Avalanche welcome in Stars for West showdown
STARS (16-10-11) at AVALANCHE (21-12-6)
: Dallas 4-2-4; Colorado 6-4-0
: First of four meetings this season. Colorado went 2-0-2 against Dallas in 2008-09, with both of the Stars' victories coming via the shootout. Milan Hedjuk led all scorers with three goals for the Avalanche. Fabian Brunnstrom
and Loui Eriksson
scored a pair of goals apiece for the Stars.
: Marty Turco is still the undisputed No. 1 goaltender in Dallas, but the signing of Alex Auld during the offseason has allowed the Stars to better manage his workload this season and it seems to be paying off for both players. Turco, who is questionable to start against Colorado due to flu-like symptoms, has an 11-8-8 record with a 2.62 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Auld, who comes off a 3-1 win over Columbus on Wednesday, has put up a 5-2-3 mark, 2.97 GAA and .900 save percentage in 12 games played.
: Auld was excellent against the Blue Jackets, making 33 saves, and James Neal
continued his emergence as a star in his second season in the League with a pair of goals. Dallas finished up a three-game homestand and has another one awaiting after Saturday.
"We had 60 minutes of effort, and Alex Auld made the saves when we needed him to make them," coach Marc Crawford said. "It wasn't a masterpiece, it wasn't perfect, but I thought we worked hard in a lot of areas. Our defense did a terrific job and kept them to the outside for the most part. I was really pleased with our coverage down low, the help we were getting from the forwards, the determination of blocked shots and the willingness to compete. We said that's what we needed going into the game, and I'm happy to say we got it."
: Letting a 2-0 lead in the latter stages of the third period slip away isn't how Colorado wanted to head into the holiday, but that's what happened Tuesday when Anaheim rallied for four unanswered goals in the final eight minutes. The Avalanche lost 4-2, but still lead Calgary by three points in the Northwest Division.
"We are still in first place and we know we are a great hockey team," defenseman Scott Hannan said. "When you play 82 games, these things are going to happen. We have to find a way to win these games when you don't have your legs and you're playing in your own end and you have a two-goal lead and your goalie is playing great."
: Neal now has a pair of two-goal efforts in the Stars' last three games, while leading scorer Brad Richards
has five assists during that period. Loui Eriksson
is on a career-best eight-game points streak, registering three goals and nine assists in that span.
Wojtek Wolski and Milan Hejduk each has two goals and two assists for the Avalanche in his last three games. Paul Stastny has a goal and three assists during that period.
: In addition to Turco, the status of forward Jere Lehtinen (groin) is uncertain for Dallas. He has missed the last two games. Forward Trevor Daley
(shoulder) and defenseman Mark Fistric
(concussion) were placed on injured reserve.
Colorado forward Marek Svatos has not played since Dec. 11 due to a groin injury. Forward David Jones tore his left ACL and is out indefinitely. Defensemen Kyle Cumiskey (foot) and Ruslan Salei (back) are on injured reserve.
: The next point for Richards will be his 591st and tie him with Al MacAdam, who played half of his 12 NHL seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, for most career points by a native of Prince Edward Island.
: These franchises met in back-to-back Western Conference Finals in 1999 and 2000. The rivalry may have died down in the ensuing years, but each team is looking to rebound off a rare non-playoff season and would like two points to keep up their solid positioning through the first half.