Files from Associated Press. Picks from Covers.com staff.
New York Rangers at Boston Bruins (-181, 5.5)
The Boston Bruins may have regained their swagger just in time for a run at their first Stanley Cup in 37 years. With one more point, they will secure the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
They also wouldn't mind sending a message to the team that could await them in the first round.
The Bruins look to extend their winning streak to six Saturday afternoon against the visiting New York Rangers, who are still clawing for one of the conference's final playoff spots.
Boston (50-17-10) already has its first 50-win season in 16 years, and is now on the verge of clinching home-ice advantage throughout the East playoffs just two years removed from missing the postseason. Its lead over second-place Washington is eight points, and the Capitals have four games left.
"You can play for one team your whole career and never get 50 wins - and still have some real good seasons," goalie Tim Thomas said. "It's a credit to the team, the way it's built and the way the guys play together.
"But if you're running the Boston Marathon and you're leading after 20 miles, you don't stop to say, 'Man, I'm leading.'"
The Bruins had been embroiled in a 6-9-4 funk before their current winning streak, which has been sparked by superior special teams play. They're 7-for-17 on the power play in the last five games, while killing 18 of 19 penalties.
Pick: Boston -181
Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes (-120, 6)
Carolina set the record with Thursday's 4-2 win over the New York Rangers to surpass the mark set in 2005-06 - when it went on to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup. The Hurricanes haven't been to the playoffs since but that looks like it's going to change.
"We've got to keep this train rolling," said center Eric Staal, who had a goal and an assist against the Rangers.
Chad LaRose and Rod Brind'Amour scored 28 seconds apart in the third period Thursday for Carolina, which is on its longest win streak since reeling off nine in a row in 2005-06.
Goalie Cam Ward, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the 2006 playoffs, has been instrumental to Carolina's success, making 25 consecutive starts. He made 36 saves Thursday and is 17-6-2 with a 2.29 GAA and two shutouts since his last day off.
Although Ward has been a staple in Carolina's net for the past two months, he has only made one start against the Penguins this season, stopping 32 shots in a 2-1 victory on Jan. 20. He is 8-3-1 with a 2.47 GAA lifetime versus Pittsburgh.
The Hurricanes have three more games at the RBC Center before wrapping up the regular season next Saturday in New Jersey.
Pick: Carolina -120