The Dallas Stars
will attempt to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive Thursday night when they host the Colorado Avalanche
in the front end of a home-and-home series that concludes Friday in Colorado.
Thursday’s opening faceoff takes place at 5:30 p.m. from Dallas’ American Airlines Center.
Dallas seemed to be hopelessly out of the playoff race last week when it was in the midst of a six-game losing skid. However, two straight victories have enabled the Stars to move within two points of Chicago and Anaheim for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
The latest success occurred Tuesday when Dallas blanked Columbus 3-0 as a hefty 215 home favorite. Though the win lifted the Stars’ home ledger to 21-11-3-5, they are just 3-5 in their last eight home dates.
The combined three goals dipped below the 5 ½-goal closing total, leaving the ‘under’ 13-5-2 in Dallas’ last 20 home endeavors and 41-36-2 overall.
Steve Ott scored a power-play goal, while Loui Eriksson and Brendan Morrow added empty-net markers to lead the Dallas offense.
Kari Lehtonen, who has now started between the pipes in 20 consecutive games, made 23 saves for his third shutout of the season. Lehtonen is now 32-23-4-7 with a 2.54 GAA and .916 save percentage.
Dallas is scoring and allowing an average of 2.7 goals per game. The offensive mark ranks 19th, while the defensive statistic ranks 15th. The Stars are 15th on the power play (17.7 percent) and 24th on the penalty kill (80.2 percent).
Colorado is just playing out the string after dropping six of its last seven games. That includes Tuesday’s 3-1 loss against St. Louis as a 195 road underdog. The setback lowered Colorado’s road record to a grim 14-22-3-1.
Though the combined four goals slithered ‘under’ the NHL odds, the ‘over’ is still 48-30-1 in the Avs’ first 79 overall efforts.
Colorado has now scored two goals or less in four of its last six games and has yielded three goals or more in eight of its last 10 contests.
Most of Colorado’s problems this season have occurred on the defensive end where the club ranks last by allowing an average of 3.5 goals per game.
Peter Budaj has been between the pipes for most of Colorado’s defensive woes. As a result, Budaj is 14-20-4-0 with a bloated 3.21 GAA and a dismal .895 save percentage.
Surprisingly, Colorado has defeated Dallas in both meetings this season. However, both matchups occurred in November when the Avs were playing fairly good hockey.
The first meeting (Nov. 6), saw the Avs blank the Stars 5-0 as 135 home favorites. The combined five goals slipped ‘under’ the 5 ½-goal closing total.
Two weeks later (Nov. 20), the Avs needed a shootout session to edge the Stars 4-3 as 150 road underdogs. The combined seven goals catapulted ‘over’ the 5 ½-goal closing total, leaving the ‘over’ 15-5 in the last 20 series meetings at Dallas.
Colorado has outshot Dallas 71-60 during the two meetings, with the Avs going 2-for-7 on the power play and the Stars going 1-for-8.
The Don Best Sports injury report lists Dallas right winger Adam Burish as “questionable” with a lower body injury. Colorado has defensemen Adam Foote (ankle) and Cameron Gaunce (hand) also listed as “questionable.”
After Friday’s game against the Stars, Colorado’s season will mercifully end Sunday with a home game against Edmonton. Dallas will conclude its regular campaign with a road contest at Minnesota.