All the Dallas Stars needed to do on Sunday night was win their final game. Two points in any form but via the shootout would have elevated them over the Chicago Blackhawks and into the 2011 NHL playoffs, but the Minnesota Wild had other ideas.
The Wild held on to a 4-3 third period lead before scoring an empty netter to officially end the Stars' season. Dallas heads home with heartbreak on the mind, while the Blackhawks, likely watching together around a television in Chicagoland, collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
And now that they're in, they'll face a familiar playoff foe in the Vancouver Canucks, who they've dispatched from the postseason twice in the last two seasons. Of course, this time, the Canucks are the President's Trophy winners and they have a bit more ammo heading into the series. Even still, though, this won't be a typical No. 1 vs. No. 8 playoff matchup.
The Blackhawks owe the Wild some beers, as they're in the playoffs with a legitimate shot of making a run.