The Dallas Stars ended an ugly losing streak - and a severe offensive slump - their last time out, earning a crucial win in their battle to make the playoffs.
They may have a good chance to make it two in a row Wednesday night when they visit the sliding and defensively challenged Colorado Avalanche, losers of three straight at home.
Dallas (13-12-3) defeated Calgary 4-3 on Monday, ending a four-game skid in which it was outscored 16-3. The Stars were coming off an 8-1 home defeat to Chicago on Saturday.
"It was a big win. I thought we clawed our way a little bit to the surface here, we still got a few feet to go," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We were doing simple things to win the game, our leadership was real good throughout. We have to continue with that mindset."
Gulutzan's team is just outside the extremely crowded playoff picture in the Western Conference, in which every spot from third through eighth is very much in play.
Loui Eriksson scored twice for the Stars and Kari Lehtonen, making his eighth straight start, made 16 saves. Lehtonen did enough to hold off the Flames, who nearly erased the Stars' 3-0 lead after the first period with two goals in the second.
"Every game is huge right now, the race is so tight," Lehtonen said. "It's an exciting time to be a hockey player and we just have to build on this."
Facing the Avalanche (10-14-4) may provide the perfect opportunity to do so. Dallas has struggled to maintain offensive consistency, but Colorado has dropped a season-high four straight while allowing 20 goals.
The Avalanche lost 5-2 to the Blackhawks on Monday to fall into last place in the West, two points behind the Flames.
"It's been a tough week no doubt. But we're the guys that dug ourselves this hole," said captain Gabriel Landeskog, who scored the first short-handed goal of his career in the opening period. "We've got to dig ourselves out of it. We win together and we lose together. That's the way it is."
Colorado had allowed 11 goals in the five games prior to the losing streak.
"Tonight was a pretty good display of one team playing with lots of confidence and the other team didn't. ... Somehow we need to get it back," forward Milan Hejduk said. "We are in the hole right now and we have to get out of it. Next chance Wednesday night against Dallas."
Landeskog has scored one goal in each of his last three games. Leading scorer Matt Duchene extended his point streak to four Monday and has five goals and seven assists in his past seven contests.
Dallas took the first meeting of the season with Colorado 3-2 on Feb. 4 for its second straight road victory in the series. Jamie Benn had two goals and an assist while Lehtonen made 29 saves.
Lehtonen has given up two goals in five of his last six starts against the Avalanche, going 4-2-0.
The Feb. 4 win began a 6-2-1 road stretch for the Stars. The Avs have allowed 15 goals during their three-game home skid.
The Associated Press News Service
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