AVALANCHE (38-23-6) at STARS (29-25-13)
Last 10 -- Colorado 6-4-0; Dallas 4-4-2
Season series -- After two convincing Colorado wins, the Stars got up off the mat on Jan. 29 when Mike Modano recorded his first two-goal game of the season in a 3-2 win. This final meeting between the teams carries a lot of weight for the Stars, who are relying on a strong homestand to stay in the Western Conference race as the remaining games wind down.
Big story -- Ten out of a possible 12 points on the Stars' six-game homestand was the objective, but it's now nine out of 10 thanks to a 2-1 shootout loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings in the opening game. The red lamp hasn't lit up nearly enough for the Stars, who have scored one goal in each of three straight home losses after winning 10 of their previous 12 in the American Airlines Center. That has to change, and it has to change against one of the stingiest defenses in the NHL.
Avalanche -- It doesn't look good for the Stars when stinginess reaches a new level. Goalie Craig Anderson already has one shutout against them, back on Dec. 26, and he's fresh off another one Thursday against the Panthers, a 27-save 3-0 performance that tied him for second in the League with seven.
It came, however, after one of team's worst outings of the season, blowing 3-0 and 4-1 leads to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday in a 6-4 working-over that opened people's eyes in the Colorado locker room.
"There was a little bit of a different feeling in the locker room going into (Thursday night)," Matt Hendricks told the Denver Post. "Usually, we keep it relatively calm in here, with guys having fun and staying loose. But you could just feel a real sense of urgency among the boys. We knew we had to play a full 60 minutes."
Stars -- A lot was done right Friday night. The defense tightened up and Marty Turco didn't have to face 40-plus shots. The Stars allowed only one goal.
They also scored only one goal, just missing a second one off the crossbar and clanking more shots in the shootout, pulling an oh-fer there and making one Kings shootout tally stand for a 2-1 Los Angeles win.
"It's not frustrating, it's part of playing in this League," Turco said. "Even though our game was a lot better than it has been since the Olympic break, it's still tough to score in this League. You've got to pay the price in front, which our guys did at times. They did a great job of holding guys up and grabbing rebounds. Sometimes, you got to try to will it in, and I saw that in the third period, that type of desperation, and some great plays, close calls. I don’t think it's all that frustrating, the overall disappointing thing is just not getting two points when we're fighting for our lives."
Who's hot -- Colorado's Paul Stastny has two goals and eight assists in a six-game points streak. His team is 9-2-1 when he scores a goal. Rookie Matt Duchene had two goals in the Vancouver game and has five points in his last five games. Right wing Chris Stewart had two assists against Florida and has 10 points in his last five games.
Injury report -- Dallas forward Brian Sutherby (shoulder) returned to the lineup on Friday, while defenseman Nicklas Grossman (back) sat out a third straight game. … Avs defenseman Ruslan Salei skated on his own after Saturday's practice, but will not make the trip.
Stat pack -- Modano's assist in the Los Angeles game gives him 799 for his career and puts him past Brendan Shanahan for 23rd place on the NHL all-time list with 1,355. … Crawford remains stuck on 499 career wins. … Turco's save percentage in the two games prior to the L.A. contest was a surprising .917 despite allowing seven goals. The trick is he faced 95 shots.
Dallas is 5-9 in shootouts and its 10-for-64 (15.6 percent) scoring rate on shootout attempts is 29th in the League. Its power play is 2-for-18 over the last five games.
Puck drop -- "Since the lockout, it's been this way every year. I think by the time you get to the last 10 games of the season you’ll start to see some separation. This time of the year you know it's going to be a tight race from fourth or fifth place all the way down to 10th or 11th place." -- Stastny on the tight Western Conference playoff race, where nine points separate six teams.