The Dallas Stars joined the Colorado Avalanche on the list of Western Conference teams eliminated from postseason contention over the weekend.
Missing the playoffs for just the second time in 12 years, however, won't keep the Stars from trying to finish the season strong.
The Stars, relying on some of their young talent as they close out 2008-09, visit the conference-worst Avalanche on Thursday night.
Dallas (35-35-10) was eliminated from playoff contention Saturday night despite a 5-4 win over St. Louis. The Stars had made it to the postseason in 10 of the last 11 seasons, and they came within two games of advancing to the Stanley Cup finals last spring.
Though it's been a frustrating and injury-plagued season for Dallas, the Stars are hoping to end it on a high note by turning to some of their younger players down the stretch.
The revamped roster didn't bring the team a victory in its last game Tuesday night, as Dallas fell 3-1 at Minnesota. Rookie winger Fabian Brunnstrom scored the Stars' goal for his third point in as many games, but Dallas gave up two power-play goals while getting outshot 17-9 in the second period.
"Some of our mistakes came back and bit us," coach Dave Tippett told the team's official Web site. "We gave them some glorious chances and they capitalized. We have some guys putting in some hard honest work, but we are going to need more of that."
One of the young players contributing for Dallas is rookie Matt Climie, who made 29 saves against the Wild in his second career start since being recalled from Idaho of the ECHL on Friday.
"I felt better out there tonight, I saw the puck well and I want to continue growing as a player, be patient and stop pucks," said Climie, who won his NHL debut Saturday against the Blues. "I'm extremely competitive and I hate to get scored on. I'm going to keep showing up and working hard until they tell me I have to get on a plane back to Boise."
Climie could get another chance in net against the Avalanche (32-44-3), who have recorded at least a point in consecutive games following six straight regulation losses.
Peter Budaj stopped 30 shots in his second shutout of the season Tuesday night but the Avalanche fell 1-0 in a shootout to San Jose, owner of the best record in the league.
"We got a little sloppy in the second period, but I was able to make stops," Budaj said. "(Sharks goalie Evgeni) Nabokov made some big saves. It's a tough way to lose, because we played well enough to win it."
Though the Avalanche are at least eight points behind every other team in the West, they've played well against the Stars this season, going 2-0-1 in the first three meetings.
Budaj, who came into this season with a 3.13 goals-against average in 10 games versus the Stars, is 1-0-1 with a 1.45 GAA against them in 2008-09.
Dallas, 1-5-1 in its last seven road games, has dropped three straight at the Pepsi Center, most recently losing 3-2 there Feb. 5.
Avalanche winger Milan Hejduk has three goals and an assist against the Stars this season.