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Stars-Avalanche Preview

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche
Saturday, October 15
8:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (1-0-0) opened the season with a 4-2 win over Anaheim Thursday at American Airlines Center. Antti Niemi stopped 33 shots for the Stars, who received three goals from bottom six forwards and another from defenseman Stephen Johns. The Stars won despite a rough first period that saw them get outshot 17-1 and spend eight minutes on the penalty kill.

"The last forty was more the way we need to play," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "If you look at the first twenty, if you spend eight of the first fourteen minutes killing penalties, some of your best players are just going to sit on the bench. I think we had two players that only had one shift after twelve minutes. It's definitely an area we'll have to clean up. We found a way to win a game. That last forty we were tracking in the right direction, and we did a lot of good things."

Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who missed Thursday's game with a muscle strain, practiced Friday and is available to play Saturday. Ruff said he hasn't decided if he make any lineup changes for Saturday.

Saturday's game kicks off a stretch where the Stars will play five of their next seven games against Central Division opponents.

Injuries: RW Ales Hemsky (groin), C Cody Eakin (knee) and C/LW Mattias Janmark (knee) are on injured reserve.

Video: Chance to improve against the Avalanche

About the Avalanche

Saturday's game will be the season opener for the Avalanche (0-0-0), who are under new head coach Jared Bednar this season. Bednar, who took over for Patrick Roy, led Lake Erie to the AHL's Calder Cup last season. Colorado, which went 6-0-0 in the preseason, played its last exhibition game on Oct. 8.

"We've had a chance to review our systems, work on the power play a couple of times," Bednar said. "We put our power plays together this week, and it was important to get some time to practice it. And there were some other situations we got to cover on video and on the ice. It's been good for us."

Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, who has been out with an ankle injury, will be headed to San Antonio (AHL) on a conditioning assignment.

Injuries: F John Mitchell (hip) is out. 

Season Series

*This is the first of five meetings between Colorado and Dallas this season.

*The Stars were 2-2-0 (4 points) vs. Colorado last season.

*The Avalanche were 2-1-1 (5 points) vs. Dallas last season.

*The Stars are 3-8-3 vs. Colorado over the past three seasons.

Statistical Tidbits

*The Stars were 19-7-3 vs. the Central Division last season.

*Colorado was 13-13-2 vs. the Central Division last season.

*Colorado tied for 24th in goals against last season at 2.93 per game but allowed just 5 goals in 6 preseason games.

*Adam Cracknell and Antoine Roussel both had one goal and one assist in the Stars 4-2 win over Anaheim on Thursday.

*The Stars were 0-4 on the power play and 5-5 on the penalty kill in their opening night win over Anaheim on Thursday.

*Stars goaltender Antti Niemi is 9-3-3 vs. Colorado in his career with a 2.83 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage.

*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is 9-6-4 vs. Colorado in his career with a 2.85 GAA and .904 SV%.

*Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov posted a 0.67 goals-against average and .978 save percentage in three preseason games.

*Varlamov is 11-3-2 vs. Dallas in his career with a 2.86 GAA and .913 SV%.

*Forward Mikhail Grigorenko led Colorado in preseason scoring with 4 points (4 goals) in 5 games.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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