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Stars look to extend winning streak to four

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- It was nearly one week ago that Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff called a closed-door meeting with his players, a meeting also attended by Dallas general manager Jim Nill. And since that meeting last Tuesday, which came just hours after Dallas lost 4-1 at the Nashville Predators, the Stars have won three straight by outscoring the Minnesota Wild, Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins by a total of 14-1.

Dallas has another challenge looming Monday when the Colorado Avalanche visit American Airlines Center.

One reason why the Stars have started to surge is because their power play is firing on all cylinders. In their past seven games they are 9-for-24 (37.5 percent) on the power play, a welcome sight for a team that has struggled with the man advantage for much of the season.

"I think our execution is better," Ruff said. "Our finish has been better. We've had a couple power plays where it's only been one chance but we've put that one in. I think lately our entries have been real good, getting in the zone, setting up and getting that first opportunity or trying to score off the rush."

Dallas also has killed off 15 straight opposing power plays.

Since things are going so well Ruff is keeping his forward lines and defensive pairings intact and Kari Lehtonen is again starting in net, his eighth consecutive start.

Colorado is wrapping a three-game road trip Monday, a trip the Avalanche are 1-1-0 on, and also concluding a stretch of three games in four nights. That grind means that forward PA Parenteau, who has played three straight games since returning from a 10-game absence due to a knee injury, will be a healthy scratch against Dallas.

"We like the experience we get with [Alex] Tanguay. We sat him out in Tampa. We're going to do the same thing with Parenteau," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "He [Parenteau] missed a lot of games with an injury and we thought it would be good for him to sit out."

Parenteau's absence means that John Mitchell likely starts for a second straight game. Roy said he is keeping his defensive pairings the same from a 5-2 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal for Colorado. Jean Sebastien-Giguere, who has been bothered by back spasms, is healthy so the Avalanche on Monday assigned goalie Sami Aittokallio to Lake Erie of the American Hockey League.

"We sent Sami back this morning because [Giguere] is ready to go," Roy said. "It's a long year and things like this happen and now having [Giguere] back, it's good to see."

Here are the lineups the teams likely will go with Monday:


Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Alex Tanguay

Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn

Maxime Talbot - Nathan MacKinnon - John Mitchell

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Patrick Bordeleau

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Andre Benoit

Ryan Wilson - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Nate Guenin, PA Parenteau

Injured: Cory Sarich (back), David Van Der Gulik (head)


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Erik Cole - Vernon Fiddler - Ray Whitney

Rich Peverley - Shawn Horcoff - Alex Chiasson

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Jordie Benn - Brenden Dillon

Aaron Rome - Sergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Dan Ellis

Scratched: Kevin Connauton

Injured: Stephane Robidas (leg)

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