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Stars return home to host Avs

by Deborah Francisco

AVALANCHE (23-20-2) at STARS (24-17-1)


Last 10: Colorado 6-3-1, Dallas 5-5-0

Season Series: Saturday's matinee will conclude the four-game season series. Dallas has had the upper hand with two victories including a 3-1 win in their most recent meeting on Nov. 28.

Big Story: As far as the Western Conference standings go, the two points up for grabs are crucial for both the Stars and the Avalanche to gain some ground. It's a logjam in the West, with just four points separating seventh place from 10th -- and both the Stars and Avalanche enter Saturday on the outside of the top eight.

Team Scope:

Colorado : The Avs were swept by the Nashville Predators in a home-and-home contest this week, losing 4-1 at home on Tuesday and blowing an early lead in a 3-2 overtime loss two nights later.

Colorado got off to a good start in Thursday's game at Nashville, tallying two early goals, however the Predators came back to tie the game and win it on David Legwand's OT goal. Jean-Sebastien Giguere was sensational in making 32 saves to get the Avs one point.

"I thought Jiggy was outstanding," Sacco said. "He made some real big saves for us, especially down the end there. Basically, we were trying to get it to overtime… He was one of the main reasons we were able to hold on to that one point."

Peter Mueller made his season debut, playing for the first time in 40 games after suffering a concussion.

"It was good to be back," Mueller said, "but it was a tough game. Plain and simple, it was tough. A couple bad bounces but you have to give credit to (Giguere). Unbelievable game by him. We have to be more disciplined and we have to stay out of the box."

Dallas: The Stars are coming off of an emotional victory 5-4 shootout victory in Los Angeles on Thursday night. Loui Eriksson got to play the hero after scoring the tying goal in the third period and the only goal of the tiebreaker -- giving Dallas a victory on a night when the Stars couldn't hold an early 2-0 lead and earning them a split of a two-game trip to Southern California.

"It was an important win for us," Eriksson said. "We came back, and it was a big two points for us. We found a way to stick with it. All the guys worked really hard, and Kari was excellent for us. It was just a solid game."

Lehtonen made 37 saves as the Stars won for the fourth time in six games. They hope to carry that momentum into Saturday.

"I thought it was a tremendous hockey game," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "It was really exciting and fast through 65 full minutes. You play a game like this, you can only get better. When you put it on the line and you have some success, you can get some carryover. So it was an important game for us."

Who's Hot: Gabriel Landeskog notched a goal in his last outing and was selected to represent the Avalanche at the skills competition at the All Star Game … Eriksson notched two goals and an assist in his last outing and he has earned at least one point in five of his last six games against Colorado (4-5-9).

Injury Report: The Avalanche will be without Matt Duchene (knee), who is on IR. Shane O'Brien (knee) was placed on IR … Dallas center Mike Ribeiro has missed two games with a lower-body injury, Defenseman Philip Larsen (concussion-like symptoms) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Rookie forward Tomas Vincour (sprained knee ligament) has missed 16 games

Stat Pack: The Stars are 8-2-1 at home against the Avalanche since losing to them in the 2006 Western Conference quarterfinals.

Puck Drop: American Airlines Center is gearing up for a double-header of Stars/Mavericks on Saturday. The Stars will hit the ice at 2 p.m. CT, while the Mavericks are set to tip off at 8 p.m. The conversion from ice to wood takes approximately 1 1/2 to two hours and requires a crew of more than 250 people to complete the process. The fastest recorded conversion at AAC took 1 hour, 21 minutes.

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