NHL officials approved a radical realignment plan Monday that will give the league four conferences instead of six divisions and guarantee home-and-home series among all teams.
The Board of Governors authorized commissioner Gary Bettman to implement the proposal pending input with the NHL Players’ Association. It could be put in place as soon as next year.
The new look has two conferences with seven teams all based in the Eastern time zone: New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders, Washington and Carolina in one and Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay in the other.
The third conference consists of eight teams in the Eastern and Central time zones: Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg. The fourth conference has eight teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones: Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Colorado.
Teams will play home-and-home series against all nonconference teams and five or six games in their conference. The top four teams in each conference will make the playoffs, with the first two rounds consisting of solely intraconference matchups.
BOSTON 3, PENGUINS 1
In Pittsburgh, Gregory Campbell, Benoit Pouliot and Tyler Seguin scored as Boston kept rolling.
The Bruins improved to 14-0-1 in their past 15 games.
MAPLE LEAFS 4, RANGERS 2
In New York, Phil Kessel had two assists as Toronto snapped New York’s five-game winning streak.
PANTHERS 5, CAPITALS 4
In Sunrise, Fla., Stephen Weiss scored two goals to lead Florida.
SENATORS 4, LIGHTNING 2
In Ottawa, Nick Foligno scored 15:33 into the third period, Zack Smith added two goals, and Ottawa extended Tampa Bay’s losing streak to four games.