Stars aim to charge up standings, extend Avs' skid

The Dallas Stars' first victory in over a week on Monday may not have gotten them out of last place in the Pacific Division, but it kept them in the crowded hunt for a playoff spot.

The Stars look to make a move up the division ladder on Wednesday evening and hand the struggling Colorado Avalanche a fifth straight defeat.

Dallas snapped a season high-tying four-game slide on Monday with a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames. The Stars' first victory since March 7 gave them 29 points, which has them 11th in the Western Conference but just one point back of three teams for the eighth spot.

Two of those teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes, are idle on Wednesday, so the Stars can certainly help themselves with two points tonight.

Dallas was outscored 16-3 over its four-game slide and was coming off an 8-1 thrashing at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday before rebounding to beat Calgary. Loui Eriksson scored during a three-goal first period and added the game-winner in the third period.

Eric Nystrom and Erik Cole also scored and Kari Lehtonen made 16 saves.

"After our last game we wanted to bounce back and have a good effort," said Nystrom. "We did for the most part and that's a huge two points. We're right back in the thick of things. It was tough the past couple of days, but we're right back in it."

The Stars got a scare when the Flames scored a pair of power-play goals in the second period, but Eriksson gave his club a two-goal edge with 7:54 to play in the third. That proved big when the Flames tallied with 4:46 on the clock.

"It was a big win. I thought we clawed our way a little bit to the surface here. We still have a few feet to go, but I thought our effort in the beginning was good," Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We didn't have the second we wanted, but we stabilized a little bit in the third."

The Avalanche are also looking to right the ship as they have dropped a season-high four in a row and sit last in the West with 24 points. Three of their setbacks over the skid have come at home, dropping the club to 8-5-1 in Denver this season.

Colorado played the second of a three-game homestand on Monday and was dealt a 5-2 setback by Chicago. Gabriel Landeskog scored in his third straight game, a short-handed tally, and Milan Hejduk also tallied.

Semyon Varlamov had 27 saves in the setback against a Chicago team that was out for revenge after Colorado had snapped its NHL-record 24-game season- opening point streak.

"Tonight was a good display of a team with confidence playing a team with little to no confidence," Hejduk said. "This was a different team than when we played them before and broke the streak. We got outplayed, plain and simple."

The Avs will try to avoid their first five-game slide since Jan. 22-Feb. 4 of last year.

Colorado has lost five of its past seven against Dallas, including a 3-2 home setback on Feb. 4. Jamie Benn scored twice for the Stars and Lehtonen made 29 saves.

P.A. Parenteau and Hejduk each posted a goal for the Avalanche, while Varlamov gave up all three goals on 26 shots.

Dallas has won two straight and three of its last four in Colorado.