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Coyotes take three-point lead over Stars for West’s final wild card spot

Mar 25, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT

From the look of things, the Western Conference’s wild card race won’t be as crowded as the erratic East, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a compelling tug-of-war for the final spot.

The Phoenix Coyotes pulled things in their direction on Tuesday by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 while the Dallas Stars lost 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks. With that, the ‘Yotes now have a three-point lead for that eighth spot out West, although there are a few reasons why that margin is even slimmer than it sounds.

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As you may notice, the Stars have a game in hand, so they could come within two points with a shootout/overtime loss and one point with a win. Most importantly – and most intriguingly – the two teams also will finish off their regular season schedules with a game in Phoenix on April 13.

(If you don’t have a horse in that race, that has to be the situation to root for from a drama standpoint, right?)

The highlight of the Phoenix win was also the game-winning goal, as Mikkel Boedker scored this wicked one:

Andrew Shaw‘s 19th goal of the season didn’t clinch it for Chicago, yet it’s worth watching in its own right:

The Coyotes finish their three-game Metropolitan Division road trip against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Stars host the Nashville Predators before embarking on what could be a make-or-break five-game road trip that begins in St. Louis and then switches to four teams that once played in the now-defunct Southeast Division (Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida).

While the Vancouver Canucks have an outside chance at making this a three-team race, it seems likely that the final spot may come down to a seesaw battle between the Stars and Coyotes. Phoenix won this round, then.

  1. therooneyskilledwebster - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Genius move taking a slashing penalty down 1 with 45 seconds left in the game. Neal is quickly becoming my favorite flightless turd.

  2. penguins87and71 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    The Penguins look like a tired hockey team, the injuries are finally taking their toll, they are starting to fizzle out.

    • comeonnowguys - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      Also, they don’t play Phoenix that often, which is still trying to lead the way back to Dead Puck hockey. They give the teams with skill–especially those unfamiliar with them–fits.

  3. c9castine - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    im telling you guys i could honestly care less about losing games right now.

    did not play a bad hockey game. made a couple mistakes…maatta needs to sit a few. he looks like burnt toast out there right now. neal needs to worry about scoring goals and stop being an asshole. im starting to tihnk asshole is just in his DNA and maybe we need to explore moving him.

    but it was good to see the word the 3rd line did tonight. i thought pyatt played really really well. gibbons continues to show the he is an effective producer at the NHL level. megna is noticeable every time he is on the roster. these guys need to continue to get minutes and guys like vitale and engelland need to sit in favor of that.

    screw it..last few years we have gone into the playoffs rolling. lets try stumbling in (come on, hardly stumbling into the 2nd seed) and see what happens.

    • hockey412 - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      I’m surprised they haven’t given Maatta more of a rest. He’s never played more than what, 60 games per season in the OHL? This year he’s already played over 70 PLUS the Olympics.

      My fear is that Danno plans to use the kids for the bulk of the remaining regular season and then revert back to Engelland for the bulk of the playoffs. With everyone healthy I’d much rather see Despres matched with Niskanen than Engelland.

    • skr213 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      If you “could care less” then that means you do care. I’m guessing you meant the opposite of what you said – that you couldn’t care less. Don’t let hockey become basketball – have some self-respect and learn the English language.

      • c9castine - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:56 PM

        lol. you people make me chuckle sometimes.

  4. pitpenguinsrulez - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    Maatta needs a rest big time. A game or two off will do him justice. Neal and Jokinen really need to stop with the bad/dumb penalties. Jokinens dumb penalty cost us the game essentially eventhough it wasn’t a powerplay goal. Supposedly they held a players only meeting after the game. Don’t how much that’ll help. They have 10 games left and so hopefully they start turning some things around for the better.

    • c9castine - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      yeah but thats way out of character for jokinen. neal on the other hand, this crap is nothing new. at what point does this get dealt with? its hurting the team.

      id scratch him for one. itd be one thing if he is out there working his butt off, but i dont see that. i see a mediocre work level combined with asshattery and a lack of discipline.

  5. blomfeld - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:02 AM

    “If you don’t have a horse in that race” …

    Yeah ? … well I sure as hell have a horse in that race and his name is the ‘indefatigable’ Coyotes of Phoenix ! Yes sir, that ‘experiment in the desert’ as I used to call them is now one of my favorite teams and I know for a fact that these people are ‘in’ … no less than Errol Flynn back in the early 50′s ! The bottom line is that Phoenix and Minnesota are ‘happening’ man, while the Canucks, Jets and Dealey Plaza aren’t … God’s will

    CONGRATS COYOTES ! … YOU’VE MADE IT ‘HOME’ ONCE AND FOR ALL !!! :)

    • einjzmolf - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:08 AM

      Pretty sure Phoenix didn’t clinch tonight and they don’t have their starting goalie right now. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

    • laxman1944 - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      Seriously…….stop eating the magic mushrooms

  6. muckleflugga - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:25 AM

    steady-on there blomfeld

    one of errol flynn’s wives passed on saturday … which surprised the hell out of me because she had to be young enough to be his grand daughter and because i always thought errol was a bit

    of a swashbuckler

    he did like them young

    • blomfeld - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:28 AM

      friend … Flynn was a bit of a ‘swashbuckler’ no doubt, but very cool all the same … anyway, I’m curious to know what your views are about this news of Jagger’s partner killing herself ? … horribly tragic, yet what could have been the motivation ? … hate to say this, but I’ve always suspected that Jagger & Richards were ‘somehow’ culpable in Brian Jone’s death back in ’69 …

      • c9castine - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        save that talk for the bedroom.

  7. muckleflugga - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:30 AM

    well reams have been written on the subject as you know …

    what child of the sixties hasn’t followed these events since … i have boxes of magazines and other material from the day, but can’t bring myself to see stones and other acts in their contemporary form and in performance … it would break the spell

    everyone knows brian jones was having difficulty dealing with mick’s emergence as stones’ front man while realizing the band would only advance and thrive with that being the case …

    jones certainly appeared isolated in stones’ first appearance on ed sullivan … jagger was electric

    i think jones was hooked on the act staying closer to its american blues roots but the synergy found in jagger and richards as they emerged as a writing team separate from jones, served to sublimate jones’ incredibly importance and role in getting it all rolling

    by all reports jones fell into heroin usage among other things, and wad acting out when the band decided to sack him … little in the way of drugs were found in post mortem toxicology so beyond a few beers there was no apparent reason to die in his own pool

    his lover in the day, anna wohlin, has recently emerged claiming brian jones got into it with minder frank thorogood whom brian had fired earlier in the day, and jones died during the exchange … thorogood made the same claim on his own deathbed twenty odd years ago it would seem

    the matter was alleged to have been covered-up by the band for publicity reasons … many perceive a shadow over their souls that on a certain level has enhanced their image since … i just saw and felt a stunning energy and talent

    i believe brian jones was the victim of an unintentional manslaughter and a malfeasance after the fact … do we love the boys any less

    hardly

    as for l’wren scott it’s not my place to speculate on the depth of her tragedy but doubt foul play

    she was a brilliant and strong woman felled by her own hand while wracked with a growing and oppressive debt and a failing business in a world where fame is fleeting and tremulous when times are high

    i hardly think she was less than a telephone call away from help from mick … emotionally and financially … jagger is by all accounts generous to those he loves but perhaps the pride of a single minded spirit prevented yielding to her need

    i cry for l’wren’s family and feel mick’s loss as that part of the world who grew up with stones and beatles and all the others feel his loss …

    one of the hardest things we face as we age is seeing our heroes become old and fade … suffering the same mortal hurts we all bear … bringing us close together until we are all equal again

    they saw the lass off today and i tipped a glass or two … for mick

    it’s all we can really do

    • blomfeld - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Flugga, I never knew about Frank Thorogood ? … thank you, as I’m going to research this further … a truly well written and insightful reply by your good self ! :)

    • laxman1944 - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      “It’s better to burn out…..than fade away”…..

  8. patshal - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    This is crazy. Coyotes will get it.

  9. hockey412 - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    Entertaining game. Phx played a great game, and OEL is an amazing skater to watch. I like the way he operates in the offensive zone – uses his speed to get the rush going and make the offensive zone, but doesn’t go anywhere near as deep as Letang goes…and doesn’t have the issues getting back that Letang does….novel concept.

    Pens are being humbled right now, and that’s the best thing for them. I honestly think they need it. At least to remember what they need to do to win (keep it simple). They are doing a little better, they got some shots off yesterday they were just all nearly blocked (18 blocked shots…I’ll give that + to Phx instead of a – to Pgh). Crosby held to 2 shots…Kunitz, 0 shots…not going to get that done. I thought the second line did fine, aside from dumb penalties. Despres made some bad decisions, but did better avoiding the box. Good to see him and Borts get the playing time.

  10. jpelle82 - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    maatta caused the first goal and almost a second right after that with turnovers. orpik just waved at vermette and let him poke the second one in…pretty weak game from him. boedker cruises in and picks up the garbage for the game winner…brooks orpik just standing there couldnt clear the rebound. pretty pathetic effort from the defense all around. then you compound it with 5 pp chances given up…2 of which led to goals either during or immediately after. tough to come back when your killing penalties the whole 3rd period for dumbass stuff like high sticking and slashing. annoying game to watch. coyotes average 2.7 goals per game and of course beat that average last night with 3. a team thats not good at scoring goals against a team that most of you were bragging were the 8th best defensive team in the league shouldve been a great matchup….but thats twice now the yotes put up 3 goals and embarassed the pens.

    • hockey412 - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      I don’t really think anyone embarassed anyone, in a one-goal game, they just out-played them…you disagree? And who was bragging about the 8th best defensive team? Must’ve missed that?

      I thought it was a pretty good game? Up until about 1:45 seconds left, anyway.

      • jpelle82 - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        malkamania penguins87and71 gsr something were saying yesterday (here: http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2014/03/25/pens-lose-malkin-foot-for-2-3-weeks/ ) how the defense this year wasnt the real problem with the team and that it was injuries. i thought it was pretty evident last night the problem was defensive lapses and missed assignments or flat out lazy play by defensemen. i knew after they scored the 3rd goal it was over, they went into shutdown mode like they did last time we played them and their goalie made the few necessary saves needed. i was embarassed, this is a game they shouldve won at home.

      • hockey412 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        ah – gotcha, I see your point. There were a bunch of lapses. Actually they’ve sucked at clearing the front of the net all year.

      • jpelle82 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        a lot of times there’s no one there to help move it out of the zone after guys clear it from trouble anyway and the other team just works it back into a cycle. thats the problem with the collapsing defense they fall into at times. you get guys clogging the middle, blocking shots, clearing traffic all good things but then the wingers arent where they are supposed to be or just cant win the battle when the puck is moved out from in front and into corners. then you have sustained pressure and eventually guys get tired, take a penalty or a goal gets scored. you can tell when they are clicking by how quickly they are moving the puck out of their zone and by that first pass. they were missing a lot of the first passes last night on the breakout. maybe it was miscommunication because of the line juggling but i hate to use injuries as an excuse. plus these guys all know each other and should know the system well enough to plug and play by this point of the season.

    • c9castine - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      i would refrain from saying the coyotes embarrassed the penguins in a 1 goal game where nobody scored in the 3rd period.

      sounds more like they capitalized on their chances and played great road hockey to take the win.

  11. darksidecowboy - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    I still think it’s coming down to the last game in Glendale. Although losing to the Hawks last night, along with the Yotes beating the Pens didn’t help. The landscape of the last wildcard spot could change as early as next Monday with all the back to back games coming, GO STARS!!!

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