<
>

Playoff watch: Race for last spot tightens

The Stars moved into eighth place with their win in Chicago on Thursday night, but the race for that final spot remains incredibly tight. Just four points separate the teams ranked eighth through 13th.

Four of those teams were in action last night, and they all picked up points. The Stars, Wild and Ducks each got two and the Flames picked up one. Minnesota and Anaheim picked up ground, with both moving two points closer to the final spot.

Friday's game between the Stars and Wild is big for both. The Stars can keep the pressure on the rest of the pack with a win. The Wild, who have won two in a row (vs. Boston, at Florida), are three points out of that final spot with a game in hand and can gain ground in the race.

Something has to give in this game. The Stars are 0-9-2 in the second games of back-to-backs this season and the Wild haven't won in Dallas since 2003.

Colorado, which is two points out of eighth, plays at Columbus tonight.

Phoenix isn't showing any signs of slowing down right now. After overcoming a 3-0 deficit to beat the Kings on Tuesday, they overcame a 2-0 deficit and beat the Flames in a shootout last night. The Coyotes are 9-0-1 over their last 10 games and now have a five-point lead over that eighth spot. Phoenix has gone 9-1-1 since the All-Star break and has gained eight points in the standings. That shows what a great run can do for you.

Vancouver ended Detroit's home winning streak at 23 last night, beating the Red Wings in a shootout. St. Louis beat Nashville in a shootout to increase its lead to four points in the race for the fourth seed and home ice in the first round.

Western Conference Playoff Race

The Western Conference playoff race through February 23. ROW = Regulation/Overtime wins. DIFF = goal differential.