Top Two NHL Western Conference Teams in Friday Showdown

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by Free Picks USA - 3/11/2016 6:20 AM Share
Top Two NHL Western Conference Teams in Friday Showdown

The NHL regular season is winding its way to a close. Most teams have played 65 or more games of their 82-games schedule.

The two top teams in the Western Conference collide on Friday night when the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Dallas Stars.

Only one point separates the top three teams in the Western Conference with Chicago and Dallas tied and St. Louis just one point back.

St. Louis was able to gain ground on Chicago with its shootout win of 3-2 on Wednesday over the Blackhawks. Chicago is just 3-3-1 over a stretch of seven games, while Dallas has 8 losses in its past 11 games.

Dallas took one point from an overtime loss of 4-3 at Montreal on Tuesday.

Chicago could not protect a lead of 1-0 after the first two periods against the Blues though they were able to earn an all important one point when they pulled Corey Crawford from goal and scored with an extra man to send the game into overtime.

St. Louis scored each of its two goals late in the game on the power play, which further exposed the Blackhawks recent weakness of penalty killing defense.

Chicago has killed only 61% of its short-handed situations over the past 12 games. That is the lowest mark in the league during that period.

The decline in defense can explain the recent drop off, of Dallas as well. The team has given up 40 goals to the lead the league over its past 10 games played.

The Stars were already missing Jordie Benn and John Klingberg with injuries and lost Jason Demers on Tuesday in what looks to be a long-term injury to his shoulder.

The Stars have also seen their top two forwards slump with Tyler Seguin -7 over a five-game span without scoring a single point. Jamie Benn has not scored in seven straight as well.

Marian Hossa for Chicago has been sidelined for nine games but could return after practicing this past Tuesday with the team.

Patrick Sharp, a former Chicago Blackhawk could return for Dallas after starting practicing this week.

Chicago's Crawford has given up two or less goals in five straight starts and recorded 36 saves in Chicago's win of 5-1 at Dallas on February 6.

Dallas won the initial meeting between the two teams to start this season.

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