The Los Angeles Kings clinched a spot in the 2012 NHL playoffs on Thursday night thanks to a Dallas Stars loss. Unfortunately, the Kings suffered a 6-5 shootout loss against their Pacific Division rivals the San Jose Sharks, leaving the two teams tied atop the division with 94 points each. The division title carries with it the all-important No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. The Kings have one game left in their season -- also against the Sharks, when the teams meet again in San Jose on Saturday.
The plot gets substantially thicker due to the Phoenix Coyotes still having two games left on their schedule. The Coyotes are sitting on 93 points, just one point behind both the Sharks and the Kings. Thus, the Coyotes have a chance to take the Pacific Division title outright if they win out the season. The Coyotes will play on Friday against the St. Louis Blues and will close things out on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.
Both the Kings and the Sharks will be glued to their televisions on Friday night and both teams will be rooting for a Phoenix loss. The game in St. Louis begins at 4:30 p.m. PT. If the Coyotes lose in regulation -- which they very well might against the formidable Blues -- Saturday's game between the Sharks and the Kings will decide the division.