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Playoff Race: Stars clinch playoff spot, but Blues stay close in division race

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

It was a given the Dallas Stars were going to clinch a playoff spot; it was just a matter of when it would become official. Tuesday night it became official when the Stars blew out Chicago, 6-2, at United Center. So, the Stars are headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in three years.

Now, it’s a battle for playoff positioning. First place in the Central Division is still up for grabs. St. Louis won 1-0 at San Jose last night, so the Blues are still within two points of the Stars with eight games remaining for both teams.

The Stars have a solid edge in the first tiebreaker – which is regulation/overtime wins (ROW) – 42-38. If that edge in ROW holds, the Blues would have to surpass the Stars in points to win the division; a tie would not get the job done. Hockeyreference.com’s Playoff Probabilities Report gives the Stars a 73.5 percent chance of winning the division.

With their win last night, the Stars pushed the Blackhawks to six points out of first place. That’s a lot of ground for Chicago to make up in a short amount of time. Not impossible, but the odds aren’t in the Blackhawks favor. Hockeyreference.com’s Playoff Probabilities Report gives the Blackhawks a 2.9 percent chance of winning the division. The Blackhawks also fell to four points behind St. Louis for second place. Nashville is in Chicago’s rearview mirror as well, just four points behind with a game in hand.

The Stars also extended their lead over Los Angeles in the race for the best record among the division leaders to four points. The Kings lost 2-1 at Minnesota Tuesday night. That race is key because it will determine playoff matchups.

If the playoffs started today, the Stars would open against Minnesota, which moved into the second wild-card spot with its win over the Kings. Los Angeles would start against Nashville, which holds the first wild-card spot.

Both Anaheim and San Jose lost last night, so nothing changed in the battle for second in the Pacific, and neither team was able to gain any ground on the Kings. The Ducks remain one point ahead of the Sharks and four points behind the Kings. The Sharks are five points behind Los Angeles.

Nothing will change in the Western Conference playoff picture tonight. There are no key games.


Dallas 6, Chicago 2

St. Louis 1, San Jose 0

Minnesota 2, Los Angeles 1

Montreal 4, Anaheim 3


None






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
89
88
87
81
80
Wins (ROW)
42
38
41
42
37
38
34
32
34
Games Left 8
8
8
9
10
9
9
8
9
Home
4
5
3
5
4
6
6
5
5
Road
4
3
5
4
6
3
3
3
4
                   
 
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
MIN
 COL
Mar. 23
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Mar. 24
@ARI
-
-
@WPG
@TOR
EDM
VAN
CGY
PHI
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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