The Dallas Stars go into the Olympic break holding on to the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, according to NHL.com. That comes courtesy a 2-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.
The Coyotes entered the game as the No. 2 Wild Card team, but relinquished that by the final buzzer. The Stars and Coyotes have identical records of 27-21-10 and are tied in points with 64. But the Stars have one more regulation-overtime win (ROW) than the Coyotes, to jump into what would be the final playoff spot in the conference if the post-season was to start tomorrow.
The race for the Wild Card in the West is now taking shape for the stretch drive, which will begin when the NHL schedule resumes on Feb. 25.
The Minnesota Wild seem comfortably ahead in the first Wild Card spot, with 69 points. Behind them, it’s the Stars and Coyotes at 64 points; the struggling Vancouver Canucks – they lost again tonight – at 63 points; Winnipeg Jets at 62 points and even the Nashville Predators are still hanging around at 60 points.
Tonight, there’s a big Metropolitan Division showdown at Consol as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Rangers. You can catch the game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET), or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:
Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’
‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds
Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week
Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley seems pretty chill about healthy-scratching Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Lance Bouma. That goes for Monahan and Gaudreau in particular, noting that they’re “great kids.”
Besides … it’s not like they robbed a bank. (NHL.com)
Uh oh, did Nazem Kadri make the throat-slashing gesture to Mark Giordano? See for yourself in the video above. (Puck Daddy)
What should the New York Islanders do with unrestricted free agent Kyle Okposo, who’s enjoying a productive contract year? (The Hockey News)
What a playoff berth would mean to the Florida Panthers. (Sportsnet)
Checking in with various teams as the trade deadline looms. (NHL Numbers)
On the Canucks using those Pavel Bure-era jerseys. (Greatest Hockey Legends)
The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.
Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.
(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)
Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.
Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.
As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.
The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.
You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.
Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.
Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.
This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.