(Sports Network) - The playoff-hopeful Dallas Stars will aim for a third straight victory when they host the Colorado Avalanche tonight at American Airlines Center in the opener of a home-and-home series.
The Stars are four points behind Anaheim and Chicago for the conference's final playoff spots with three games left in the regular season. Dallas has an important game in hand to use over the Ducks and Blackhawks tonight.
Of course, Dallas' opponent for the next two games, the Avalanche, have already been eliminated from the postseason and the West's 14th-seeded club has lost two straight and six of their last seven games. In fact, Colorado has just four victories in its last 30 games, posting a miserable 4-24-2 record over that stretch.
Dallas has lost two meetings this year against the Avalanche, but both of those encounters were back in November. Still, Colorado has taken three in a row, five of six and six of the last eight games in this series overall.
The Avs have lost seven of 10 and eight of their last 12 in Big D.
Dallas had lost six straight games (0-3-3) before posting recent wins over Anaheim and Columbus. The Stars were last in action on Tuesday, when goaltender Kari Lehtonen made 23 saves to backstop Dallas to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Blue Jackets.
Lehtonen earned his third shutout of the season in what was his 20th consecutive start for the Stars. The Finnish netminder is 3-0-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average in six career games (four starts) against Colorado and is expected to get the call again tonight.
"It's always nice when you don't let any goals in, especially in a situation like this when we have to win," Lehtonen said. "I was happy to be able to do my part and the guys did their part."
Brenden Morrow, Loui Eriksson and Steve Ott all tallied for the Stars, who have won back-to-back-games for the first time since March 5 and 7. Dallas hasn't won three straight since Feb. 24-March 1.
The Stars, who are 21-11-8 as the home club this year, will visit Colorado tomorrow evening before closing their regular season Sunday in Minnesota.
The Avs' most recent loss came Tuesday night in St. Louis, as Andy McDonald posted a goal and two assists to lift the Blues to a 3-1 victory at Scottrade Center.
Kevin Porter produced the lone tally for the Avalanche Peter Budaj yielded two goals on 28 shots for the loss.
"It was a spirited game for two teams that aren't going to the playoffs,"said Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco. "There was still a lot of intensity and a fun game to be part of, even on the losing side."
Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles missed the last game with a concussion and is expected to sit out tonight's tilt. Avs centerman Paul Stastny will also be out due to a stress fracture in his right leg.
Tonight's test marks the final road game of the season for Colorado, which has a dreadful 14-22-4 record as the guest this year. After welcoming Dallas on Friday, the Avalanche will complete their schedule Sunday against visiting Edmonton.