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Time is running out; the remaining schedule for the current top three in the Atlantic Division

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The regular-season Atlantic Division title and playoff seeding is in play in the remaining schedule for Tampa Bay, Montreal and Detroit.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

And down the stretch they come!!...

Those shopping days are counting down to a precious few...

The regular season for the Lightning is truly in its home stretch, with all of 11 games remaining in the regular season schedule. A lot can change over 11 games, and many more have to be played throughout the NHL before the league closes the books on 2014-15's 82-game schedule for each team.

Last night's defeat of Les Habitants de Montreal pulled Tampa Bay even with them in the standings; the Bolts are tied atop of the Atlantic Division. Tonight, the game in-hand that the Canadiens have on the Lightning gets erased as they play the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.

The Detroit Red Wings, the third place club in the Atlantic, has three games in-hand on Tampa Bay and trails the Lightning by 6 points in the standings. The Wings also have two head-to-head games remaining with the Lightning, giving them more than a few chances to catch up in the standings...

Will they though? Can the Canadiens stave off the Lightning and win the Atlantic with their remaining schedule? How challenging is the remainder of the Lightning season for that matter?

Tampa Bay has six games left at home in their schedule, five on the road (all played in the final road trip of the season that gets underway after the current homestand concludes).

Opponent

Location / Date

Detroit

Home / March 20

Boston

Home / March 22

Florida

Home / March 24

Nashville

Home / March 26

Detroit

Away / March 28

Montreal

Away / March 30

Toronto

Away / March 31

Ottawa

Away / April 2

Florida

Away / April 4

New Jersey

Home / April 9

Boston

Home / April 11

The combined record of the Lightning's remaining schedule is 280-196-77, a just-over .500 winning percentage when you account for OT/Shootout losses for what they are (losses). Ottawa, Florida and Boston continue to play cat-and-mouse for the remaining wild card slot in the Eastern Conference, with Ottawa 5 points behind Boston and the Panthers trailing the Bruins by 6 points.

Montreal's remaining schedule gives them five games at home and seven on the road, ending the season with a farce against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto:

Opponent

Location / Date

Florida

Away / March 17

Carolina

Home / March 19

San Jose

Home / March 21

Nashville

Away / March 24

Winnipeg

Away / March 26

Florida

Home / March 28

Tampa Bay

Home / March 30

Washington

Home / April 2

New Jersey

Away / April 3

Florida

Away / April 5

Detroit

Home / April 9

Toronto

Away / April

That next-to-last game of the season could be rather noteworthy if Tampa Bay overtakes Montreal in the standings; a pre-second-season game if you will between playoff opponents.

Detroit has the more taxing remaining schedule (14 games) but the home-away split is more in their favor (8 home and 6 away) with a lengthy homestand commencing after their games in Florida this week:

Opponent

Location / Date

Florida

Away / Mach 19

Tampa Bay

Away / March 20

St. Louis

Home / March 22

Arizona

Home / March 24

Sharks

Home / March 26

Lightning

Home / March 28

NY Islanders

Away / March 29

Ottawa

Home / March 31

Boston

Home / April 2

Minnesota

Away / April 4

Washington

Home / April 5

Carolina

Home / April 7

Montreal

Away / April 9

Carolina

Away / April 11

While Tampa Bay and Montreal both have back-to-back games remaining on their schedule, it's Detroit's three back-to-back series that inspires a head-shake in disbelief. The four games remaining against Western Conference opponents is noteworthy; while the Coyotes are clearly out of contention, the Sharks have very slim homes, Minnesota has proven itself capable after being brushed off and left for dead in January as a bottom-dwelling also-ran, and then there's St. Louis...

In the end, between the Lightning, Canadiens and Red Wings, it's a point race - Tampa Bay has 22 remaining points it can grab in the standings, Montreal has 24, Detroit has 28. Detroit has a more meticulous road to travel to get those points, but it's not going to matter so much on April 12 when the goal for all three clubs shifts from the standings and points to a date with destiny and Lord Stanley's Cup.