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Desperate Stars go for sweep of Avs

by John Kreiser
STARS (41-28-11) at AVALANCHE (29-43-8)

TV -- FS-Southwest+ (HD); ALTITUDE (HD)

Last 10 --
Dallas 4-3-3; Colorado 3-7-0

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the fourth and final time this season -- and the second in as many nights. Colorado won the first two before the Stars won 4-2 at American Airlines Center on Thursday.

Big story -- Dallas came into Thursday night's game needing three wins in four days and some help from Detroit to catch Chicago for eighth place in the West. Step 1 was beating the Avs in Dallas, and the Stars did just that with their 4-2 win. Step 2 is winning the rematch in Denver while hoping the Detroit Red Wings can knock off the Hawks once in their home-and-home series Friday and Sunday.
Team Scope:

Stars -- It wasn't a masterpiece, but the Stars got the job done in the front end of the home-and-home series against the Avs on Thursday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after one period and never letting Colorado get even. Dallas outshot Colorado 37-23 and got goals from four players -- including three of its big guns: Loui Eriksson, Brenden Morrow and Brad Richards.

"This was the first step and we got to get a good little rest here and get ready for a big one tomorrow," said Morrow, whose 31st goal of the season early in the third period stood up as the game-winner. "This is what we play the whole year for. All summer, you think about the workouts that you put in, it's to be in position to win the Stanley Cup. We're done with 80 of them, we have two left to win to give ourselves a chance. That's what it's all about. It's pretty easy to get up for these games."

Avalanche -- The Avs haven't been in the playoff hunt for weeks, they're missing several key players and their season will end Sunday. But they're not just playing out the string -- they made the Stars work hard for their two points on Thursday and figure to do the same before a home crowd at the Pepsi Center.

"Most of the guys can say to themselves that they did everything they could to help the team win," coach Joe Sacco said. "It was good for guys to see what playoff hockey was like, because for Dallas that was playoff hockey."

Who's hot --
Richards has 2 goals and 5 points during a four-game points streak. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who made 21 saves on Thursday, is expected to make his 68th start matching his career high. … Colorado's Matt Duchene assisted on both goals Thursday has 6 goals and 15 points in his last 13 games.

Injury report --
Injuries have decimated the Avs, who are without forwards Paul Stastny (leg), David Jones (leg), Tomas Fleischmann (blood clots), TJ Galiardi (forearm) and Peter Mueller (concussion) and defensemen John-Michael Liles (concussion), Matt Hunwick (head), Kyle Quincey (shoulder), Kyle Cumiskey (whiplash), Cameron Gaunce (finger) and Adam Foote (foot) … Dallas will be without defenseman Nicklas Grossman (knee) and forward Brian Sutherby (back). Forward Adam Burish (leg) returned after missing 11 games.

Stat pack -- Colorado has dropped 17 of its last 20 games. … Dallas is 6-for-27 (22.2 percent) on the power play in its last eight games after going 1-for-19 in its previous five.

Puck drop -- The teams are nearly 30 points apart in the standings and even further apart in motivation, but Crawford isn't expecting an easy night.

"Tomorrow night will be a huge challenge with Colorado in their building, the altitude and all those sorts of factors, but I really think our guys are up to it," he said after Thursday's win. "They feel like they're a team of destiny right now and they want nothing more than to win for each other and that's a powerful quality to have as a group."

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