With a huge 7-4 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, the Stars grabbed total control of their own destiny.

Dallas (107 points) is five points ahead of Colorado (102 points) for first place in the Central Division with four games remaining. If Dallas can take care of business in home games against Buffalo, Winnipeg, Seattle and St. Louis and pick up two wins, it will win the Central Division and get the top seed in the first round. If it finishes ahead of Vancouver, it could have home ice throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs.

Now that’s getting ahead of things, but it’s also a great motivator as Dallas tries to finish the regular season strong.

“We’ve played great all year and been very consistent,” said defenseman Thomas Harley, who had three assists Sunday. “We’ve put ourselves in a position that we want to be in, so we’ve just got to maintain our focus for the next four games.”

Thomas Harley speaks to the media after the game

Harley has become a part of a balanced defense that added Chris Tanev at the trade deadline. Since Tanev joined the team, Dallas is 12-3-0 and sixth in GAA at 2.47. In that same span, the Stars are second in shots on goal against at 25.4. That’s impressive. Esa Lindell left Sunday’s game briefly with a lower body injury, but returned and played nine minutes in the third period.

Up front, the Stars have been one of the most balanced teams in the league. Tyler Seguin has been battling a lower body injury. He missed Saturday’s game at Chicago, but came back and had two goals on Sunday.

Seguin’s line with Matt Duchene and Mason Marchment has been the team’s best at times this season. It also has had some slumps, so playing as well as it did on Sunday is both a great omen and a challenge to the trio.

“We’ll take it, we’ll move on, and we’ll try to come up with some consistency to finish the season,” Seguin said.

Tyler Seguin speaks to the media after the game

While the Stars called up Mavrik Bourque for a game Saturday before returning him to the minors, and also could use Ty Dellandrea at any point, the coaching staff seems happy with the four lines that have been key in a 9-1-0 run. The top line of Roope Hintz with Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson has been one of the best in hockey for three seasons. The second line of Duchene with Seguin and Marchment has come on this year. And the third line with Wyatt Johnston centering Jamie Benn and Logan Stankoven has been the team’s hottest for a month.

“Our identity is our depth scoring and we can get contributions from up and down our lineup,” said coach Pete DeBoer. “That’s how we’ve done it all year and we’ve got to continue to do that.”

Doing it at home will be a little more of a challenge. Dallas ended its road schedule Sunday at 26-10-5. That’s best in the league and also the franchise record for most road wins and points. The Stars are good at home, too, at 23-10-4, and actually score more goals at AAC (3.92 per game). However, they are 23rd in home GAA at 3.16, and would love to establish some good juju at home if they are going to get home ice in the playoffs.

“If you asked us in training camp how we would feel if we were in this position, I think we would be ecstatic,” Seguin said. “We’re trying to take advantage of this opportunity.”

And, to be honest, that just means doing what this team has been doing all year.

“It’s a good position,” Duchene said. “It’s completely in our hands, which is nice . . . it’s what you want. We take care of business and we’ll end up being where we want to be. You focus on the process and you try to get to the level you’re capable of. The regular season accolades are great, but we’re going for the real thing. We have a great opportunity and it’s not lost on us.”

Matt Duchene speaks to the media after the game

Key Numbers

Jamie Benn has 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 22 career games against Buffalo.

Buffalo ranks third in fewest goals allowed in third periods at 66. Dallas ranks seventh in most goals scored in third periods at 98.

Jake Oettinger has won seven straight starts – tying his best win streak. Oettinger has a 1.58 GAA and .943 save percentage in that run.

He Said It

“That’s what he looks like. I don’t think his season was poor, but this is the level we expect him to be at, and frankly, the level we need him to play at if we’re going to make any noise in the playoffs.”

- Stars coach Pete DeBoer on Oettinger’s hot hand in recent games

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

Related Content