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Stars top Avalanche; Dickinson scores in NHL debut

Dallas can win Central Division with victory in season finale

by Steve Hunt / NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS -- Rookie Jason Dickinson scored a goal in his NHL debut, and the Dallas Stars moved within one victory of winning the Central Division by defeating the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 at American Airlines Center on Thursday.

"I just thought of coming in here and playing my game, keeping it simple and just trying to contribute as best I can," Dickinson said. "Fortunately enough, it ended up as a goal."

Dallas (49-23-9) remained even in points with the St. Louis Blues, 2-1 overtime winners against the Chicago Blackhawks, for first place in the division. Each team plays its final game Saturday at home; Dallas hosts the Nashville Predators and the Blues play the Washington Capitals. However, the Stars own the tiebreaker because they have 47 regulation/overtime wins, three more than St. Louis. The Central Division winner will be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

The Stars have won eight of their past 11 games.

Video: COL@DAL: Dickinson scores first career goal in debut

"A good team effort tonight," captain Jamie Benn said. "Dickinson got us going early, and it was good to see him get his first. It was a bit of a boring game at times but we took care of what we had to take care of."

Dickinson, recalled from Texas of the American Hockey League earlier in the day because center Jason Spezza was ill and couldn't play, gave the Stars a 1-0 lead at 15:13 of the first period when he beat Calvin Pickard with a backhand shot that deflected off the stick of Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie.

"I thought he played well for his first NHL game," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "A little bit fortunate, but I thought that line gave us some good opportunities. He scored, so for a first game I thought it was a good showing."

Video: COL@DAL: Matthias deflects it home to trim deficit

Colton Sceviour and Jordie Benn had had second-period power-play goals for Dallas. Antoine Roussel had an empty-net goal and Kari Lehtonen made 17 saves.

Francois Beauchemin and Shawn Matthias scored third-period goals for Colorado (39-38-4), which was eliminated from playoff contention with a 4-3 loss at Nashville on Tuesday.

"You want to be playing for the big dance. When you're not, it definitely [stinks], but like I said before the game you have to be professional about it. This is our job and we got to come out and do a [heck] of a lot better than we did tonight," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said.

Dallas dominated the first period, outshooting Colorado 15-4 and taking the lead on a goal by Dickinson, the 29th player taken in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Video: COL@DAL: Jo. Benn hammers one past Pickard

"I think Dallas played a solid game defensively," Colorado coach Patrick Roy. "They're a tough team to play against. There's a reason why they're No. 1 in our division."

The Stars scored twice after Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson was assessed a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for boarding Dallas defenseman Johnny Oduya 3:07 into the second period.

"They got a couple power plays in a row there," Pickard said. "I would have liked to have that second goal [back]. He [Sceviour] made a pretty good move going to the other side on a quick little jam play. When it's 2-0 and then they get the screen slap-shot goal and it's 3-0, it's a tough hole to climb out of. But give our guys some credit; they really battled hard in the third period, threw a lot at them and just came up a little bit short."

Sceviour made it 2-0 when scored his 11th of the season 36 seconds into the long power play. Colorado forward Mikhail Grigorenko went off for hooking at 7:03, giving the Stars a two-man advantage, and Benn's slap shot from the left point beat Pickard top shelf for a 3-0 lead.

Video: COL@DAL: Sceviour beats Pickard in front

"I thought Colton played a real good game for us. He scored a real nice goal. He had the puck quite a bit," Ruff said. "Down low he made some real nice plays."

Beauchemin beat Lehtonen at 9:06 of the third period with a wrist shot from the right circle through heavy traffic. But Roussel hit the empty net with 3:06 remaining, 30 seconds after Pickard left the ice for an extra attacker. Matthias scored with 59.9 seconds remaining.

Roy missed morning skate due to food poisoning but was able to coach the game for the Avalanche, who finish the regular season Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks at Pepsi Center.

"No, I was OK, no excuse," he said. "I never looked for excuses as a player, and I'm not going to look for excuses as a coach. Those things happen. I'm sure it's happened to other coaches."

Video: Stars double up Avalanche, 4-2

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