Stars, Hawks take season to last day

Sunday, 04.10.2011 / 11:39 AM / Countdown to the Playoffs

By David Kalan - Staff Writer

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Stars, Hawks take season to last day
On the season's last day, Chicago and Dallas are battling for the final playoff berth in the West, which could alter the entire set of first-round matchups.
As the 2010-11 season reaches its final day, only one playoff berth is undecided, but while the Eastern Conference is set in stone, the wild race in the West still has five teams unsure of where they'll be playing come Wednesday or, in two cases, if they'll even be playing at all. One last time, Down the Stretch gives you the full rundown of the action.

Here is the installment for Sunday, April 10:

DETROIT RED WINGS (46-25-10, 102 points) at CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (44-28-9, 97 points)

Where they stand: The Red Wings are third in the Western Conference; the Blackhawks are eighth in the West. (12:30 ET, NBC, TSN)

What's at stake: Detroit is locked into the No. 3 seed in the West, but it doesn't get much bigger for Chicago. The defending Champs can seal up the last remaining playoff berth with one point -- meaning all the Hawks need is a regulation tie to punch their ticket. In addition, one additional point would lift Chicago out of the eighth spot and a first-round matchup with Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver. A regulation win would bring the Hawks as high as fifth, earning them a first-round date with Anaheim. If Chicago loses in regulation, it will need help from Minnesota to stay in the playoff field.

How it's going: The Hawks beat the Wings 4-2 Friday night in Detroit in the first half of a home-and-home. The win was huge for Chicago for obvious reasons, but it was also the Blackhawks' first regulation victory since March 23. For the Wings, it was their seventh loss in the past 10 games.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (48-25-8, 104 points) at ATLANTA THRASHERS (34-35-12, 80 points)

Where they stand: The Penguins are fourth in the East; the Thrashers are 11th in the East.

What's at stake: Pittsburgh is already assured of a first-round matchup with Tampa Bay, a series in which the Pens will have the home-ice advantage. Sunday's regular-season finale will serve as a tune-up against the Thrashers, who are seeking to end a campaign, which was undone by a rough second half, on a positive note.

How it's going: A 4-3 shootout win against the Islanders Friday gave Pittsburgh its third consecutive victory and seventh in the past nine games. Atlanta is coming off a 6-1 loss to Carolina. The Thrashers have won just two of their past six games.

BOSTON BRUINS (46-24-11, 103 points) at NEW JERSEY DEVILS (37-39-5, 79 points)

Where they stand: The Bruins are third in the Eastern Conference; the Devils are 12th in the East.

What's at stake: The B's are set to face off with Montreal in what will be a highly anticipated first-round series. Boston will surely look to establish good habits ahead of the showdown when they end the regular season against New Jersey, which is getting ready for its first early spring in 15 years.

How it's going: The Bruins have won three of their past four games. New Jersey, which had an impressive second-half run, has fallen off the mark considerably. The Devils' 5-2 loss to New York Saturday was their sixth loss in the past nine games.

DALLAS STARS (42-28-11, 95 points) at MINNESOTA WILD (38-35-8, 84 points)

Where they stand: The Stars are ninth in the West; the Wild are 12th in the West.

What's at stake: If Chicago loses in regulation early in the day, the Stars will be in control of their own fate in the final game of the NHL's 2010-11 regular season. With a non-shootout win, Dallas would overtake the Blackhawks for the eighth playoff berth in the West by virtue of having accrued more points in the four meetings between the Stars and Blackhawks this season. There will be quite a bit of scoreboard watching in the visiting clubhouse at the Xcel Energy Center, however. If Chicago gets a point against Detroit, Dallas will be done before it even takes the ice.

How it's going: Even if the Stars are unable to crack the top eight, their late run at a playoff berth is impressive. Dallas has won its last four games -- all in regulation.

Quote of the Day

It was a big dream. [Messi] is probably the best athlete out there, so it's a big honor, for [Kuznetzov] as well. It's maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the best player in soccer right now. I'm a big Barcelona fan and Messi fan, so it's huge. You can take [Michael] Jordan, [Mark] Messier, [Wayne] Gretzky, those kinds of [people]. It's an honor to meet. It's nice to be in that position.

— Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin told told Monumental Network after meeting soccer star Lionel Messi prior to Argentina's practice at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. on Friday
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