NHL Scores & More: Sharks And Coyotes Keep Falling, Senators And Avalanche Win Blowouts

March 6 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo on his bench during the first period of the game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

The NHL playoff races are heating up and many teams are getting down to crunch time. We round up Tuesday night's scores for you.

A full slate of a dozen NHL games were played on Tuesday night. There was at least one big upset, a couple of honest-to-gosh blowouts and a slew of very close contests. Let's take a look at some of the scores from around the league.

Blue Jackets 3, Coyotes 2

The Phoenix Coyotes streaked to the top of the Pacific Division and now they're in danger of streaking right back down again. They dropped a game to the woeful Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday and have now lost four games in a row. Matt Wagner at The Cannon celebrates the win.

For the first time this season, the Blue Jackets have finally put three wins in a row together.

Oops. Spoilers.

In fact, Spoilers might be the ideal way to describe tonight's rematch against the Coyotes, as the desert dogs are foundering in their attempt to stay above the "bar" - having already slipped out of the Pacific Division lead, they find themselves just three points above both the Kings and Avalanche, both of whom have begun pushing their way towards the door.

Enter the lowly Blue Jackets - the oh, so wretched Jackets, who must have looked like a blessed bit of scheduling to grant the Coyotes a reprieve. Four points in the bag, boys! Home and home and we're right back on top!

Senators 7, Lightning 3

The Ottawa Senators put on a good old-fashioned thrashing of the hometown Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, scoring three goals each in the first and third periods. Milan Michalek picked up the hat trick in the win. DarrenM at the aptly-named Silver Seven has this to say:

After dropping two straight games, the Senators were facing considerable pressure to complete a season sweep of a Lightning team desperately trying to climb their way into the eighth playoff spot.

The Senators came out of the gate strong, outshooting the Lightning 14-8 in the first frame.

Milan Michalek finished off the Lightning with one of the most bizarre natural hat-tricks ever recorded, scoring a beautiful powerplay goal on a perfect snipe shot before firing home two empty-netters in the last two minutes of the game.

Kings 5, Predators 4

The Los Angeles Kings needed a win to stay in the hunt in the Pacific Division. They visited the Nashville Predators and the teams matched one another blow for blow throughout. The Kings scored two goals within the first 3:00 of the third period and were able to hang on for the win. Chris Burton at On The Forecheck laments the loss:

Well, that was weird. The Nashville Predators needed two points tonight to keep pace with the St. Louis Blues, but fell just short, as they couldn't quite complete the comeback against the Los Angeles Kings despite Patric Hornqvist reaching the 20 goal plateau for the 3rd straight year with two tonight.

Hornqvist said during the first intermission that (paraphrasing) there "were no fluky goals", and to some extent, he has a point - but there were definitely some odd ones.

Avalanche 7, Wild 1

The Colorado Avalanche hosted the free-falling Minnesota Wild and showed absolutely no mercy. Colorado had racked up five points before the Wild ever got on the board, including netting four goals in the second period. Perhaps even more impressive: all seven Avalanche goals were scored by different players. Cheryl Bradley at Mile High Hockey observes that the win was marred by an Avalanche injury:

Four minutes and change into the third, Matt Hunwick was the victim of a super duper ticky tacky hooking call as he was coming back to stop a Devin Setoguchi breakaway. Seto was awarded the penalty shot, which he netted to end the shut out bid. Lots of folks up in arms about that one until reality hit everyone hard. Matt Duchene went down awkwardly as an opposing player got his stick caught up in Dutchene's skates. He was clearly in a lot of pain, and no one was sure at the time if it was his ankle or his knee that was injured. He was helped off the ice, unable to put any weight on his right foot. News came in about a half-hour after the game that it was, in fact, his ankle. More will be known tomorrow about how serious it is, but my bet is he's out for at least the rest of the regular season.

Flames 5, Canadiens 4

The poor Habs can't catch a break. The Montreal Canadiens managed to score two third-period goals, but couldn't quite catch the hometown Calgary Flames. The Associated Press via SI.com had this to say:

Missing six forwards because of injury, the Calgary Flames got a big night from captain Jarome Iginla.

Iginla scored his team-leading 26th and 27th goals and the Calgary Flames built a three-goal third-period lead then hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens , snapping a five-game home winless skid.

"We've been going through a tough stretch and sometimes when it goes like that, you just need to get that one to get over that hump," said Iginla, who had his first multi-goal game since Dec. 10.

Stars 5, Canucks 2

Thanks to a Coyotes loss and a big road win, the Dallas Stars claimed sole possession of the top spot in the Pacific Division by decisively defeating a strong Vancouver Canucks team at home. Brad Gardner at Defending Big D offers his take:

Edmonton? Check. Calgary? Check. Vancouver? That's a big check.

The Dallas Stars departed on the dreaded and feared Western Canadian road swing and return now with a perfect six of six points after tonight's gargantuan 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

The win is critical, as it keeps Dallas just three small points out of 8th and 9th place on a night when the Kings and Avalanche were both victorious. A Phoenix loss to Columbus (again) means the Stars will retain possession of first place in the Pacific Division for at least another day.

Oilers 3, Sharks 2 (SO)

For San Jose Sharks fans, it is now officially time to panic. The team that stayed in first place in the Pacific Division for most of the season has now sunk straight to fourth place and are in danger of being passed by the Anaheim Ducks. They dropped a shootout loss at home to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. Matthew Taylor at Fear the Fin comments on the loss:

There's being unlucky, and then there's getting scored on ten seconds into a game after a few fluky bounces. It's amazing how many things have gone wrong for San Jose when they seem to be doing so much right, especially tonight. For a team that was already coming in with a limp, Jordan Eberle's goal just seconds into the first period cut the Sharks off at the knee. San Jose gave it everything they had for the rest of the night, but again, fell short of the expected outcome.

For complete coverage of the world of professional hockey, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub.

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