Around the Pacific: Stars surging; Carter's linemates

Around the Pacific: Stars surging; Carter's linemates
February 26, 2012, 12:48 am
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Admit it.

You didnt expect the Phoenix Coyotes to be a threat in the Pacific Division this season, especially after they lost All-Star goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov in the offseason.

But the Coyotes are hanging around, and then some. Theyre 10-0-1 in the month of February, and with a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, jumped into first place in the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference and leapfrogged the Sharks.

Granted, San Jose has three games in hand on the Coyotes, whom it now trails by two points before Saturdays game in Nashville, but the Sharks' lackluster road trip and the surge in the standings by the Coyotes indicates that the Pacific Division race is still wide open. The Sharks had an eight-point lead in the standings on Phoenix as recently as the All-Star break one month ago.

The Coyotes and Sharks meet three more times this season: March 10 and March 29 in the desert, and March 24 at HP Pavilion.

Kings add Carter

The Los Angeles Kings made the biggest trade to date as Mondays deadline approaches, by acquiring forward Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round draft pick. The Kings hope that Carter, who recorded a hat trick in his last game with Columbus on Tuesday against the Sharks, provides a much-needed offensive jolt to the team thats last in the NHL in goals per game (2.05).

Carter was expected to play on the wing with his good friend and former teammate in Philadelphia, Mike Richards, in his Kings debut on Saturday night at home against Chicago. Dwight King is on the other wing with Richards in the middle.

In 39 games with Columbus, Carter had 15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points.

The Sharks will see Carter and the Kings three more times this season: March 20 at Staples Center, and a home-and-home to end the regular season on April 5 and 7.

Stars fighting through injuries

The Dallas Stars are alone in eighth place in the Western Conference with 68 points thanks to a three game winning streak, despite some key injuries throughout the year.

Leading scorer Jamie Benn, out with a leg injury after getting cut by a skate blade, could return on Wednesday after a five-game absence.

Mike Ribeiro, Alex Goligoski, and Kari Lehtonen have all missed time, but the Stars remain in the thick of the playoff race and are just three points behind the Sharks before Saturdays action.

San Jose visits the Stars in Dallas on March 8 and April 3, and hosts them on March 31.