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Stars' jump to sixth by rallying to beat Sharks

Sunday, 03.06.2011 / 1:56 AM / Countdown to the Playoffs

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Stars' jump to sixth by rallying to beat Sharks
Dallas went from eighth to sixth in the West by rallying for a 3-2 victory at San Jose on Saturday, ending the Sharks' eight-game winning streak.
The Dallas Stars didn't let the point that got away the night before keep them from getting two points on Saturday.
 
Dallas blew a two-goal lead in the third period and lost to Anaheim in OT on Friday night – though the one point the Stars got did move them back into eighth place. They moved on to San Jose on Saturday and rallied for a pair of third-period goals and a 3-2 win that bumped them up to sixth place, jumping past Calgary and Los Angeles.
 
No positions changed in the East on Saturday, but the Buffalo Sabres got within a point of the top eight by winning 5-3 at Philadelphia. The Sabres have multiple games in hand on both of the teams ahead of them – the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes.

Here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Saturday night's games:

Eastern Conference

Division leaders

Philadelphia (86 points after Saturday’s 5-3 home loss to Buffalo) has dropped three in a row for the first time since mid-October. Maybe it’s because they look like a lock for the playoffs, but the Flyers haven’t matched the intensity of their last two desperate opponents – Toronto on Thursday and the Sabres on Saturday. They play another desperate team Sunday when they visit the Rangers at Madison Square Garden (NBC, 12:30 p.m. ET).

Boston (84 points after Saturday’s 3-2 home OT loss to Pittsburgh) saw its winning streak end at seven games, though they Bruins did get a point when David Krejci scored with 33 seconds left in regulation to force OT. They still lead the Northeast Division by five points and moved within two of Philadelphia for first place in the conference.

Tampa Bay (81 points after Saturday's 4-2 home loss to Montreal) has hit the skids. The Bolts have dropped games to New Jersey, Boston and the Canadiens in a four-night span, and they could be in second place in the Southeast Division when Washington comes to the St. Pete Times Forum on Monday if the Caps win Sunday in Florida.

The next five:

Pittsburgh (84 points after Saturday's 3-2 overtime win at Boston) continues to amaze by winning despite injuries that would have decimated lesser teams. The Pens allowed the Bruins to tie the game in the final minute and get a point by forcing overtime, but a brilliant unassisted goal by Dustin Jeffrey gave Pittsburgh the win by scoring 1:52 into OT, moving the Penguins within two points of first-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division.

Washington (80 points) had a second consecutive day off. The Caps visit Florida on Sunday – but will have to avoid looking ahead to Monday's showdown with Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay.

Montreal (79 points after Saturday's 4-2 win at Tampa Bay) might want to play more games in the state of Florida. Not only do the Canadiens attract thousands of their own fans, they play pretty well too. Saturday’s win at Tampa Bay gave the Canadiens a 3-1-0 record in Florida this season. The Habs have put some space between themselves and the teams battling for the last two spots in the East.

New York Rangers (72 points) has to figure out how to win at home. The Rangers are 20-13-1 away from home but just 14-16-3 at Madison Square Garden as the Flyers come to town.

Carolina (71 points) doesn't play until Wednesday – meaning that all the 'Canes can do is sit and hope for help.

On the outside looking in:

Buffalo (70 points after Saturday's 5-3 win at Philadelphia) got closer to the top eight by rallying from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Flyers. Jason Pominville's goal early in the third period broke a 3-3 tie, and Ryan Miller made 13 of his 33 saves in the third period. The Sabres could find themselves in seventh place if they can win Sunday at Minnesota.

Toronto (67 points after Saturday’s 5-3 home loss to Chicago) saw its 6-0-3 unbeaten streak in regulation shattered by the visiting Hawks, who completely dominated the game. Chicago led 3-0 after one period, and the Leafs never got closer than two goals. It was a game the Leafs could ill afford to lose.

Atlanta (65 points after Saturday's 4-3 OT home win against Florida) got a win it had to have when captain Andrew Ladd scored in overtime to beat the Panthers. The Thrashers couldn't hold a 3-1 third-period lead, but got its second OT win in a five-game homestand when Ladd scored his second of the night. They’re off until a must game at Carolina on Wednesday.

New Jersey (62 points) has a big chance to make up more ground. Beginning Sunday on Long Island, the Devils' next six games include two each with the Islanders, Ottawa and Atlanta – a trio of non-playoff teams.

Western Conference


Division leaders:

Vancouver (91 points after Saturday's 3-1 win at Los Angeles) played the kind of hockey in the opener of a five-game trip that it showed only sporadically while splitting a six-game homestand. Daniel Sedin’s third-period goal broke a 1-1 tie and Alex Burrows added an empty-netter as Roberto Luongo earned his 300th win.

Detroit (86 points after Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss at Phoenix) had the Coyotes down but couldn't put them away and settled for one point instead of two. Phoenix scored three times in the third period before winning the shootout, sending the Wings home with a three-game losing streak and a 2-1-2 record on their five-game trip.

San Jose (82 points after Saturday’s 3-2 home loss to Dallas) saw its eight-game winning streak end when the Stars rallied for a pair of third-period goals. The Sharks' lead over Phoenix in the Pacific Division was reduced to four points. The good news is that they have a couple of days off followed by three more games at home next week.

The next five:

Chicago (80 points after Saturday's 5-3 win at Toronto) completed an incredible seven-day stretch by mauling the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Beginning last Sunday with a shootout victory against Phoenix, the Hawks won for the fifth time in seven days; in all, they've won eight straight and now trail Detroit by just six points in the Central Division race.

Phoenix (78 points after Saturday's 5-4 home shootout win against Detroit) stole two points by scoring three times in the third period and then winning the shootout. After two periods in which nothing seemed to go right, the Coyotes tied the game with 1:57 left in regulation and won it on Radim Vrbata's goal in the tiebreaker – with some help from the posts that denied Detroit's Jiri Hudler and Todd Bertuzzi.

Dallas (77 points after Saturday's 3-2 win at San Jose) came up with the kind of gutty performance teams need to make the playoffs. One night after seeing a two-goal third-period lead turn into an overtime loss at Anaheim, the Stars rallied with a pair of goals in the final 20 minutes for a win that jumped them into sixth place in the West.

Calgary (77 points) had the night off after Friday's 4-3 win against Columbus – and fell two places in the standings. Nashville comes to Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday evening.

Los Angeles (76 points after Saturday's 3-1 home loss to Vancouver) got an early goal by newcomer Dustin Penner but couldn’t find a way to score again and saw two much-needed points slip away to the Canucks. The Kings dropped from sixth to eighth. L.A. finishes a six-game homestand by hosting Dallas on Monday, then plays four in a row on the road.

On the outside looking in:

Anaheim (75 points) gets to host a Vancouver team that played the day before in L.A. The Ducks have won three in a row, the last two in OT.

Nashville (75 points) spent another day watching other contenders amass points. The Preds go back to work Sunday night in Calgary.

Minnesota (74 points) had a second day off after three games in four nights. The Wild host Buffalo at the Xcel Energy Center on Sunday.

Columbus (69 points) finishes a five-game trip in St. Louis on Monday. The Jackets are looking for their first win after a loss in Nashville and three (one by shootout) in Western Canada.
Quote of the Day

It's a little different but it feels amazing. A new chapter in my life and I'm excited. It's been amazing. Better than I expected. The weather is great, the place is just amazing. I can't say enough good things about it. I'm glad to get the season going.

— Ryan Kesler on his transition to the Anaheim Ducks