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Avalanche defeat Stars to end four-game losing streak

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche used a balanced attack and a workmanlike effort to defeat the Dallas Stars 4-1 at Pepsi Center on Saturday and end a four-game losing streak.

Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Gabriel Landeskog and Dennis Everberg scored for the Avalanche (23-22-11), who have won all four games against the Stars this season.

"I thought it was a real solid team effort," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "That's the type of game I was hoping to see us play. I was happy to see the team respond the way we did. It was an important game. We know we need to get to 95 points (to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs) and we have 38 (more) to get. Hopefully we can build around tonight's game."

The Stars (26-22-8) played without four of their regular forwards, including top-line center Tyler Seguin, who sustained a knee injury Friday against the Florida Panthers. He is expected to miss 3-6 weeks.

Goalie Jhonas Enroth, who was acquired Thursday from the Buffalo Sabres, made 26 saves in his Stars debut.

"I thought he played well," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of Enroth. "There was nothing that went through him. Couple of tough breaks. They had a little bit of puck luck when it came to pucks finding holes and hitting bodies."

Iginla gave the Avalanche a 3-0 lead at 3:20 of the third period. Brad Stuart's shot hit the inside of Iginla's knee and sailed past Enroth. Stuart collided with teammate Nick Holden just before the puck entered the net. The defenseman hit the ice and was down for about a minute, but he was able to return.

"It was a pretty big collision," Stuart said. "I went to shoot the puck and I just felt like I got run over by a train. Luckily I was able to shake it off. My ribs are a little sore, but other than that I feel pretty lucky."

The goal was Iginla's 18th of the season and the 578th of his NHL career, moving him past Mark Recchi into sole possession of 19th place on the all-time list.

"We know we need to put a real string together and before we could do that we had to get back on the winning side," Iginla said. "It was a good game for us. Guys played well, guys played hard, and we did a lot of the things we wanted to do."

The Stars cut the deficit to 3-1 at 9:58 when Jason Spezza carried the puck from the corner into the left circle and beat goalie Semyon Varlamov to the short side. Each team had a player in the penalty box, but Ruff pulled Enroth to give his team a 5-on-4 skating advantage shortly before Spezza scored.

"I had one like that years ago in Atlanta," Ruff said. "I think I pulled him with 13 minutes left. I just felt to give us our best chance, give us a power-play look, that if I pulled him right then I was banking on we'd get set up on our 5-on-4 formation and look to score."

But the Stars didn't score again, and Everberg knocked a loose puck behind Enroth with 23.1 seconds remaining.

The Avalanche went ahead 2-0 at 5:28 of the second period on Tanguay's goal. Nate Guenin took a shot from the left point and Enroth made the save, but Everberg was in front and nudged the puck with his stick to Tanguay, who put it into a half-empty net.

Spezza thought he scored at 17:02, which would have cut the Avalanche lead to 2-1, but video replay confirmed that he used his glove to bat the puck off Stuart into the net.

"You just have to have possession of the puck after it hit my hand, so you hope you get the call, but I understand the ruling on it," Spezza said. "I don't think we had as much jump as we've had over the last few weeks. I thought we were a little bit flat as a group. When we get behind on these back-to-backs, it's tough playing from behind when you're chasing the game the whole night. I don't think we had enough urgency in our game until the end."

Landeskog opened the scoring at 11:28 of the first period when he tipped in a shot from Nathan MacKinnon, who was originally credited with the goal.

"We know it's hard playing a back to back, it isn't fun," MacKinnon said. "We've played well against Dallas and we're confident against them. Not having Seguin and [Ales] Hemsky changes the dynamic, it definitely really hurts them. Those guys are pretty deadly."

Avalanche left wing Cody McLeod was assessed a fighting major, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct at 6:22 of the third period following an altercation with Stars defenseman Jason Demers.

Demers sustained a facial cut when McLeod checked him into the boards behind the Avalanche net and a scrum ensued. Another one took place soon after in front of the benches. Demers was given a roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct.

"There was a scrum behind the net, I went back to the bench for a change after things cleared out of there," said McLeod, who fought with Curtis McKenzie in the first period and finished with a career-high 30 penalty minutes. "I was standing there and got hit in the back of the head. I don't know why they kicked me out of the game, but that was the call."

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