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Avalanche-Stars Preview @NHL

The Dallas Stars have won every meeting with Colorado this season. They hope another victory will mean they won't have to see the Avalanche in the playoffs.

The Stars try to improve their postseason chances while landing another blow to Colorado's as the teams meet Sunday at the American Airlines Center for the final time during the regular season.

Dallas (33-20-2) has won four of its last five games, including a 1-0 victory over Pacific Division-leading Anaheim on Saturday. The third-place Stars are now within six points of the Ducks in the division with 68 and are sixth in the Western Conference.

Colorado (26-24-4) is in 10th place in the West with 56 points after dropping five of its last seven games.

Dallas has won all three matchups with the Avalanche in 2006-07 and six straight overall during the regular season, with all but one of those contests decided by one goal. The Avs have knocked the Stars out of the playoffs the last two seasons, however, winning both series in five games.

Dallas starting goaltender Marty Turco is 5-0-0 with a 2.83 goals-against average in his last six starts versus the Avs, but it was backup Mike Smith who came up big Saturday.

Smith, who signed a two-year contract extension Wednesday, stopped 32 shots to lead Dallas to its first shutout since Dec. 21 and seventh overall this season. Jussi Jokinen scored a power-play goal in the third period for the Stars, who won despite getting outshot 16-6 in the third period and 32-21 overall.

"This was a big win for us," Stars leading scorer Philippe Boucher said. "They've been on top all year long. Hopefully if we play well we'll get a chance to catch them at the end."

The Stars are playing the third game of a five-game homestand, and are 4-0-1 in their last five contests at the American Airlines Center after a stretch of just two wins in eight.

"We talked after the game to the team and said that as good as this win feels, we need to be even better tomorrow because a hungry Colorado team is coming in," Stars coach Dave Tippett told the team's official Web site. "For tomorrow, we'll kick a few things around and see what we're going to do in net. That decision will be made tomorrow."

Either Turco or Smith will face a Colorado squad playing on the road for just the second time in the last month. The Avalanche lost three of five on their recent homestand, including a 6-3 defeat to the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday.

They trailed 4-0 midway through the second period and lost despite outshooting the Thrashers 20-7 in the final period and 48-32 overall. Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which went 2-for-3 on the power play.

Jose Theodore allowed three goals on 11 shots before being replaced by Peter Budaj. Both netminders have struggled during their career against Dallas.

Budaj is 0-2-2 in his last five appearances versus the Stars, posting a 3.16 GAA, while Theodore is 1-6-1 with two ties and a 2.95 GAA in 10 career starts against them.

Karlis Skrastins was honored before Thursday's loss as he broke Tim Horton's NHL record for consecutive games by a defenseman, playing in his 487th straight in the regular season.

"It was a big game for me, one of the biggest I have ever had and it was very emotional," Skrastins said. "It would have been happier to win, but hockey is hockey."

Dallas' Brenden Morrow (wrist), Antti Miettinen (lower body), Steve Ott (ankle) and Matthew Barnaby (concussion) have all been sidelined with injuries recently.

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