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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Playoff watch: Two points big for Stars

By Mark Stepneski

Those were two big points for the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. They stayed in first place in the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference.

But things are still incredibly tight. The Stars lead in the division is just one point and their lead over ninth place is one point. Everybody chasing the Stars in the division and in the conference race picked up points, except for the San Jose Sharks. So, there is still a lot of work to do.

The Kings beat the Sharks 5-2 in Los Angeles Tuesday. The Kings, who have won five in a row, moved into second in the division and into eighth place in the West. Los Angeles and Phoenix are tied at 84 points, one behind the Stars, but the Kings have played one fewer game than the Coyotes and they get the higher ranking because of a better points percentage.

The Sharks, who were trending up a couple days ago, have dropped two straight and are now three points out of the Pacific Division lead and tenth in the West, two points out of a playoff spot.

Colorado beat Calgary 2-1 in overtime Tuesday night. The Avalanche are at 85 points, the same amount as the Stars, but they have played two more games.

The Avalanche are 5-0-1 in their last six and 7-1-1 in their last nine. Four of Colorado’s last five wins have come in either the shootout or overtime.

The Flames are winless in three games, but they have points in two of those games, so that’s helped them hang around things. They are in eleventh place, two points out of a playoff spot.

Chicago won again Tuesday night, routing Columbus 5-1. The Blackhawks, who have won four straight and have points in six straight (5-0-1) are now challenging Nashville and Detroit for that fourth seed, which brings home ice in the first round.

The Blackhawks play Vancouver tonight with a chance to Detroit and Nashville at 92 points.