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Friday, March 30, 2012
Playoff watch: Sharks drop to ninth after loss

By Mark Stepneski

The San Jose Sharks started play on Wednesday as the third seed in the West. Just 24 hours later they were sitting on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. A 2-0 loss at Phoenix on Thursday night knocked the Sharks out of the top eight and moved the Coyotes back into a playoff spot.

Phoenix is now tied with the Stars at 89 points, but the Stars have the third seed because they have played one fewer game. Even if the games and points were the same, the Stars would still hold the third seed because they own the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker.

The Stars have a big chance to enhance their chances Friday night in Vancouver. Get a win and they go two points up one Phoenix and three up on San Jose with four games to go. They'd stay at least one ahead of the Kings, who play at Edmonton. Don't get any points out of that Canucks game and then, well, there isn't much breathing room.

The Kings, as I mentioned, play at Edmonton on Friday.

The other big game in the West is Detroit at Nashville. Those two teams are in a fight for the fourth seed and home ice in the first round. Detroit has a one point lead over the Predators.

Here's a look at what at the race in the Pacific Division, including each teams' remaining schedule. After that, the Western Conference standings.