The Nashville Predators are on a five-game winning streak, but in the crowded Western Conference playoff standings, that still hasn't left them with much breathing room.
The Predators will try to create more cushion between themselves and the ninth-place Dallas Stars when the teams meet in Nashville on Saturday night.
Nashville (40-25-10) improved to 9-2-2 in its last 13 games after beating eighth-place Anaheim 5-4 on Thursday.
The Predators are tied with Los Angeles for fifth place in the West but sit just five points back of Detroit for the Central Division lead, which would give them one of the top three seeds.
Nashville, though, is only four points ahead of Dallas (38-25-10).
"That's a huge two points," David Legwand, who has four goals in the last five games, said of this meeting with the Stars.
Nashville is hoping for a better finish than the one it had against the Ducks. The Predators led 5-1 in the third period after scoring three goals in the first, but they were outshot 18-6 in the final 20 minutes and 38-28 overall.
"It might have been the biggest game of the year for us," coach Barry Trotz said. "We had a chance to go head-to-head against a team that was chasing us. It was a four-point game. It was a regulation win. We can control our actions, but we weren't as detailed as we needed to be.
"I'm happy with the two points, but I'm not happy with the way we mismanaged the third period."
Sergei Kostitsyn scored twice in the first period, and Nick Spaling had a goal and an assist. A win Saturday would match Nashville's longest run of the season from Dec. 31-Jan. 11.
Trotz only has to point to his team's recent contests against the Stars to show what happens when the Predators don't close out games.
Nashville has lost its last two meetings with Dallas despite leading in the third period in each. The Predators, who won the first matchup, were outscored 5-1 in the final period of those games.
While the Stars have fallen out of the top eight, they are only one point behind the Ducks. Dallas fell 4-3 in overtime to Anaheim on Wednesday.
The Stars, opening a five-game road trip, have lost their last two after regulation. The Ducks scored with seven seconds remaining in the third and then 1:42 into the extra period.
"As hard as it is, you've got to look at the positive side of it," coach Marc Crawford said. "We played a strong game, battled, and by all rights should have won the game. We got a point out of it. So all is not lost. We will survive to fight a better day and move forward."
After a disappointing end to their seven-game homestand, the Stars will look to rebound on the road, where they're 4-0-1 in their last five after dropping seven in a row.
Dallas has won its last two visits to Nashville.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every NHL game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.