In clinching the first division title in franchise history on Saturday night, the Florida Panthers closed the book on the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Panthers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, securing the Southeast Division crown and the No. 3 postseason seed. They will meet the No. 6 New Jersey Devils in Round 1.

The New York Rangers, who reserved the East top seed on Tuesday, will meet the No. 8 Ottawa Senators, who drifted down to the last seed after losing three in a row to close the year.

The other two East series feature the No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins meeting the No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers, and the No. 2 Boston Bruins, the defending Stanley Cup champions, taking on the No. 7 Washington Capitals.

Senators.

The NHL will announce the first-round schedule on Sunday.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)