The Panthers, set to return to the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons, smothered the
Marcel Goc, John Madden and Stephen Weiss sparked Florida to a 3-0 lead and Mikael Samuelsson added an empty netter late in the third. Joni Pitkanen scored for Carolina.
Scott Clemmensen made 34 saves for the Panthers, who finished two points ahead of Washington in second.
"Pretty awesome," Weiss, wearing a championship cap and T-shirt, told said. "It's a surreal feeling. It hasn't been easy all year, and it wasn't easy tonight."
The third-seeded Panthers will face sixth-seeded New Jersey in the Eastern Conference quarter-finals.
Taylor Pyatt scored twice for Phoenix, who took third place in the Western Conference and will face the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs next week.
"This feels good," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Winning your division is one thing, but the key to winning your division is you get home ice in the first round."
The Coyotes have gone 20-6-5 since February 1.
"There was some times when it could have turned the other way, and our guys grabbed it and kept pushing along," said Tippett.
The Southeast crown went down to the wire after
Nicklas Backstrom put the Capitals up 4-0 in the second after goals by Alex Ovechkin, Mathieu Perreault and John Carlson in the opening period.
Braden Holtby had a strong showing in net for the Capitals, making 35 saves with starting netminder Michal Neuvirth and primary back-up Tomas Vokoun injured.
Western Conference champions
The Canucks finished with 111 points. The Eastern champ Rangers and St. Louis had 109.
Malkin finished the regular season with 109 points. Sydney Crosby also had a goal and assist for Pittsburgh.
Defending Stanley Cup champions
In the Western Conference, Patrick Kane's shootout goal helped
Dan Boyle's overtime goal, his second of the game, gave