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Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Playoff watch: Another night of key games

By Mark Stepneski

How tight is the Western Conference playoff race? It’s so tight that the Stars could be anywhere from third place to ninth after tonight’s games.

All the teams the Stars are battling are in action tonight, except for Phoenix.

The Stars, of course, are at Edmonton. The Oilers have been playing well lately. They are coming off a 3-0-1 road trip and have points and are 5-0-2 in their last seven games overall. They are relatively healthy, except for no Taylor Hall, who is going to have season-ending shoulder surgery.

Pacific Division-leading San Jose is at Anaheim. The Ducks haven’t been kind to the Sharks this season, winning four of the first five meetings. The Sharks are coming off a 3-0-0 homestand and are 5-2-0 in their last seven games.

On a side note, after tonight the Sharks' final five games look like this: at Phoenix;  vs. Dallas; at Dallas; at Los Angeles; vs. Los Angeles.  Five head-to-head games against teams they are battling for that Pacific Division title and a spot in the playoffs.

The Kings, who are two points behind San Jose and point behind the Stars and Coyotes, continue their four-game road trip with a stop in Calgary tonight. The Kings, who have lost two straight, are 1-1-1 against Calgary this season.  The Flames are one point behind Los Angeles and two points out of a playoff spot. It’s a huge game for both teams.

Colorado, winless in its last three, plays at Vancouver. The Avalanche have just four games left and they have little margin for error. They need a win tonight.