The margin for error in the Western Conference lessened again on Monday.
The Dallas Stars moved to within one point of the Phoenix Coyotes for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference after hanging on to defeat the Winnipeg Jets by a final score of 2-1.
The Coyotes earned a single point in a overtime loss to the New York Rangers – goalie Mike Smith left the game late with a lower-body injury and was still being evaluated afterward – so they remain just barely ahead of the Stars, who have one game in hand.
“We all look up to see the out-of-town scores,” Stars’ veteran forward Ray Whitney told the Dallas Morning News. “Everybody these last three weeks will be doing that. We’re certainly watching what the other teams are doing.”
Even the Vancouver Canucks, with their struggles since the start of January and injury problems – the latest being Henrik Sedin – are still only four points back of Phoenix. Both the Coyotes and Stars have games in hand on Vancouver.
Both the Stars and Coyotes are in action on Tuesday. The Coyotes are on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Stars are in Chicago to play the Blackhawks.
Below is a short video refresher on the NHL’s playoff format this season.
This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.
Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.
While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.
There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.
Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.
Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:
It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.