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Stars-Avalanche Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Saturday, January 23

7:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

The Stars (30-13-5) snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Edmonton Thursday at American Airlines Center. Jason Spezza, Jamie Benn and Jyrki Jokipakka scored goals, and Antti Niemi stopped 23 of 25 shots for Dallas.

“It was a big win for us,” said Jyrki Jokipakka. “We really needed that. We have two more games before the [All-Star] break, and we need to keep going now.”

The win was just the second in the past nine games overall for the Stars (2-5-2) but their tenth in the past 12 at American Airlines Center (10-2-0). The Stars have the third-best home record in the league at 18-5-0.

The Stars are three points behind first-place Chicago in the Central Division with three games in hand.

Saturday’s game is the second game of a three-game homestand before the All-Star break.

Injuries: Jordie Benn (lower body) is out.

The Avalanche (25-21-3) won their third straight game, defeating the St. Louis Blues, 2-1, in a shootout in Denver Friday night. Nathan MacKinnon scored in the final minute of regulation to tie the game for Colorado, and Gabriel Landeskog scored the only goal of the shootout. Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 33 saves and was perfect in the shootout.

“Every game is a big game for us. We are fighting for the playoffs. We want to be in the playoffs,” Varlamov told Altitude Sports. “That was a huge game for us. Big win.”

Colorado is 16-7-2 since Dec. 1 and holds the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Defenseman Erik Johnson, who has been out since Jan. 4 with a lower-body injury, is expected to return Saturday. Forward Blake Comeau, who missed Friday’s game to be on hand for the birth of his daughter, is expected to play Saturday.

Saturday’s game is the first of a two-game road trip for the Avalanche heading into the All-Star break.

Injuries: D Erik Johnson (lower body) is probable. G Reto Berra (ankle), C Ben Street (chest), D Brad Stuart (back) and C Jesse Winchester (head) are on injured reserve.

*This is the second of four meetings between the two teams.

*The Avalanche won the first meeting, 6-3, in Colorado on Oct. 10.

*The Stars are 1-7-3 in their past eleven games against Colorado.

*The Stars are 10-2-0 in their past ten home games and have outscored the opposition 40-20.

*Colorado is playing its sixth back-to-back set of the season this weekend. The Avalanche are 3-2-0 in the second game of back-to-backs.

*The Stars are 8-3-1 vs. the Central Division.

*The Avalanche are 11-3-1 vs. the Central Division.

*The Avalanche have allowed just five goals in the past five games.

*The Stars are 3-28 (10.7 percent) on the power play in the past eleven games.

*The Avalanche are 1-17 (5.9 percent) on the power play over the past seven games.

*The Stars have allowed five power-play goals over the past four games and are 5-10 (50.0 percent) on the penalty kill during that stretch.

*Colorado is 15-16 (93.8 percent) on the penalty kill over the past six games.

*Jamie Benn leads the Stars in goals (27) and points (57).

*Matt Duchene leads the Avalanche in goals (22). Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon lead the Avalanche in points (39).

This story was not subject to the 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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