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Stars keep hope alive as they head to Minnesota

by Brian Compton
STARS (42-28-11) at WILD (38-35-8)

TV: NHL Network (U.S. & Canada), TXA-21 (HD), Fox Sports-North (HD).

Last 10: Dallas 4-3-3; Minnesota 3-6-1.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Dallas is going for a sweep on Sunday having outscored Minnesota by a 12-3 margin in three victories.

Big Story: Dallas will wake up Sunday morning still alive in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. However, the Stars could be eliminated before they even put the blades on at the Xcel Energy Center.

Should the Chicago Blackhawks win their matinee against Detroit at the United Center, they would clinch eighth place and knock out the stars. Obviously, Marc Crawford & Co. will be rooting heavily for the Red Wings, who lost 4-2 to the Hawks on Friday night in Motown. Dallas, winners of four straight, trails Chicago by two points. The Blackhawks must lose in regulation in order for the Stars to have a chance.

"The only thing we control is how we prepare and how we play," Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "That's the only thing we can focus on. It's frustrating (to need help), but at the same time, that's why you play 82 games -- to get a shot at playing in the playoffs."

Team Scope:

Stars: Dallas made it four in a row when it completed a home-and-home sweep of the Colorado Avalanche with a 3-2 win against the Avs at the Pepsi Center on Friday night. Mike Ribeiro had goal and an assist for a second straight night and also blocked a shot in the final seconds to secure the victory.

"We found a way," Ribeiro said. "We knew they were going to play better than the last game. Coming here, back-to-back games, it's never easy to come up here, but we battled through, we played hard. Everyone was involved, Kari made the saves at the right time for us and it was a team effort. It's a good thing that we won, to keep that dream alive and keep believing that we can still get in there."

Wild: Minnesota will attempt to finish its season with back-to-back victories after earning a 3-1 win against Edmonton on Friday at Rexall Place. Jose Theodore made 28 saves and Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu assisted on all three goals for the Wild, who swept the six-game season series with the Oilers.

"We came out with emotion and want to end this season on a positive note," defenseman Brent Burns said. "We're going to compete until the last whistle blows."

Who's Hot: Ribeiro has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in his last four games, while Stars captain Brenden Morrow has scored in four straight contests.

Injury Report: Dallas will be without Nicklas Grossman (knee) and Brian Sutherby (back). … Marco Scandella (broken finger), Cam Barker (back), Josh Harding (knee), James Sheppard (knee), Marek Zidlicky (hamstring), Martin Havlat (upper body), Guillaume Latendresse (lower body), Nick Schultz (post-concussion syndrome) and John Madden (foot) are all out for Minnesota.

Stat Pack: Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen will set a new career high with his 69th appearance on Sunday. He played in 68 games for Atlanta in 2006-07.

Puck Drop: "It's just come a little bit more clear for us. When you look at the big picture, it's kind of tough to just focus in on one game at a time, but when you get down to three, four, five, and they're all do-or-die, it makes it a lot easier to take it one at a time. It boils down to one more day. We're still alive. We got to worry about our game and we'll look for some help from there." -- Stars captain Brenden Morrow

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