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Playoff Race: March 18

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

After a few days of no movement at the top of the Central Division race, the Stars created some separation with their 4-3 win over Tampa Bay Thursday night. The Stars moved two points ahead of St. Louis and five points ahead of Chicago in the race for the top spot in the division. The Stars and Blues have ten games remaining, and the Blackhawks have eleven. Still a long way to go.

The Blackhawks will have a chance to gain some ground tonight when they play at Winnipeg. The Blackhawks have lost four straight (0-3-1) and are 3-6-1 in their past ten games.

There has been movement lower in the Central Division race, and that’s been Nashville. The Predators won again last night, defeating the New York Islanders, 4-2. The Predators, who currently hold the first wild-card spot in the West, are 9-1-2 in their past 12 games and are only three points behind Chicago for third place in the Central Division. Nashville plays at Washington tonight, so that’s a game worth keeping an eye on as the Predators try to climb the Central Division ladder and perhaps push someone above them in the division into a wild-card spot.

Minnesota lost to New Jersey, 7-4, and missed out on a chance to move back into the second wild-card spot in the West. The Wild remain one point behind Colorado, which holds that final playoff spot.

With Minnesota’s loss and Dallas’ win last night, the Stars magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to five points. It could be as low as four points with the Stars’ current advantage in the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker.

The Kings rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the New York Rangers, 4-3, in overtime last night. The Kings pulled six points ahead of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division. At 91 points, the Kings are two points behind the Stars for the best record in the Western Conference. The top spot in the West isn’t just about the possibility of home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, but it will help determine playoff matchups as well.

If the playoffs started today, the Stars (division winner with most points) would get Colorado (wild-card team with fewer points). Los Angeles (the other division winner) would take on Nashville (wild-card team with more points).

San Jose had a chance to take over second place in the Pacific, but lost to Arizona last night. The Sharks remain one point behind Anaheim and seven points behind the first-place Kings. Arizona is seven points out of the final playoff spot in the West but would have to climb over two teams to get there. Sportsclubstats.com has the Coyotes’ chances of making the playoffs at 1.6 percent.

The Ducks have cooled off a bit, losing four of their past five games (1-3-1) since their 11-game winning streak. They host Boston tonight with a chance to pull further ahead of San Jose and gain some ground on the Kings.


Dallas 4, Tampa Bay 3

Nashville 4, New York Islanders 2

New Jersey 7, Minnesota 4

Los Angeles 4, New York Rangers 3 (OT)

Arizona 3, San Jose 1


Chicago at Winnipeg

Nashville at Washington

Colorado at Calgary

Boston at Anaheim







CENTRAL DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION WILDCARD IN HUNT
1st
2nd
3rd
1st
2nd
3rd
WC1
WC2
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
COL
MIN
Points
93
91
88
91
85
84
85
76
75
Wins (ROW)
40
36
40
41
35
36
33
33
31
Games Left
10
10
11
12
13
12
11
11
11
Home
5
5
5
6
5
9
7
5
7
Road
5
5
6
6
8
3
4
6
4
                   
 
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
COL
 MIN
Mar. 18
-
-
@WPG
-
BOS
-
@WSH
@CGY
-
Mar. 19
NYI
@VAN
-
BOS
-
NYR
-
-
CAR
Mar. 20
-
-
MIN
-
@WPG
ARI
-
@EDM
@CHI
Mar. 21
-
-
-
@NSH
-
-
LAK
-
-
Mar. 22
@CHI
@SJS
DAL
@MIN
@MTL
STL
-
-
LAK
Mar. 23
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Mar. 24
@ARI
-
-
@WPG
@TOR
EDM
VAN
PHI
CGY
Mar. 25
-
VAN
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Mar. 26
@SJS
@WSH
@CGY
EDM
@OTT
DAL
CBJ
MIN
@COL
Mar. 27
-
-
@VAN
-
-
-
-
-
-
Mar. 28
-
-
-
@SJS
@EDM
LAK
COL
@NSH
-
Mar. 29
NSH
COL
@MIN
-
-
@VAN
@DAL
@STL
CHI
Mar. 30
-
-
-
-
CGY
-
-
-
-
Mar. 31
ARI
-
-
CGY
-
VAN
@PIT
-
OTT
Apr. 1
-
BOS
@WPG
-
VAN
-
-
WSH
@DET
Apr. 2
@LAK
-
-
-
-
@NSH
SJS
-
-
Apr. 3
@ANA
@COL
BOS
-
DAL
-
-
STL
@WPG
Apr. 4
-
ARI
-
@VAN
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 5
-
-
ARI
@CGY
WPG
@MIN
COL
@NSH
SJS
Apr. 6
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 7
COL
@CHI
STL
ANA
@LAK
WPG
ARI
@DAL
-
Apr. 8
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 9
NSH
WSH
@CBJ
WPG
@COL
ARI
@DAL
ANA
CGY
Apr. 10
-
-
-
-
@WSH
-
-
-
-
 
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
COL
MIN

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter 
@StarsInsideEdge.

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