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Thursday, February 23, 2012
Playoff watch: Stars within striking distance

By Mark Stepneski

Thursday is an opportunity for the Stars to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff race. If they win and Calgary loses against Phoenix, they’ll be in eighth place. If they win and Calgary wins, then they’ll be within one point of that final spot.

Of course, they have to win against a Chicago team that seems to have gotten its act together after going through a nine-game winless streak. The Blackhawks have won four in a row.

Tonight’s an opportunity for the Flames and Coyotes as well. The Flames have a shot to move back into the top eight. The Coyotes can put more distance between themselves and eighth place and keep the pressure on the Sharks, whom they are chasing for the Pacific Division lead and the third overall seed.

The game of the night in the West has to Vancouver at Detroit. The Red Wings and Canucks are battling for the top spot in the West and Detroit’s 23-game home winning streak is on the line.

St. Louis plays at Nashville tonight. The Predators are trying to hunt down the Blues for fourth overall in the West and home ice in the first round.

Last night, Colorado defeated Los Angeles 4-1 in Denver. The Kings, who blew a 3-0 lead against Phoenix Tuesday night and lost in a shootout, are slumping. They are 0-3-1 in their last four and 2-6-2 over their last ten.