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Dallas Stars Vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: Stars Need Win To Preserve Playoff Hopes

(Sports Network) - The Stars recently put themselves in a hole thanks to their longest losing streak of the season. However, a win last time out and a favorable schedule the rest of the way could help them overcome their small deficit for a playoff spot.

Dallas begins its stretch run with a visit from the Columbus Blue Jackets, who may be without two of their top players this evening at American Airlines Center.

The Stars snapped an 0-3-3 skid on Sunday with a 4-3 victory at Anaheim. The game was a must-win as Dallas is now three points back of eighth-place Chicago in the Western Conference standings with four games to play. The Blackhawks visit the Montreal Canadiens this evening.

The seventh-place Ducks are also just four points up on the Stars with three games to go.

Brenden Morrow had a goal and two assists in Sunday's win, while Mike Ribeiro added two goals. Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves in his 19th straight start for the Stars, who have won twice in their past 10 games, with the other victory coming over the Blackhawks on March 17.

"We're in desperation mode right now and every point means something. These were two huge points," Morrow said.

Dallas hasn't won back-to-back games since March 5 and 7 and will wrap the season with four games against teams eliminated from playoff contention. Following this game against 13th-place Columbus, Dallas will open a home-and- home set with 14th-place Colorado on Thursday and then visit 11th-place Minnesota on Sunday.

That doesn't make tonight's game a sure thing for the Stars though. Columbus has won four of its last five versus Dallas, including a 2-1 victory at American Airlines Center on Feb. 13.

Rick Nash had the go-ahead goal for the Blue Jackets and Steve Mason made 29 saves as Columbus won for the fourth time in its last six at Dallas. However, Nash missed his third straight game on Sunday and wasn't expected to travel to Big D, while Mason is doubtful for tonight with a lower-body injury.

Without Nash, who leads the club with 32 goals and 34 assists, and Mason, the Blue Jackets were dumped by the Blues, 6-1, in Columbus. R.J. Umberger had the lone goal to give him a career-high 56 points and the forward also matched Jason Chimera's club record by skating in his 243rd consecutive game.

"Tonight we just looked like we had nothing in the tank and couldn't get anything going," Umberger said. "We just looked flat."

Columbus was coming off consecutive post-regulation setbacks and is just 1-4-3 in its last eight.

Mathieu Garon yielded four goals on 21 shots through two periods and was replaced by David Leneveu in the third with Mason not available. Leneveu stopped 10 of the 12 shots he faced.

Columbus will visit Nashville on Friday before ending its season at home versus the Sabres the following day.

Garon is 7-7-1 with a 2.80 goals-against average in his career versus the Stars, while Lehtonen is just 1-2-1 against the Blue Jackets despite a 1.73 GAA.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.