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12/16/2013
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Stars, Avalanche open home-and-home in Denver

Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 6:44 PM

STARS (15-11-5) at AVALANCHE (21-9-1)

TV: FS-SW, ALT

Last 10: Dallas 4-3-3; Colorado 5-4-1

Season series: This is the third of five games between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche. Colorado won the first two games, each by a 3-2 score. The Stars and Avalanche will play the second of this home-and-home series Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

Big story: Four big points are on the line in this home-and-home series that begins at Pepsi Center on Monday night. The Avalanche are in a virtual tie with the Minnesota Wild for third place in the Central Division, with 43 points each; Dallas trails Colorado and Minnesota by eight points.

Team Scope:

Stars: Dallas is wrapping up a three-game road trip in Colorado after splitting the first two games. The Stars bounced back from a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday by earning a 6-4 win against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Saturday. Dallas forward Tyler Seguin had two goals and two assists and defenseman Sergei Gonchar added four assists in the victory.

"We've been getting so many chances and haven't been getting bounces," Seguin said of his team's power play, which went 2-for-5. "We know that the top teams in the [Western Conference] have great special teams, so we've been trying to figure that out."

Avalanche: Colorado coach Patrick Roy revealed Sunday that defenseman Ryan Wilson will miss the game Monday, but is set to return from a back injury when this home-and-home series concludes Tuesday. Wilson, 26, hasn't played since Nov. 6 against the Nashville Predators.

Several players have been asked to step up on Colorado's blue line this season, including Tyson Barrie, Andre Benoit, Nate Guenin and Nick Holden. Roy said he's been pleased with what he's seen from those four in particular.

"I think, without a doubt, the four of them have been playing good hockey for us," Roy told reporters after practice Sunday. "It's not always easy to be in and out of the lineup. Holden handled it pretty well. I'm very happy with him, same thing with Guenin. When Guenin came into training camp, we were not sure if he would make the team, and he made a great impression. That's what we asked our players before training camp, is to make a good impression on us, give us a chance to make tough decisions. He forced us to keep him.

"Obviously, the four of them have been playing some very good hockey for us. They have showed a lot of consistency. It's going to be even tougher when Willie will be back. We're gonna have some good decisions to make on who will be in and who will be out."

Roy said Semyon Varlamov will be the starting goaltender Monday, followed by Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Tuesday in Dallas.

Who's hot: Avalanche forward Maxime Talbot has two goals and one assist in the past five games. … Seguin's four-point night Saturday was his second in the past four games. He leads Dallas with 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) in 29 games.

Injury report: Stars forward Vernon Fiddler (upper body) has missed the past three games. Defensemen Stephane Robidas (leg) and Trevor Daley (ankle) are on injured reserve. … Besides Wilson, the Avalanche are also expected to be without forward Alex Tanguay (hip/knee).

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