Surging Stars visit struggling Caps

( - While the Dallas Stars have being playing well to keep pace in the Western Conference's wild card race, the Washington Capitals have to be less encouraged about their postseason chances.

The Stars look to win a third straight game on Tuesday night and deal the Capitals a fourth setback in a row.

Dallas has won four of its last five games and with 83 points sits one back of the Phoenix Coyotes for the West's second wild card position. The Stars, though, do have a game in hand and tonight can jump past the Coyotes, who host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

Washington also is just one point back of a playoff spot as it trails the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. However, the Blue Jackets have a game in hand and host the Colorado Avalanche tonight.

The Stars are coming off a 4-2 victory over the West-leading St. Louis Blues as Colton Sceviour notched his first career two-goal game. Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel both scored and had an assist, while Jordie Benn and Shawn Horcoff chipped in with two assists each.

Kari Lehtonen made 33 saves as Dallas snapped a four-game road losing streak in the opener of a five-game swing.

"We're not in a must-win situation quite yet, but with the teams ahead of us winning games, we need to keep pace," Sceviour said. "We were playing a really good team in the second game of a back-to-back with travel and it's huge to come in here and get a victory. It feels real good right now.

While the Stars don't have a lot or room for error, Sceviour doesn't think his team is in desperation mode.

"That kind of sounds bad, but definitely we feel like these are games we need to win and we feel like we still hold our fate in our own hands. We've got a couple games in hand, but those games mean absolutely nothing unless we win them."

The Capitals have struggled winning games lately, but have managed a point in seven of their past eight contests. They are 4-1-3 in that span and have lost a pair of shootout decisions over their current three-game slide.

That includes Sunday's 4-3 setback to the Nashville Predators. Troy Brouwer scored twice in regulation for the Capitals to give him 23 goals on the season. That surpassed his previous career high of 22 set with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009-10.

Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists, while Jaroslav Halak turned aside 26-of-29 shots for Washington.

"I thought we played better today than yesterday," Washington coach Adam Oates said, referring to Saturday's 4-2 loss to Boston. "There were moments where we didn't execute, but I thought that as we got into the game, we played better."

The Capitals have lost four straight and nine of their last 11 versus the Stars. Dallas picked up a 2-1 victory at home over Washington on Oct. 5 and has won four of its last five trips to D.C.