Friday, April 8, 2011
Stars keep playoff push alive with win over Avs
By Mark Stepneski
DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars made the most of their final home game of the regular season, beating Colorado Avalanche 4-2 on Thursday night at American Airlines Center to move within two points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Stars have two games remaining: at Colorado on Friday and at Minnesota on Sunday. If they win those two games, they’ll still need some help to get into the top eight.
“The cliché answer is that you aren’t really scoreboard watching, but you are,” said forward Adam Burish, who returned to lineup after missing 11 games with a leg injury. “Anybody is lying if they tell they’re not watching."
The Stars got off to a strong start against the Avalanche, scoring two goals in a 1:35 span late in the first period to take a 2-0 lead in the game. Tom Wandell scored on a wraparound and Loui Eriksson scored off a shot from the left faceoff circle.
“I thought our start really was impressive tonight,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “We actually had a really good first period -- the way we skated, the way we got to loose pucks, the way we turned pucks over.”
Colorado scored the only goal of the second period to make it a 2-1 game, but the Stars regained a two-goal margin early in the third period with a power-play goal. After Ryan O’Byrne took a delay-of-game penalty 44 seconds into the third, Stars captain Brenden Morrow scored eight seconds into the man-advantage opportunity.
“It was a tap-in. I kind of like those,” said Morrow, whose goal was set up by a couple of quick passes by Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson.
Colorado cut the lead to 3-2, but the Stars scored 1:15 later when Jamie Benn forced a turnover and Brad Richards scored on the rebound to make it a 4-2 game.
“Great shift by Richie’s line,” said Morrow. “They got the momentum again for us. We’ve been pretty good at that all year. Mentally tough and when bad things happen or momentum gets taken from us, we’ve been pretty good at getting right back out there and stealing it back.”
The Stars have some momentum going now with three straight wins, but they need two more wins and some other teams to stumble to get in the playoffs.
“You just want to take care of what you can take care of,” Crawford said. “We can take care of our games.”
Stars forward Adam Burish returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a leg injury.
“I felt really good. I felt pretty close to normal,” Burish said. “But the biggest thing is it’s just fun to be in the room, it’s fun to be on the bench with the guys and it’s fun to go through the warm-up with the guys. For me it was exciting and it felt really good.”
Burish played a total of 7:27, most of it on the fourth line. Stars coach Marc Crawford said the Stars may rest Burish for the next game, but that depends on how he feels after Thursday’s game.
“We’ll have to see how he comes through today to see if he is going to play tomorrow,” Crawford said. “We’ve got three or four other guys that are ready to step in. I am quite sure he’ll be available for Sunday, and if he’s ready for tomorrow we’ll play him for tomorrow."
Defenseman Nicklas Grossman, who has missed the past eight games with a knee injury, will travel with the team as it hits the road for the final two games of the regular season.
“Nicklas will come on the trip and he’s a possibility,” Crawford said. “He’s getting closer. He’ll skate tomorrow and he’ll skate Saturday. We’re getting back to a pretty full complement.”
Brian Sutherby (back) remains out of the lineup.