Mar 22, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) makes a save on a Vancouver Canucks shot during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Stars Lose 2-1, One Point Division Lead In Jeopardy

Corey Schneider stops 25 of 26 shots as the Stars lose 2-1 in a chippy game to the Canucks. The Stars division lead looks to be lost as the other Pacific Division teams play later tonight.

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2012 NHL Playoff Race: Dallas Drops From 3rd To 8th With One Loss

The NHL's Pacific Division has become the most important division title race in the 2012 playoff race, as evidenced by last night's drop by the Dallas Stars, who with a 2-1 loss to Vancouver, fell from the third seed in the Western Conference to the eighth and final spot.

Dallas entered the night with a slim one point lead over Los Angeles and Phoenix, with San Jose close behind. The Stars' loss combined with the Kings' win (1-0 over St. Louis in a shootout) thrust L.A. into the Pacific lead - and the division's automatic Top-3 seed - with 86 points. The Kings are tied with Phoenix, who loses the tiebreaker and settles for seventh, while the Stars are now eighth with 85, tied with ninth place Colorado.


Western Standings

GP W-L-OT Pts
St. Louis Blues 75 46-20-9 101
Vancouver Canucks 74 44-21-9 97
Los Angeles Kings 74 37-25-12 86
Detroit Red Wings 74 44-25-5 93
Nashville Predators 74 42-24-8 92
Chicago Blackhawks 75 42-25-8 92
Phoenix Coyotes 75 37-26-12 86
Dallas Stars 74 40-29-5 85
Colorado Avalanche 76 40-31-5 85
San Jose Sharks 74 37-27-10 84
Calgary Flames 75 34-26-15 83
Anaheim Ducks 75 32-32-11 75
Minnesota Wild 73 31-32-10 72
Edmonton Oilers 74 29-36-9 67
Columbus Blue Jackets 73 23-43-7 53

Why the drastic drop? Simply put - the Pacific Division is lacking a frontrunner. Dallas has been one of the hottest teams in hockey since the All-Star break, but no team has been able to build a commanding lead in division play, while clubs like St. Louis (101 points) and Vancouver (97) have all but wrapped up the Central and Northwest.

There's also a matter of lopsided parity in the division structure this season - at 85-86 points, Phoenix, L.A. or Dallas would all finish in last place in the murder's row of the Central Division, where four teams occupy the Top 6 seeds in the West.

What's this mean for the Stars? A lot of scoreboard watching. Dallas only has two division games left in their final eight (a home-and-away with San Jose), with four teams scrambling for two (possibly three) spots, a No. 3 seed being one of them.

For more on the Dallas Stars, check out SB Nation's NHL page and Defending Big D.

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That's A Wrap: Stars Lose 2-1, Schneider Stymies Dallas

Dallas dropped another one, their third loss in four games tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. Dallas looked lively in the third period but just couldn't quite put together a comeback.

The Canucks doubled up their lead on a Kevin Bieksa goal just five minutes into the period. A Kevin Bieksa shot was stopped by Lehtonen but he couldn't control the rebound enough. Bieksa picked up his own rebound and easily skated his way to the net and put it over a sprawled Lehtonen. No defensemen picked up Bieksa and just allowed him to skate free through the zone.

Dallas would finally get on the board on a wacky goal. The puck went behind the net and Schneider went back to get the puck as it bounced off the boards but flat out missed it. He fell down as a result and the puck rolled right in front of the net and Vernon Fiddler was the first guy to reach the puck to tap it in.

It was a weird game for the Stars. There wasn't a whole lot of energy to the team for some reason, but they were more than willing to throw some extra punches and shoves after the whistle. Dallas was really trying to be physical, maybe too physical, in this game. It kind of seemed like they were trying to intimidate the Canucks but that didn't really work.

Dallas couldn't get past Cory Schneider enough tonight. He was stellar throughout and only a fluke play led to a goal, one in which he was behind the net when the puck went in. If it had been Roberto Luongo in net, Dallas would have won this one.

Kari Lehtonen had a pretty good game, stopping 26 of 28 shots. He couldn't do much on the first goal but his rebound led to the second goal.

Dallas now holds a very precarious lead on first in the division. The other teams in the Pacific are currently playing and all could jump ahead of Dallas with wins.

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2nd Intermission Report: Stars 0 - Canucks 1

There was no scoring from Dallas but if nothing else, the Stars finally woke up a bit in this period. Dallas finally began to get some sustained pressure on the Canucks and were able to get some good scoring chances on Cory Schneider. Unfortunately, Schneider was up to the task again. He stopped a flurry of chances midway through the period, then stoned Mike Ribeiro on a penalty shot and then stopped Benn on a short-handed breakaway.

Unfortunately for Dallas, they had some rampant delinquency that got in the way of all the momentum. Dallas took three penalties in the period (Ribeiro with two himself) and actually ended up on a 5-on-3 that they were able to survive as the Canucks took a penalty of their own.

This game just comes down to what Cory Schneider is doing. Dallas just needs to keep the puck flowing towards the net and hopefully they'll be able to pounce on a rebound. Schneider has given up a few so they are there to be had.

The Stars outshot Vancouver 11-10 in this period and Kari Lehtonen continues to look good. The goals are there. Dallas just needs to grab those chances.

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1st Intermission Report: Stars 0 - Canucks 1

Well, it shouldn't be too surprising, but the Stars fell behind early again.

The Canucks struck first in this one on a goal by Mason Raymond. Henrik Sedin made a gorgeous pass from the right-hand boards across the ice to a wide-open Raymond who was just waiting on the back step. Stephane Robidas was covering Zach Kassian in front of the net and no, absolutely no one, was on Raymond and he had an easy wrister for the first goal of the game.

Even though no one was covering Raymond, you can't fault the defense too much on that goal. The pass from Sedin was a majestic one that was threaded through about four or five sticks. Kari Lehtonen had no chance to stop the puck and the only way Vancouver wouldn't score is if Raymond whiffed on the puck, which didn't happen.

Dallas could have scored three goals in this period, but Cory Schneider was having none of it. He stopped Loui Eriksson on a slap shot from the slot, a wide open Alex Goligoski slapper from the left face-off circle and then a Michael Ryder one timer from the right face-off circle. His performance in the period makes one wish that Roberto Luongo was in the game.

The Stars had a lot of trouble keeping possession of the puck in this period and couldn't sustain an attack. Everything was a one chance shot and Schneider saved all of those. There really wasn't a whole lot of energy in the team, though they were more than willing to do a little shoving after the whistle.

Dallas managed only seven shots on goal in the period.

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Stars Vs. Canucks: Game Preview, TV Info And More

Dallas is just one point ahead of Phoenix and L.A. in the Pacific Division. Vancouver comes stumbling into American Airlines Arena, hoping to beat the Stars for the first time this season.

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