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Avs look to end skid against Stars

by Davis Harper

STARS (13-12-3) at AVALANCHE (10-14-4)


Last 10: Dallas 4-4-2; Colorado 3-6-1

Season series: This is the second of three meetings. Jamie Benn scored a pair of goals, including the winner, to give Dallas a 3-2 win at the Pepsi Center in the first encounter on Feb. 4.

Big story: Sitting just outside the crowded Western Conference playoff picture, Dallas ended a serious slide in its last outing and will look to improve its offensive consistency against a struggling Colorado team. The Avalanche have lost four straight, a skid in which they’ve been outscored 20-9.

Team scope:

Stars: After Chicago handed the franchise its worst home loss since relocating from Minnesota in 1993, the Stars could only improve Monday against the Flames. And they did, racing out to a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from Erik Cole, Eric Nystrom and Loui Eriksson. Eriksson scored late in the third and Kari Lehtonen made 16 saves as Dallas held on for a 4-3 victory. The win ended a four-game losing streak during which Dallas was outscored 16-3.

"It was a big win. I thought we clawed our way a little bit to the surface here, we still got a few feet to go," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We were doing simple things to win the game, our leadership was real good throughout. We have to continue with that mindset."

Avalanche: Whatever brief glory Colorado enjoyed after ending Chicago’s unbeaten streak on March 8 has disappeared in the five games since. Over that span, the Avalanche have gone 1-4-0 and given up 23 goals – including 11 during a home-and-home trouncing at the hands of Minnesota. On Monday, the Avalanche welcomed the Blackhawks back to the Pepsi Center. The Blackhawks were eager for revenge and they exacted it, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead they never relinquished. The game unfolded in all-too-familiar fashion for the Avalanche, who fell behind early for the fourth time in four games.

"It's frustrating, but we're in this together," said captain Gabriel Landeskog. "We win together and we lose together. We have to dig ourselves out of this. It has to come from within. We have to be a better team at the start, especially at home. It sounds like a broken record, but [poor starts] are kind of killing us right now."

Who’s hot: Benn, the hero of the last matchup, has four assists in his last four games.

Injury report: Ryan Garbutt (hand) and Aaron Rome (foot) are day-to-day for Dallas. … For Colorado, Ryan Wilson is day-to-day with an ankle injury. Steve Downie will miss the rest of the season as he undergoes rehabilitation after knee surgery.

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