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Modano leads Stars to 3-2 win over Avalanche

by Brian Hunter

He's a 20-season NHL veteran and the all-time leading scorer among American-born players. But Mike Modano isn't resting on his laurels or looking back just yet. He's busy trying to lead the Dallas Stars back into the postseason.

Modano recorded his first two-goal game of the season Friday night, including the game-winner7:01 into the third period, as the Stars edged the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 at American Airlines Center and moved into sole possession of 10th place in the Western Conference, one point behind Calgary and two in back of Detroit for eighth.

Jamie Benn also scored and Alex Auld stopped 24 shots for the Stars, who won their second straight for the fifth time this season. Dallas will try for its first three-game winning streak when it hosts Phoenix on Sunday.

"We're looking at every game individually right now," coach Marc Crawford said. "We're putting ourselves in a good position. We've won, what, five of our last seven, and we're starting to play with a little more confidence."

Matt Duchene and T.J. Galiardi had the goals for the Avalanche, which lost for the second straight night after winning six in a row. Craig Anderson finished with 28 saves.

"They play a hard-nosed game here," Anderson said. "They have their fans behind them and have a lot of energy here. Obviously, they played a lot more physical tonight than a couple of nights ago."

Modano scored his second of the night and the 555th goal of an NHL career that started with the Minnesota North Stars during the 1989 Stanley Cup Playoffs by picking up a loose puck and wristing a shot past Anderson to give Dallas a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

With the two-goal performance, his first since Dec. 3, 2008, against Edmonton, Modano moved past Mats Sundin into 25th on the all-time scoring list with 1,351 points.

"I've been feeling much better lately,'' Modano said. "I think it's just a combination of some valuable time off that Marc has given me, and just being able to rest up, and primarily focus on the games. Mentally and physically, I've been feeling better lately and it's just a good routine that we've got going on here, right here and right now, and we seem to be playing well in the areas that we've been trying to improve on.

"Time away is good for the brain, for me, at this age. I think I've come back a little refreshed after those days off."

Auld turned aside all 11 shots Colorado took in the third period. The backup to Marty Turco has won four of his last five starts.

"He's making the big stops and giving us a chance to win every night, and that's what we need,'' Dallas forward Brian Sutherby said. "We're going out there and banging and crashing, and putting pucks on net, and getting a couple to go in. It's a good feeling in here, and we've got to keep it going."

The Avalanche had answers to each of the Stars' first two goals. Benn redirected a Steve Ott shot past Anderson at 3:18 of the first, but Duchene responded 36 seconds later with his 17th goal of the season. The 19-year-old leads all NHL rookies with 36 points.

Modano got the lead back at 7:55 when his attempted centering pass from behind the net struck Colorado defenseman Kyle Cumiskey and bounced past Anderson.

"He's still a dangerous player," Colorado center Paul Stastny said. "He has an unbelievable release and still has one of the best shots. He's still a threat out there and it showed tonight."

Dallas carried the 2-1 lead into the second, but Galiardi struck at 10:56 to tie the score.

Colorado missed an opportunity to move back into a first-place tie with Vancouver atop the Northwest Division standings.

"I think overall it was an average game for us," coach Joe Sacco said.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report

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