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Lundqvist enjoying five-team NHL playoff race Rangers are in

"Yes, every once in a while you look at it," the New York Rangers goalie said Wednesday.

Who can blame him? Only two points separate five teams chasing the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, with nearly each game jumbling up the order from seventh to 11th.

"It feels like you're already in the playoffs," Lundqvist said. "Every game means a lot. It's fun to play, too. It's an intense game right now. ...

"It's going to be a very interesting couple of weeks to see what's going to happen."

The New York Islanders (78 points), Carolina Hurricanes (78 points), Toronto Maple Leafs (77 points), Rangers (76 points) and Montreal Canadiens (76 points) all took a breather Wednesday.

A look at what's ahead of them this week:

-Islanders - Thursday at Ottawa and Saturday at Florida;

-Hurricanes - Home and home with New Jersey on Thursday and Saturday;

-Maple Leafs - Friday at Washington and Saturday at Montreal;

-Rangers - Friday at Atlanta and Saturday at home to Boston;

-Habs - Friday at Pittsburgh and Saturday at home to the Leafs.

The regular season wraps up April 8.

"There are a lot of good teams that will miss the playoffs," said Lundqvist. "It's a long run to make it to the playoffs. And then from there it's like a new season. New teams show up with great resolve in the playoffs, like last year with Edmonton."

The Rangers are coming off a 3-2 loss at home to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night, a tough to pill to swallow after giving up a 2-0 lead. Lundqvist insisted his team won't dwell on it.

"Right now we're just getting ready for Friday," said the Swedish Olympic gold medallist. "We don't try to focus too much on what happened last night. I still think we feel confident. We feel like it's a mission that's possible, to make the playoffs.

"It's going to be a tight race to the end."


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