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Stars return home to face Blue Jackets

by Brian Compton
BLUE JACKETS (34-32-13) at STARS (39-28-11)

TV: Fox Sports-Ohio, Fox Sports-Southwest.

Last 10: Columbus 2-5-3; Dallas 2-5-3.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Columbus has won two of the first three matches, including a 2-1 victory on Feb. 13 at the American Airlines Center.

Big Story: They may be a longshot, but the Stars are still alive in the race to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A gritty 4-3 win at Anaheim allowed Dallas to move within three points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"It's desperation time," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. "We've been saying it for a week or two now, but realistically looking at the standings and the games left, we pretty much have to run the table … 97 points would give us a pretty good shot.''

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: Out of the race, Columbus will attempt to play the role of spoiler on Tuesday night, as a regulation win would put the Stars' postseason hopes in serious danger. The Blue Jackets will also be looking to bounce back from Sunday's 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Nationwide Arena. Columbus has dropped three straight.

"We just looked like we had nothing in the tank," said forward R.J. Umberger, who had the only goal for the Blue Jackets. "We just looked flat."

Stars: While it might need to run the table to have a legitimate chance to unseat Chicago for eighth place, the remaining schedule is certainly in Dallas' favor. The Stars have four games remaining -- all against non-playoff teams.

"Usually when you win, you get on a roll here," said forward Mike Ribeiro, who had a pair goals in Anaheim. "There's no more ways to lose. We need to find ways to win and here we did. We got the bounces that we needed. We still allowed a few goals but the way we showed up – I think we battled through and everyone played hard."

Who's Hot: Stars forward Jamie Benn has earned points in four of his last five games.

Injury Report: Dallas is expected to be without Adam Burish (lower body), Nicklas Grossman (knee) and Brian Sutherby (back).

Stat Pack: Columbus has never had a winning record within the Central Division, and won't this season, either. The Blue Jackets are 8-10-5 against division opponents this season with just one game left (Friday at Nashville).

Puck Drop: "You need your fans and it's been packed the last few games, so that helps a lot. To see the fans behind us now, I think it's good. It's nice to see and it helps you get motivated for games and see the fans. But road or home right now, you need to find ways to win. A lot of times you play at home, you get away from what you want to do and I think we did that for a few games, but the last few have been solid for us and we need to keep playing like that." -- Stars forward Mike Ribeiro

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