BUFFALO, N.Y. — After a unique, COVID-19 driven season in the National Hockey League, 16 of the 31 teams will begin to battle it out for the Stanley Cup, starting with Game 1 of a seven-game series between two of the Buffalo Sabres East division opponents this season, the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins Saturday at 7:15 p.m. on Channel 2/NBC.
The East division's top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins will host the New York Islanders in Game 1, Sunday at 3 p.m., also on Channel 2/NBC.
The postseason will be as unique as the regular season, with each of the 16 teams to make the playoffs, battling it out in two series within their divisions, until four teams remain to get to the Stanley Cup semifinals.
The Colorado Avalanche (39-13-4) won the President's Trophy in the 56-game regular season and tops the West division, which includes the Vegas Golden Knights, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues.
The Carolina Hurricanes clinched the top of the Central division, with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators getting into the playoffs.
In the all-Canadian North division, the Toronto Maple Leafs led the way. The Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens will join them in the postseason.