Playoff watch: Teams move closer to Stars

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
1:07
AM CT
The Dallas Stars’ lead over the teams chasing them in the standings got smaller Saturday night. Their lead in the Pacific Division is now one point and so is their lead over the ninth place spot in the Western Conference.

Sportsclubstats.com, which had the Stars chances of making the playoffs at 90 percent after they beat Minnesota on Tuesday, had their chances at 64 percent after Saturday’s games. The Stars' chances of winning the Pacific Division sit at 25 percent, according to that site. A couple of losses and other teams racking up some wins will do that.

San Jose pulled to within one point of the Stars in the divisional race with a 3-2 overtime win over Detroit. Martin Havlat, in his second game back after missing 39 contests with a torn hamstring, scored two goals, including the game-winner in OT. The Sharks, who are 3-0-1 in their last four, have a game in hand on the Stars and can take over first in the Pacific with a win against Anaheim on Monday.

Los Angeles made it four straight wins with a 4-2 victory over Nashville. Dustin Penner, Dwight King and Kyle Clifford scored third period goals for Los Angeles. The Kings also moved to within one point of the Stars in the Pacific Division, and they have played the same number of games. Right now, the Kings are the ninth place team in the West.

Colorado made it four straight wins with a 3-1 win on the road against the New York Rangers. Seymon Varlamov made 41 saves for Colorado, which went 2-0-1 in road games against Buffalo, New Jersey and the Rangers. The Avalanche, who are 6-1-1 in their last eight games, have tied the Stars at 83 points, but have played two more games.

There are a couple of key games to watch on Sunday. Phoenix, which has slipped to tenth place and is two points behind the Stars, plays at Edmonton. A win would move the Coyotes back into a playoff spot.

Calgary, currently in eleventh place and three points behind the Stars, hosts Columbus.

Mark Stepneski

ESPNDallas.com
Mark Stepneski joined ESPNDallas.com in July 2010. A former news/special projects producer for KXAS-TV, he has run the Andrew's Dallas Stars Page website since 1997.

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