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Stars stay alive by beating Avs 3-2

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER – IIt wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy, but the Dallas Stars weren't looking for style points Friday night, just two points.

The Stars accomplished their goal with a workmanlike 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center to keep their playoff hopes intact, though they'll still need some outside help to sneak in.

"We all want to keep our season alive," said captain Brenden Morrow, who scored what proved to be the winning goal 40 seconds into the third period when he drove to the net to deflect in Steve Ott's pass from the corner for a 3-1 lead.

The Stars swept their home-and-home series with the Avalanche and stretched their winning streak to four games, with only Sunday's visit to Minnesota remaining on the regular-season schedule.

"It boils down to one more game," said Morrow, who matched his single-season high for goals with 32. "We have to worry about our game and we need some help."

The Stars need a win against the Wild coupled with a regulation loss by Chicago to Detroit on Sunday to make the playoffs. They will know the result of the Hawks' game before they take the ice in Minnesota.

"We have to take care of what we can control," said center Mike Ribeiro, who had a goal, an assist and won eight of 10 faceoffs. "We'll be ready on Sunday, excited, and we'll play to win that game. It's never easy to come up here, but we battled through and we played hard. Everyone was involved.

"It was a team effort and we kept our dream alive. We keep believing that we can still get in there."

The Avalanche gave the Stars a scare in the final minute, pressuring goalie Kari Lehtonen (15 saves) after lifting goalie Peter Budaj for a sixth attacker.

"It's always (hectic) when you're one goal up and the other team is pressing and they have a guy there that's looking for a hat trick," Lehtonen said of forward Brandon Yip, who scored both of Colorado's goals. "It was exciting, but still I think we made a couple of nice blocks and I was able to make one save there."

Ribeiro, who has a team-leading 71 points, made one of those blocks with his right leg in the waning seconds and he needed help getting off the ice after the final buzzer went off. His lower leg was wrapped in ice as he stood in the locker room after the game.

"You don't want that puck to go through," Ribeiro said. "They just had a chance right before in front of the net. As of late, we've been giving up those goals. I just stayed in the lane and the shot hit me in the right spot. For sure it's not a muscle because I don't have much of those. For sure it's going to be bruised, but I guess for the last game I'll play. If I can walk, I can probably skate."

Yip's second goal of the game at the five-minute mark of the third period cut the Stars' lead to 3-2. Yip moved down the right side and faked as if to shoot before putting a wrist shot that beat Lehtonen to the far corner.

Yip also scored Thursday in a 4-2 loss at Dallas after he had gone 27 games without a goal and 20 games without a point.

The Stars opened the scoring at 10:51 of the first period when Karlis Skrastins fired a shot from the left point and Ribeiro outbattled Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson in front to deflect it behind Budaj, who faced 28 shots.

"(Skrastins) made a good play," Ribeiro said. "He pinched down the wall and he threw it at the net. It might have touched my stick and my foot before going in."

Loui Eriksson made it 2-0 at 6:56 of the second period. The Avalanche was scrambling when Brad Richards passed from the right corner to Eriksson in the slot for a quick shot.

The Avalanche, 29th in the overall standings, pulled within 2-1 on a shorthanded goal by Yip at 13:08 of the second period. Yip scored while skating down left wing on a 2-on-1 rush with Ryan Wilson. David Koci, playing defense instead of his usual spot at left wing because of injuries, was serving a delay-of-game penalty at the time.

"They're a desperate team, but so are we," Yip said. "We didn't get the start we would have liked, but we came back with a pretty strong second and third (period)."

The Avalanche played without 11 injured players, including defenseman Erik Johnson, who suffered a head injury in Thursday's game in Dallas.

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