NHL Scores: Stars Retain Pacific Lead; Avalanche Remain Outside Of Playoffs

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 28: Steve Downie #27 of the Colorado Avalanche watches goalie Cory Schneider #35 of the Vancouver Canucks make a save during the first period in NHL action on March 28, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars improved their NHL Playoff chances with a victory over the Edmonton Oilers, but the Colorado Avalanche lost a tough 1-0 game to the Vancouver Canucks, staying outside the top eight spots in the Western Conference standings.

With just a handful of games remaining in the NHL regular season, the playoff picture still remains mostly unsettled. However, the Dallas Stars have placed themselves nicely after Wednesday night's 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. The Stars moved up to 89 points and maintained the Pacific Division lead. They still hold the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference and a one-point lead over the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. But a tough test awaits the Stars this weekend, as our Stars blog Defending D points out:

Two points were the important part, of course, and they needed both as the Los Angeles Kings continue to nip at the Stars heels with a win over Calgary tonight. The Flames season is for all intents and purposes pretty much dead now with that regulation win.

Dallas is very much alive, however, and now face the dreaded back to back in Vancouver on Friday night and in San Jose

The Colorado Avalanche, however, weren't as lucky as the Stars. Though they played well, the Vancouver Canucks defeated them, 1-0. That was a big blow, and the most important move in a four-step process Mile High Hockey pointed out before the game:

Step 1: Root for the Avalanche to beat the Canucks.

Step 2: Root for Calgary to beat Los Angeles in regulation.

Step 3: Root for Edmonton to beat Dallas in regulation.

Step 4: Root for Anaheim to beat San Jose in regulation.

The first three failed to happen, but Step 4 did occur; it just wasn't enough to help the Avalanche. They hold 86 points and are two points out of the playoffs. With just three game left in the regular season, the Avalanche will need a miracle to make the playoffs.

For more hockey coverage, head over to SB Nation NHL

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