face the Boston Bruins (who most likely will roll with Tuukka Rask).

Normally, this would be a cause for outright glee, and it’s true that “King Henrik” will be gladly welcomed back into the fold. Still, the Rangers have been on a tear thanks in a large part to Cam Talbot’s wonderful play in Hank’s absence, so it remains to be seen if New York sees a little fall-off.

Let there be no doubt that the Bruins will send their best at Lundqvist, so this isn’t exactly an example of easing a player back into the mix.

This is just one of several games during an unusually busy Saturday afternoon, so hopefully hockey fans already got their errands (and napping) done today.

Elsewhere:

Predators at Capitals: Pekka Rinne vs. Braden Holtby

Ducks at Islanders: Probably Frederik Andersen vs. Michal Neuvirth

Sharks at Flyers: Alex Stalock vs. (likely) Steve Mason

Coyotes at Penguins: Mike Smith vs. Thomas Greiss

Lightning at Red Wings: Likely Ben Bishop s. Petr Mrazek

Senators at Maple Leafs: Craig Anderson vs. James Reimer

Panthers at Canadiens: Roberto Luongo vs. Carey Price

Devils at Hurricanes: Keith Kinkaid vs. Cam Ward

Blue Jackets at Blues: Likely Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Brian Elliott

Kings at Wild: Likely Jonathan Quick vs. Devan Dubnyk

Sabres at Avalanche: ANders Lindback vs. Semyon Varlamov

Stars at Canucks: Maybe Kari Lehtonen vs. Eddie Lack

Preds’ Weber out with a lower-body injury

The Nashville Predators are aiming to clinch a playoff spot on Saturday, but they’ll face the Washington Capitals without Shea Weber.

The all-star defenseman is out with a lower-body injury, which is considered a day-to-day issue, according to the team. It’s not immediately obvious how, exactly, the hard-shooting blueliner got hurt.

Weber, 29, has 15 goals and 45 points in 75 games so far this season. He’s a big part of a Predators defense that can create a lot of offense.

Check today’s various playoff-clinching scenarios here.

Take a look at Nashville’s defensive pairing sans-Shea:

Caps’ Wilson the latest to be fined for diving

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Washington forward Tom Wilson has been fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment, the NHL announced on Friday.

From the league:

Wilson was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 936 against Toronto on March 1. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 1057 at Minnesota on March 19.

Wilson received a minor penalty for embellishment on the play, at 14:45 of the second period.

Video of the incident:

With that, Wilson becomes the eighth player to be fined for diving this season, joining Toronto’s Richard Panik, Islanders goalie Michal Neuvirth (fine occurred while with Buffalo), the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Florida’s Vincent Trocheck and Nashville’s James Neal and Montreal’s P.K. Subban, who has been fined twice.