Dallas Stars keep believing as playoff chances fade

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Stars truly believed they were a playoff team throughout the entire season. They knew they had games in hand and were not playing their best hockey but would have time to catch up. That time is running out.

Dallas currently sits four points behind the Nashville Predators for the final playoff spot in the Discover Central Division with only one game in hand. The Stars will play two games in Tampa Bay and two games in Chicago while Nashville finishes with one game in Columbus and two at home against Carolina. The task in front of them is a tall one but the Stars will continue to believe until the very end.

Dallas Stars continue to believe in their playoff chances

"“It’s been difficult all the way through,” Rick Bowness said. “We keep preaching that if we battle hard, we give ourselves a chance to win every night. It’s a little bit more of a challenge, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. We’re very positive here and we’re going to keep pushing the positive.”"

Dallas had a huge chance to improve their position in the standings when they faced the Predators for the final time this season on Saturday night. With a regulation win, they would have jumped ahead of Nashville going into the final week. However, yet another overtime loss meant that the gap was now three.

The Dallas Stars had another chance to gain ground on Monday night as they faced the Florida Panthers. Nashville was in Columbus and with a win and some help, Dallas could make the race much tighter. It was very important to gain ground to start this week so they could build some momentum and belief. However, Dallas trailed Florida 4-2 after two periods while Nashville led Columbus 3-0 at the same point. It looked like the perfect storm to all but kill the Stars’ playoff hopes.

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Then, Dallas Stars fans were given a brief glimpse at what they grew so accustomed to in last year’s playoffs. The Stars scored two goals in 11 seconds to tie the game at four. Tyler Seguin, who was playing in his first game all season after hip and knee surgeries, scored the tying goal four minutes into the third period. To increase the drama, Columbus saw their 21-year-old center, Emil Bemstrom, score his first three goals of the season as his natural hat trick tied the game 3-3 in the third period. All of a sudden, Dallas was in a favorable position to gain points in this intense playoff race.

Both games would go to overtime and within minutes, the tide had completely changed. Dallas took a penalty and Aleksander Barkov scored to hand the Stars their 14th loss past regulation this season. Meanwhile, Nashville did what they have done all year as Roman Josi ended the game in overtime for the Predators. The Stars went from possibly pulling within two or even one point, to now trailing Nashville by four points with only four games remaining.

"“It’s tough,” said center Radek Faksa. “We lost so many overtimes this season, it’s tough.”"

The math is now fairly simple for Dallas. They sit at 56 points with four games remaining while Nashville has 60 points with three games remaining and own the tiebreakers. If Nashville gains at least four points in their final three games, the Stars will be eliminated from playoff contention. Dallas can hit a maximum of 64 points if they were to go 4-0-0 to finish out the season.

It is more than fitting that in order for the Dallas Stars to make the playoffs, they will need to solve a Tampa Bay team that has absolutely dominated them dating back to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020. Dallas is 1-4-1 this season against the Lightning and has been shut out in three of those games.

More. The Stars and Preds battle for the last spot. light

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While stranger things have happened and it is not out of the question for the Stars to make the playoffs, they sit at the bottom of a very large and very steep hill. They will need wins and some help along the way if they have any chance of playing past 56 games this season. No matter the outcome, it should be fun to watch.