The Phoenix Coyotes’ grasp on the Western Conference’s final wild card spot didn’t last very long as the Dallas Stars took the lead back with an impressive 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
The Stars opened things up with a 3-0 lead in the first period, as Jamie Benn was involved in all three opening goals (two goals, one assist) while Tyler Seguin collected one goal and one assist. The Lightning made things a little tense in the second period by bringing the deficit down to 3-2, but Dallas pulled away in the final frame.
The Stars managed to shake off Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, continuing what’s generally been a hot streak since March 22. In that time, they’ve won six of their last eight games. They’ve been successful so far in their current five-game road trip, too, winning three of four before tomorrow’s game in Florida wraps that up.
Dallas can really distance itself during a three-game homestand before they face the Coyotes in Phoenix in a game that could very well decide a playoff spot.
A chance to pull away
The Stars are in a position to pull away altogether if they can stay on task.
Dallas now has 87 points on the season with five games left while Phoenix is seated at 86 standings points with four games remaining. That advantage is even greater since Dallas has some obvious tiebreaker advantages at the moment, including wins (38-36) and regulation/overtime wins (35-30).
In other words, the Stars are currently in control of things, but this battle for the West’s final spot has seen some dramatic swings both ways. Few would be surprised if there are a few more twists and turns, whether April 13’s closing game decides it all or not.
With training camp and the preseason now in full swing, it appears the Bruins are bringing in a veteran blue liner — at least on a professional tryout.
On Friday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that unrestricted free agent blue liner Christian Ehrhoff is about to join Boston on a PTO following his showing at the World Cup of Hockey.
In six games with Team Europe, Ehrhoff had three assists — all at even strength — and nine shots on goal.
Ehrhoff is now 34 years old, and the Bruins already have a pair of seasoned defenders in Zdeno Chara (39 years old) and John-Michael Liles (35 years old) on their roster. Adam McQuaid turns 30 years old in October.
He was most productive during two seasons in Vancouver, a puck-moving defenseman that could effectively skate the puck out of trouble and move the attack that way if need be. But that was from 2009 to 2011. His production has dipped, especially over the last three years.
He was also pivotal to Vancouver’s power play, especially in 2011 when the Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy and made it to the Stanley Cup Final — against Boston.
Again, that was five years ago.
Lehner (forearm contusion) to miss preseason game versus Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.
“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.
“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”
(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)
Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.
The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.
McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious
It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.
The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.