With half a dozen games left in the NHL regular season, seven teams are still in contention for the final three playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.
Tuesday's slate of games could go a long way toward bringing the playoff picture into focus as all seven teams are in action in critical contests.
To give you an idea of how tight things are in the conference, 11 points separate the New York Rangers (sixth in the East with 87 points) and the Florida Panthers (12th, 76 points).
The Tampa Bay Lightning (seventh, 86 points) are hot on the Rangers' tail. Trailing the Lightning are three teams — the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens — tied for eighth place, with 84 points apiece.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, 11th with 82 points, are also in contention.
Hurricanes at Maple Leafs
The Leafs play host to the defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes on Tuesday night in a game neither club can afford to lose.
Toronto, behind eighth-place Carolina by two points, has won four of its last seven overall, including Saturday's 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, the best team in the NHL.
After Tuesday's game, the Leafs' six remaining contests include matchups with the Rangers, Islanders and Canadiens, putting even more pressure on Toronto to keep winning
"We got a chance and that's all that matters to us," said right-winger Darcy Tucker after Saturday's victory. "We just have to win our games."
Carolina has won three straight and five of its last seven overall, including Saturday's 6-4 home victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Like the Leafs, the Hurricanes have to keep winning if they hope to nail down a playoff berth.
"We need to win all of them," said Carolina winger Andrew Ladd. "A win's a win at this point of the season, and we'll take all we can get."
Rangers at Canadiens
The Canadiens are also fighting for their playoff lives.
Montreal welcomes the Rangers on Tuesday with the Habs looking to win their fifth straight overall.
"There are a lot of good things going on for us right now but the reality of it is that everybody's waiting to see what happens with the other games," Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said.
The Canadiens' winning streak has allowed them to climb into a tie for eighth place in the East with the Hurricanes and Islanders.
"We've been playing so well lately," Habs forward Alex Kovalev said. "I know we have a big test in front of us."
But Montreal will have its work cut out for itself as it faces one of the hottest goalies in the NHL.
Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist has won all five games of New York's current winning streak while posting an 0.58 goals-against average and two shutouts.
"It's about getting points," said Rangers left-winger Brendan Shanahan.
Devils at Islanders
The Islanders play host to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, looking to rebound from a disappointing 2-1 overtime loss to the Rangers Sunday.
The Islanders gained a point, but the loss prevented them from taking sole possession of eighth place in the East.
"We can't be satisfied," Islanders forward Ryan Smyth said. "We've got seven games remaining and we've got to find a way through to capitalize and get two [points] and minimize other teams getting points."
Panthers at Lightning
Tampa Bay, home to the Panthers onTuesday, is in the unique position of winning its division and missing the playoffs entirely at the same time.
The Lightning only trail the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Thrashers by two points, but they rank seventh in the East, just two points ahead of the Islanders, Hurricanes and Canadiens.
Florida is still alive, but just barely.
The Panthers are eight points out of the three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the East and will likely miss the post-season if they fail to earn two points in Tampa Bay.