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Stars-Coyotes Preview

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The Dallas Stars would love to jump up a few spots in the Western Conference before the postseason begins.

The Stars wrap up a three-game road swing against Pacific Division opponents Saturday night when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes in the opener of a home-and-home series.

Dallas (44-24-6) is in seventh place in the Western Conference, six points ahead of Calgary, which holds the eighth and final playoff spot. However, the Stars, who have eight games left on their regular-season slate, trail sixth-place Minnesota by just one point and fifth-place San Jose by two.

Dallas is coming off Friday's 3-2 overtime loss against Pacific Division-leading Anaheim, but has still managed to earn a point in seven of its last eight games , picking up six wins over that span. The Stars won 4-2 in Los Angeles on Wednesday in the opener of their current trip.

"Good speed, good intensity, all of the above in that game," coach Dave Tippett said Friday. "Scoring chances and some great goaltending, a little bit of everything. I liked the way we competed. I thought (goalie Marty) Turco gave us some big saves, and we fumbled a bit with the puck."

Sergei Zubov and Mike Modano each scored Friday for the Stars, and Turco made 32 saves. Dallas went 1-for-4 on the power play and has scored eight man-advantage goals in its last five games.

Modano has six goals and three assists during a seven-game point streak. The veteran center picked up his 503rd goal last week to become the all-time leader among U.S.-born players, and with 1,220 points is just 13 points shy of passing Phil Housley's record for American players.

The Stars have won their last four games in Phoenix, including three this season. Overall, they have won six of their last seven games against the Coyotes, who they will host on Tuesday for the last time this season.

Phoenix (29-41-4), which owns the worst record in the West, won for just the second time in 11 games on Thursday, beating the Ducks 2-1. Jeff Taffe and Bill Thomas scored for the Coyotes, and Curtis Joseph shut the Ducks out for all but the final 2:33 of the game.

"We've played hard lately, but we haven't really gotten rewarded, but we did tonight," Coyotes defenseman Keith Ballard said. "We played a good game, top to bottom, every line played well, all the (defensemen) played well and (Joseph) was great."

Joseph has 444 career victories, one shy of Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk for fourth on the NHL's all-time list, but has allowed eight goals in three losses to the Stars this season.

Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said that a good mix of veterans and younger players is giving his team a lift as the season winds down.

"Obviously our young guys are playing well but I think our experienced guys are playing really well right now too," he said.

Right wing Shane Doan, who is wrapping up his 11th season with the franchise, has scored three goals in five games this season against Dallas.

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