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Stars aim for homestand sweep vs. resurgent Avs

by Brian Hunter
AVALANCHE (11-7-1) at STARS (10-7-0)

TV: ALT2 (HD), TXA 21 (HD)

Last 10:
Colorado 7-3-0; Dallas 5-5-0

Season series: Second of four meetings this season. Colorado posted a 5-0 shutout on home ice on Nov. 6 behind 31 saves from Peter Budaj. The Avalanche got a pair of goals from Kevin Porter while Philippe Dupuis added a shorthanded tally and a couple of assists.

Big story: Colorado did just fine while Craig Anderson was on injured reserve with a knee injury, as Budaj posted a 6-3-1 record in his stead, but the Avalanche were thrilled to welcome their No. 1 goalie back Friday when they faced the New York Rangers. Anderson didn't disappoint, making 25 saves in a 5-1 victory.

"I feel good," Anderson said. "I don't want to push it too much right off the bat, but I think I did what I had to do. I was feeling good out there. For me, it was just a matter of getting back to a rhythm and staying with it. I had a good week of practice and put myself through some pretty strenuous exercises this week to make sure that I was ready to go."

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Beginning to show some consistency at the Pepsi Center, Colorado completed a sweep of its three-game homestand by throttling New York. Matt Duchene scored a goal and assisted on two others during a four-goal second period for the Avalanche, who moved into a tie for the Northwest Division lead with the idle Canucks.

"I talked earlier when we started this homestand about starting to establish a good home record again," coach Joe Sacco said. "We've done that now. We're a couple games above. 500 (6-4-0) and that's real important at home."

Stars: A victory on Saturday would give Dallas its own sweep of a three-game homestand, with one-goal wins over Anaheim and San Jose already in the books. The Stars' 5-4 overtime triumph against the Sharks on Thursday was particularly satisfying for Mike Ribeiro, who entered without a goal over the first 16 games of the season. With the Stars trailing 4-2 late in the game, James Neal scored his second of the night and Ribeiro finally got on the board 29 seconds later to tie things up. Ribeiro followed with his second goal at 2:52 of the extra period for the win.

"He's still creating, he's still generating chances, he's still good on the power play, he's still good 5-on-5," coach Marc Crawford said of Ribeiro's first 16 games. "And while it's not going into the net for you, he's still sitting there with 14 assists, still among the top 50 scorers in the League. That's pretty good. But there's no doubt that there's value in scoring and he values scoring, he wants to raise those arms in the air."

Who's hot:
Chris Stewart has 1 goal and 3 assists during a three-game points streak and leads the Avalanche in scoring with 23 points. David Jones has 2 goals and 1 assist during a three-game points streak. … Brad Richards has goals in three-straight games for the Stars and 6 points over that span. Neal has 2 goals and 3 assists during a three-game points streak.

Injury report:
Colorado forward David Koci is sidelined with a broken jaw. Defensemen Kyle Cumiskey and Kyle Quincey are on injured reserve with concussions. Forwards Peter Mueller (concussion), TJ Galiardi (wrist) and David Van Der Gulik (knee) are also on injured reserve.

Stat pack:
The four goals in the second period Friday by the Avalanche were a season high. … In beating the Sharks, the Stars won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods (1-5-0) and also improved to 4-0 in games that go beyond regulation (2-0 overtime, 2-0 shootout).

Puck drop:
Sacco planned on deciding who would start in goal Saturday after analyzing Anderson's performance against New York. Anderson was a workhorse in his first season with Colorado and seemed to prove his health Friday with a quick, sliding save on Alex Frolov in the first period.

"They tic-tac-toed it pretty quick there and he was able to go side to side and move laterally very quickly over there to make a big save," Sacco said. "Good for Craig. It's good to have him back."

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