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Blue Jackets, Stars play crucial game in Dallas

(Sports Network) - The Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars both face a must-win game on Thursday night, when the two playoff-hopeful clubs get together at American Airlines Center.

Both the Blue Jackets and Stars are just on the outside of the playoff picture, sitting ninth and 10th overall in the Western Conference, respectively. Columbus is one point behind the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings, while Dallas is four points back with two games to play for all three clubs.

The Stars would be eliminated from contention with a loss to the Blue Jackets or just one point gained tonight by the Red Wings in their meeting with the Nashville Predators. However, a victory by Dallas and a regulation loss by Detroit would make things interesting as the Stars close the regular season at home versus the Red Wings on Saturday.

Columbus, meanwhile, lost out on the tiebreaker to Detroit due to the Red Wings' regulation victory on Wednesday night versus the Los Angeles Kings. Detroit has 20 non-shootout wins on the season to Columbus' 17. The seventh- seeded Minnesota Wild have 21 non-shootout wins on the season and lead the Blue Jackets by two points.

The Wild also have two games left in the season and are idle tonight.

The Blue Jackets bounced back from last Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Kings with Sunday's 4-3 triumph over the San Jose Sharks. Ryan Johansen scored the winner with 1:37 to play, while Mark Letestu scored twice and Vinny Prospal once.

"If we are forechecking hard and we're after pucks and using our speed and our size that's playing to our strengths," Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards said.

Sergei Bobrovsky remained strong in net, stopping 32 pucks for Columbus.

While the Blue Jackets have stayed in the hunt by winning six of their last seven, the Stars have done themselves no favors. They went 0-2-1 on a recent three-game swing and have lost four of their past five overall.

That includes a 3-2 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday. Goals by Loui Eriksson and Antoine Roussel had Dallas in front, but San Jose scored a pair of goals in the third period just 30 seconds apart to steal the win.

Kari Lehtonen gave up all three goals on 37 shots in the loss.

"Desperation. Do or die," Stars center Jamie Benn said. "Just like tonight. We needed these points and didn't get them. There are still four out there that we can get."

The Stars and Blue Jackets split two previous meetings this season in Columbus and Dallas has won five of the previous seven encounters overall.

04/25 11:20:07 ET

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