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Pacific Division Round-Up: Two spots left and four teams in the fight

Plus a head coach takes a leave of absence.

Mar 2, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames players fight with New York Rangers players in front of New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) net during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. New York Rangers won 3-1. Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Another week has passed and we’re that much closer to hockey’s second season. It’s become clear that finishing in the top three in the Pacific Division may be the only way for the division’s teams to make it into postseason. With that in mind, here’s a look at how the teams are faring.

Anaheim Ducks (35-24-12)

The Ducks look like they’re doing everything in their power to not make the playoffs. After weathering a string of injuries in the beginning of the season and still managing to hold onto a playoff spot, Anaheim is now healthy and floundering.

The Ducks snapped a three-game losing streak last night, when they shutout the Vancouver Canucks. John Gibson had 32 saves in the 3-0 win. Prior to that, Anaheim lost 4-2 to the St. Louis Blues on Monday, 2-1 to the Dallas Stars on Friday and 4-2 to the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

The win ties Anaheim with the Los Angeles Kings for third in the Pacific Division. The only problem is that LA has a game in hand.

Anaheim’s next chance to earn a much-needed two points is on Friday when they host the Detroit Red Wings. Game time is 7:00 PDT.

Arizona Coyotes (25-35-11)

The Coyotes are out of the playoff race, but they do have the chance to play spoiler for the rest of the season. Case and point on Tuesday, when they did the Sharks a favor and beat the Kings 4-3 in a shootout.

The Coyotes also shutout the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 on Sunday. Backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves in the win. Arizona lost to the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Saturday.

The Coyotes have 13 more games this season, including two against the Calgary Flames, one against the Kings, and one against the Ducks.

In other Coyotes news, head coach Rick Tocchet is on a leave of absence from the team while he deals with a family illness. In a statement released by the team, general manager John Chayka said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Toc as he deals with this personal matter. It’s important that he takes the time to be there with his family.”

Assistant Coach John MacLean has assumed the position of head coach in Tocchet’s absence. MacLean will be at the helm tonight when the Coyotes host the Preds. Game time is 7:00 PDT.

Calgary Flames (35-26-10)

In Calgary, the Flames have goaltender Mike Smith back in net and they’re ready to make a push for the postseason. Calgary was right there in the playoff hunt until last month when Smith went down with a lower body injury. The Flames have floundered in his absence and had lost seven in a row until Tuesday night when Smith shutout the Edmonton Oilers 1-0. The veteran goaltender made 28 saves in the win.

Missing from that game was one of the team’s top scorers. Matthew Tkachuk is out with what’s being called an upper body injury. Tkachuck was helped off the ice during Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders after his head smacked into the boards. He is currently listed as day-to-day.

The Flames lost to the Ottawa Senators 2-1 on Friday.

Calgary is back on the ice Friday against San Jose. Game time is 6:00 PDT.

Edmonton Oilers (30-35-5)

Defenseman Oscar Klefbom needs shoulder surgery, but until then he’s determined to help the Oilers any way he can. Klefbom had a goal and an assist in last night’s 4-3 overtime loss to San Jose. He’s expected to join the team on its upcoming four-game road trip before he goes under the knife. Klefbom says his shoulder has been an issue for a long time. The shoulder surgery will end his season, but he should be back and healthy in time for next season.

The Oilers were shutout by the Flames 1-0 on Tuesday. They beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Saturday and the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout on Thursday.

Their next game is Saturday against the Florida Panthers at 11:00 a.m. PDT.

Los Angeles King (38-26-6)

With the Ducks faltering, the Kings have pushed their way into playoff contention. As of this morning, Los Angeles is holding on to the third spot in the Pacific Division. LA will have to do more if they want to keep their lead. The Kings lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Coyotes on Tuesday and were thrashed by the St. Louis Blues 7-2 on Saturday.

LA did beat the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Thursday and shutout the Canucks 3-0 on Monday. Jonathan Quick had 35 saves in the win.

The Kings host the Red Wings tonight at 7:00 PDT. The Wings have lost seven games in a row.

Vancouver Canucks (25-37-9)

The Canucks are trying to rebuild and management is under fire. The team resigned defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a three-year, $12-million contract extension in February and now he’s having season-ending shoulder surgery. Gudbranson hurt his shoulder in November and missed 12 games.

Meanwhile, the Canucks are having trouble scoring. Vancouver hasn’t scored a goal in three games. The Canucks were shutout by the Ducks 3-0 on Wednesday, shutout by the Kings 3-0 on Monday and shutout by the Coyotes 1-0 on Sunday. Prior to the shutout streak, they lost to the Minnesota Wild 5-2 on Friday. They are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for the third season in a row.

Vancouver’s next game is on Saturday against San Jose. Game time is 7:00 PDT.

Vegas Golden Knights (45-20-5)

The Golden Knights are lucky that they’re so far ahead in the Pacific Division race because they’re dealing with a lot of injuries to key players right now. Forward James Neal has a hand/wrist injury and has not played since February 26. He’s finally back skating with the team and could return soon. Forward Reilly Smith hasn’t practiced with the team since he was injured on March 6. He’s not expected back for at least another week. The team is also without backup goaltender Malcolm Subban, defenseman Luca Sbisa, and forwards Oscar Lindberg and William Carrier.

The injuries hurt the Golden Knights last night, when they were blown out by the New Jersey Devils 8-3. Prior to that, Vegas had a three-game win streak. They beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Monday in goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s 400th career win. The Golden Knights also beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday and shutout the Detroit Red Wings 4-0 on Thursday. Fluery made 28 saves in the win.

Las Vegas plays the Wild Friday at 7:30 PDT.