The Seattle Kraken and Arizona Coyotes are all but locked in to where they will finish in the standings as they face off Monday night in Tempe, Ariz
Seattle (45-26-8, 98 points) is fourth in the Pacific Division and has the No. 1 wild-card spot locked up in the Western Conference with three games remaining, including a difficult home-and-home with the Pacific-leading Vegas Golden Knights (49-22-9, 107 points).
The Kraken trail the third-place Los Angeles Kings (45-25-10, 100 points) by two points but Los Angeles still has games remaining against two non-playoff teams, at home against Vancouver on Monday and at last-place Anaheim on Thursday
So barring a collapse by the Kings, the Kraken will likely be playing the winner of the Central Division in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs which begin April 17
Seattle, which can hit the 100-point milestone with a win over Arizona, brings a four-game win streak into the contest. Included in that streak is a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes on Thursday that clinched the second-year team's first playoff berth
Kraken defenseman Carson Soucy said it's important for his team not to take its foot off the gas waiting for the playoffs to begin
"These games are important just to keep rounding out our game," Soucy told the Seattle Times. "Go into the playoffs on the right foot. We definitely don't want to take a couple of games off and then try to fire it back up for the playoffs. We want to be (playing) playoff hockey right now."
The Kraken are coming off a 7-3 home win over Chicago on Saturday. Seven different players scored, including Jared McCann, who potted his team-leading 39th goal
"Our strength all year is our depth," said Jordan Eberle, who had a goal and an assist. "Every line, it seems like we're getting contributions from different guys, different lines, defense pairings, whatever it may be. That's obviously a big skill to have going into the playoffs and something that's tough to beat."
Arizona (28-39-13, 69 points) is already set for a seventh-place finish in the Central Division. The Coyotes, who are 21-14-4 in their first season at Mullett Arena, snapped a nine-game losing streak (0-7-2) with a 5-4 overtime victory over visiting Anaheim on Saturday
Barrett Hayton scored the winner with one minute remaining in overtime after rookie Matias Maccelli, second among all rookies in the NHL with 48 points, tied it with 35 seconds left with his 11th goal.
Maccelli and forward Clayton Keller each had a goal and an assist. Keller has 37 goals and 85 points, one point off the Coyotes franchise single-season points record of 86 set by Keith Tkachuk in 1996-97
Arizona coach Andre Tourigny was asked if it was important to build momentum for his young team heading into the offseason.
"It's always more fun to win, if that's the question," Tourigny said with a smile. "It's an easy answer. ... We want to finish on the right notes. It's fun after the game when you win. Everybody's smiling and you have pride for what you did. And we're all professional. We want to win every night. We want to win 82 (games)."
--Field Level Media