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Playoff Race: March 25

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

What did we learn Thursday night? There are no easy games in the NHL. No matter where teams sit in the standings, it can be tough to win in the NHL. Teams out of the playoff picture don’t roll over this time of the year, especially against top teams.

The Coyotes beat the Stars. The Jets beat the Kings. The Maple Leafs beat the Ducks. The Oilers beat the Sharks. It’s a tough league.

For the Stars, it was a missed opportunity to extend their lead in the Central Division. Their lead over second-place St. Louis remains at two points. The Blues host Vancouver tonight with a chance to tie the Stars at 97 points. It’s no given for the Blues. They lost to both Edmonton and Calgary on the road last week. The Canucks played last night in Nashville but are 5-3-2 in the second night of back-to-backs.

Even if the Blues win, the Stars would still hold first place in the Central Division based on the regulation wins (ROW) tiebreaker, which they lead 42-38.

Chicago remains six points behind the Stars. The Blackhawks are idle Friday. They have a back-to-back on the road at Calgary (Saturday) and Vancouver (Sunday).

Nashville pulled to within two points of Chicago for third place in the Central, rallying to beat Vancouver, 3-2, in a shootout last night. Nashville was down 2-0 after two periods, but scored twice in a 1:12 span of the third to tie and get the game to extra playing time. The Predators are 13-2-5 in their past 20 games.

Minnesota extended its lead to three points over Colorado in the race for the second wild-card spot in the West. The Wild blew by the Flames, 6-2, in St. Paul for their fourth straight win. Colorado, meanwhile, had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia in Denver. The Wild and Avalanche play Saturday in Denver. That’s a big game.

It wasn’t a good night for the big three in the Pacific Division. The Kings wrapped up a 0-3-0 road trip with a 4-1 loss at Winnipeg. Los Angeles remains four points behind the Stars for the best record in the West.

The Ducks lost in a wild 6-5 shootout at Toronto. Anaheim rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take a 5-4 lead, gave up the game-tying goal with less than five minutes left and then lost in the skills competition. The Ducks did clinch a playoff spot with the one point and moved to within three points of the Kings.

The Sharks, who are the Stars’ next opponent, had a chance to move to within three points of the Kings and tie the Ducks, but they lost, 6-3, to Edmonton in San Jose. So, they are still five points behind Los Angeles and two points behind Anaheim.


Arizona 3, Dallas 1

Nashville 3, Vancouver 2 (SO)

Minnesota 6, Calgary 2

Philadelphia 4, Colorado 2

Winnipeg 4, Los Angeles 1

Toronto 6, Anaheim 5 (SO)

Edmonton 6, San Jose 3


Vancouver at St. Louis


Dallas

Los Angeles

Anaheim






CENTRAL DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION WILDCARD IN HUNT
1st
2nd
3rd
1st
2nd
3rd
WC1
WC2
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
MIN
COL
Points
97
95
91
93
90
88
89
83
80
Wins (ROW)
42
38
41
42
37
38
34
33
34
Games Left
7
8
8
8
9
8
8
7
8
Home
4
5
3
5
4
5
5
4
4
Road
3
3
5
3
5
3
3
3
4
                   
 
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
MIN
 COL
Mar. 25
-
VAN
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Mar. 26
@SJS
@WSH
@CGY
EDM
@OTT
DAL
CBJ
@COL
MIN
Mar. 27
-
-
@VAN
-
-
-
-
-
-
Mar. 28
-
-
-
@SJS
@EDM
LAK
COL
-
@NSH
Mar. 29
NSH
COL
@MIN
-
-
@VAN
@DAL
CHI
@STL
Mar. 30
-
-
-
-
CGY
-
-
-
-
Mar. 31
ARI
-
-
CGY
-
VAN
@PIT
OTT
-
Apr. 1
-
BOS
@WPG
-
VAN
-
-
@DET
WSH
Apr. 2
@LAK
-
-
-
-
@NSH
SJS
-
-
Apr. 3
@ANA
@COL
BOS
-
DAL
-
-
@WPG
STL
Apr. 4
-
ARI
-
@VAN
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 5
-
-
ARI
@CGY
WPG
@MIN
COL
SJS
@NSH
Apr. 6
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 7
COL
@CHI
STL
ANA
@LAK
WPG
ARI
-
@DAL
Apr. 8
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 9
NSH
WSH
@CBJ
WPG
@COL
ARI
@DAL
CGY
ANA
Apr. 10
-
-
-
-
@WSH
-
-
-
-
 
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
MIN
COL

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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