Avs shoot for season sweep of Stars

(SportsNetwork.com) - Colorado will attempt to sweep a season series with the Dallas Stars for the first time in Avalanche history on Friday night as the two clubs clash at American Airlines Center.

The Avalanche have taken the first four of five meetings between the teams this season, giving them a victory in five straight and eight of the last nine encounters.

Colorado has never swept a season series with Dallas since relocating from Quebec, though they did sweep a pair of sets as the Nordiques in 1993-94 (2-0-0) and 1984-85 (3-0-0).

Matt Duchene, Alex Tanguay and Gabriel Landeskog have each netted a pair of goals with three assists in the four earlier meetings with the Stars.

Nathan MacKinnon could be the one the Stars need to keep an eye on tonight, however. The young forward picked up his first career hat trick in a victory over Tampa Bay last weekend and then notched a goal in Tuesday's 5-2 setback to the Nashville Predators.

John Mitchell had a power-play goal in defeat and Semyon Varlamov, in his 17th straight start, gave up four goals on 29 shots before getting lifted early in the third period. Reto Berra made 11 saves in relief.

"They put a lot of pressure on our defense," Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. "They were the best team on the ice tonight."

Colorado lost for just the second time in six games and is even with Dallas in the Central Division with 63 points. That has the two clubs at the bottom of the standings and eight points back of a wild card spot.

The Avalanche will host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday and Varlamov could get a night off in one of these games. He is 8-3-2 with a 2.93 goals against average and .909 save percentage in 13 meetings with the Stars.

Berra, who has not started since Nov. 25, lost his only career start versus the Stars, giving up four goals on 17 shots in 29 minutes of action.

The struggling Stars are looking to avoid a fifth loss in a row tonight, one that would mark the club's longest skid since dropping a season-worst seven straight (0-5-2) from Oct. 25-Nov. 8.

Dallas was downed 4-2 by the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, getting goals from Erik Cole and Jason Demers. Jhonas Enroth made 21 saves in his second straight start.

"It's the same story. We dominated play and we hit four to five goal posts," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.

Kari Lehtonen could get the call in net for the Stars tonight and is 8-6-3 lifetime versus the Avs with a 2.85 GAA and .907 save percentage.

Dallas' Jamie Benn has four assists in four meetings with the Avalanche this season and 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists) in his last 12 against them.