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Pacific Division Round-Up: One cup contender may lose its starting netminder

Plus a bad week pushes Calgary out of playoff contention.

Mar 20, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) defends the goal against Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter (20) during the first period of an NHL hockey game at T-Mobile Arena.  Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

And then there were four. The Calgary Flames have basically played themselves out of playoff contention, while the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks have done what veteran teams seem to do: win when it counts.

Meantime, the Vegas Golden Knights are still holding on tight to the top spot in the Pacific Division, but an injury to a key player could signal an early exit for the surprise cup contender.

Anaheim Ducks (38-24-12)

The Ducks and the Kings seem to be playing leapfrog when it comes to that final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. As of this morning, Anaheim occupies that spot, but LA is just one point behind.

The Ducks were perfect this week, shutting out the Flames 4-0 on Wednesday, beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Sunday, and beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Friday.

For the next few weeks, Anaheim will be without defenseman Kevin Bieksa. He recently had hand surgery to remove scar tissue. He’s expected to be back in time for the playoffs.

The Ducks next play on Friday at 5:00 PST against the Winnipeg Jets.

Arizona Coyotes (25-37-11)

The Coyotes are going to have to do a lot of work in the off-season if they want to contend with the league’s big dogs next year. Arizona beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Wednesday and the Flames 5-2 on Monday, but lost to the playoff-bound Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Saturday and the Nashville Predators 3-2 on Thursday.

Former Shark and current Coyote Jason Demers is out for the rest of the season with an upper body injury.

The Coyotes visit the Florida Panthers today. Puck drop is 4:00 PST.

Calgary Flames (35-30-10)

What a difference a week makes. This time last week, the Flames were pushing for a playoff spot; this week, they’re hoping the teams ahead of them screw up. The bad week has left the Flames idle with 80 points, seven behind the Kings who are currently positioned in the second wildcard spot.

Calgary was shutout by the Ducks 4-0 on Wednesday, lost to the Coyotes 5-2 on Monday, and was shutout by the Golden Knights 4-0 on Sunday. Oh yeah, and then there was that crazy 7-4 loss to the Sharks on Friday when Evander Kane scored four goals. Like I said, tough week for Calgary.

The Flames’ TJ Brodie left midway through Sunday’s game against Vegas after taking a big hit from Ryan Reaves. Brodie has not suited up for the Flames since. Matthew Tkachuk has now missed five games with an upper body injury.

Next stop for the Flames will be Saturday at SAP Center. They play the Sharks at 1:00 PST.

Edmonton Oilers (32-36-5)

Edmonton beat Carolina 7-3 on Tuesday with seven different Oilers lighting the lamp. They split the Florida series over the weekend. The Oilers lost to the Tampa Bay Lighting 3-1 on Sunday, but beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Saturday. Regardless, with Anaheim’s victory last night, they were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Edmonton plays in Ottawa against the Senators today at 4:30 PST. The big question for the Oil is if Zack Kassian will play. He’s missed the last two games with a mysterious injury.

Los Angeles Kings (40-27-7)

Strong play by the Kings along with some luck has helped LA take over the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference. LA claimed five of a possible eight points this week. The Kings lost to the Jets 2-1 in overtime on Tuesday, but beat the Wild 4-3 in OT on Monday. LA was shutout by the Devils 3-0 on Saturday, but beat flailing Detroit 4-1 on Thursday.

Next up for the Kings, a date with the Colorado Avalanche. The two teams play today at 6:00 PST. There’s still no word on if forward Trevor Lewis will suit up for the game. Lewis was injured in Monday’s game and did not play Tuesday. He has an upper body injury.

Vancouver Canucks (25-39-9)

The season is winding down and Vancouver is in a great position to end it last in the league. The Canucks lost to the Golden Knights 4-1 on Tuesday and lost to the Sharks 5-3 on Saturday.

Vancouver plays the Chicago Blackhawks today at 5:30 PST and they will do it without defenseman Ben Hutton. Hutton did not accompany the Canucks on this four-game roadtrip. He stayed home to deal with a foot infection.

Vegas Golden Knights (47-21-5)

The Golden Knights still have an eight point lead over the Sharks, but these last nine games will test them. Vegas beat the Canucks 4-1 on Tuesday, but may have lost starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the process. Fleury took a shot off his mask in the first period and left the game. There’s still no update on his condition and head coach Gerard Gallant is playing coy.

Fleury did not travel with Vegas to San Jose on Wednesday for tonight’s 7:00 PST game, but Gallant told the Las Vegas Review-Journal Fleury could join the team, “...tomorrow or in the near future.” With Fleury out, backup goaltender Malcolm Subban is expected to take on the workload.

The Golden Knights beat Calgary 4-0 on Sunday. Fleury had 42 saves and William Karlsson scored a hat trick. Vegas lost to Minnesota 4-2 on Friday.