Playoff race: April 22

That point the Stars picked up in last night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings was a key one because it kept them in control of their fate in this incredibly tight playoff race.

It’s not quite as easy as saying the Stars just need to win their final three games and they’re in. This is the NHL. It’s not always as simple as winning and losing. It’s a points-based standings system. How you lose can be important and sometimes how you win can be important as well, and there could be a scenario where the Stars might have to win in regulation against Detroit on the final day of the season to get in.

But I am getting ahead of myself because there is a lot of hockey to be played before the regular season finale. Right now, the Stars just need to find a way to win in San Jose on Tuesday, and any kind of win will do.

Columbus found a way to win in San Jose Sunday. The Blue Jackets blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the game, but scored late to win 4-3. They now sit three points ahead of both the Stars and Red Wings. They’ve played two more games than Detroit and one more than Dallas. They don’t control their own destiny. They now get to sit and watch everyone else because they don’t play again until Thursday, when they are in Dallas to take on the Stars.

Minnesota lost to Calgary, 4-1, on Sunday. The Wild aren’t out of the woods yet as far as a playoff spot. They are 3-7-1 in their last 11 games. They have three games left and still control their own destiny, but they are making things tough on themselves.

Tonight’s game

The big game tonight is Detroit hosting Phoenix. Both teams need points. The Red Wings, who are opening a three game homestand, still control their own destiny in the playoff race, but they have just one win in their last six games and could use one tonight. A victory would pull them to within one point of Columbus with a game in hand, and it would push them two points ahead of the Stars. If the Red Wings lose in regulation, they’d lose control of their own fate.

The Coyotes’ chances of getting in remain slim and they need help from others. A win keeps hope alive and a loss pushes them closer to elimination.

Playoff chances

The Stars’ playoff chances dropped after last night’s overtime loss and Columbus’ win in San Jose. The Stars’ chances are 21.3 percent, according to sportsclubstats.com.

Rank Team GP W L OT Pts ROW Diff Yesterday Today
7 Minnesota 45 24 18 3 51 20 -3 vs. CGY, L 4-1  
8 Columbus 46 22 17 7 51 17 -3 @ SJS, W 4-3  
9 Detroit 44 20 16 8 48 18 -3   vs. PHX
10 Dallas 45 22 19 4 48 20 -6 @ LAK, L 4-3 (OT)  
11 Phoenix   44 19 17 8 46 15 -4   @ DET

Hockeyreference.com puts the Stars’ chances at 21.6 percent in its Playoff Probabilities Report.

Remaining schedules

Here are the remaining schedules for the teams ranked 7th through 11th in the Western Conference.

Team (7) MIN (8) CBJ (9) DET (10) DAL (11) PHX
Points 51 51 48 48 46
ROW 20 17 18 20 15
GR 3 2 4 3 4
Home 2 1 3 2 2
Away 1 1 1 1 2
4/22     vs. PHX   @ DET
4/23 vs. LAK     @ SJS  
4/24     vs. LAK   vs. SJS
4/25   @ DAL vs. NSH vs. CBJ  
4/26 vs. EDM       vs. COL
4/27 @ COL vs. NSH @  DAL vs. DET @ ANA

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