Mar 9, 2012, 12:58 AM EST
A surreal week got that much better for the Dallas Stars, whose fortunes look far brighter after a promising night of hockey for them – and the opposite for their divisional opponents.
Most directly, the Stars won against the San Jose Sharks for the first time this season by prevailing 4-3 via the shootout. It wasn’t easy and there were silver lining moments for San Jose, but the bottom line is that Dallas is strongly entrenched as the division leader.
(The Sharks’ pluses: they generated a charity point, Joe Thornton had three assists, Joe Pavelski scored a goal and Patrick Marleau responded to his pal Jeremy Roenick’s criticisms by finding the net.)
The Stars can delight in the fact that the other Pacific Division squads either stayed idle or took a step back too.
Following in the footsteps of the Phoenix Coyotes, the Los Angeles Kings dropped a regulation game to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s probably not melodramatic to say that the Kings may very well remember that loss with significant regret.
Speaking of the Coyotes, Dave Tippett’s team dropped another should-be-victory; this time, it was against the Minnesota Wild. The only bright side is that they salvaged a point, losing 3-2 in a shootout.
Least importantly, the Anaheim Ducks also lost in regulation as the St. Louis Blues prevailed 3-1.
Want a view of the division now that the night is over? Check out the standings, with the teams’ current Western spots in parenthesis.
Dallas (3): 79 points with 14 games remaining
Phoenix (7): 76 points with 14 GR
San Jose (8): 75 points with 16 GR
Los Angeles (9): 74 points with 15 GR
Anaheim (12): 68 points with 14 GR
As you can see, just about every Pacific team seems to have a shot at the division title or at least a playoff spot, with the likely exception of the Ducks. The Stars have certainly distanced themselves with tonight’s action, but it’s still likely to be a photo finish – and a thriller in that.
- Roberto Luongo records the shutout in first game back with Panthers 0
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack 19
- Canucks’ Kassian gets three games for boarding Dillon 19
- TGIF: Why Lightning fans can be upset with St. Louis 27
- Goalie nods: Luongo’s first game back with Panthers, Neuvirth makes Sabres debut 10
- Report: Kuznetsov terminated KHL deal, headed to Washington 20
- Canucks’ Bieksa: ‘If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is’ 34
- Luongo has Twitter fun at Canucks’ expense 36
- Sabres spoil Callahan’s Lightning debut, Stamkos’ return 7
- Dealing with the Devils: NHL reverses Kovalchuk punishment 47
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Report: Canucks want center, top prospect and first-rounder for Kesler (68)
- Sabres announce Pat LaFontaine resigns as president of hockey operations (66)