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Stargazing: Mike Modano, Stars Take Down Avalanche 3-2

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Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars and NHL news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

You may not believe that the Stars are going to make the playoffs, but believe this: They will show you a good time at the AAC, so come on out and see some hockey before the Olympic break puts a halt to this incredible run at home. The more the home and road numbers continue to diverge, the harder it becomes to explain, but it sure is fun.

The pack is tightening up once again in the West. Dallas finds themselves on Saturday morning only 3 points away from 13th place and 2 points away from 7th. After the Red Wings won their game last night, 2 points seemed like a must, and the Stars found a way to get it done riding the back of Mikey Mo. Watching the nearly 40 year old best the kids from Denver was quite the reversal of what many were expecting to see. Whether it was the back to back situation or the change in venue, the Avalanche speed that preempted every Dallas effort on Sunday was not as effective five days later. The Stars took advantage.

Brandon said it last night, but it's worthy of repetition: How about that Morrow/Benn/Ott combination? On paper, given Benn's extreme inexperience at center, and the similarities of Ott and Brenden's offensive games, I would have called that a less than stellar idea a week ago. With that line leading the charge, and Modano as effective as he was (in only 13:40 of ice time!), the Stars had a balanced attack that allowed for the very rare combination of the Richards line having a bad night (-4 altogether) and Dallas still winning the game.

With Jamie Benn whiffing on that puck twice to start the game, some posts hit, and several other rebounds inches away from being buried behind Anderson, I thought Dallas could have had much more but the Avs defense did a nice job of clearing out some of those pudgy leavings. The missed opportunities are easier to take when Alex Auld is at the other end making sure the game stays close. Surely he's earned another start against the Dave Tippetts on Sunday, right?

By the way, that sound you hear...that gnashing of teeth? That's the sound of a job well done once again by Steve Ott, who is finding a nice balance to his game.

Follow the jump for all the quotes and reaction to another home win in Big D...

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As always when playing the Avs, Mile High Hockey has everything Colorado:

Well Mr. Anderson, there wasn't much more that you could have done. You stood on your head, sprawled on your back, but it still wasn't enough on this night. A bad bounce. A rebound your team couldn't clear ended up in the net for the game winner. All this equals you being on the losing end.

Neither team wasted anytime getting on the scoreboard tonight. I honestly saw this type of game coming. After one of the most boring games I have ever watched, and most of the Avs have played in, I knew that the Avs were going to come out and get the offensive game going.

This also didn't look like the Dallas team that played the other night in Denver. This team came out with lots of energy and dictating the play. Just under 4 minutes into the 1st period, Jaime Benn tipped a hard shot by Steve Ott just over the outstretched pad of Craig Anderson. That was Benn's 10th goal of the season.

What I found interesting about that up and down game the Avs wanted to play was that the Stars looked interested in playing it too. Gone was the physicality the Stars showcased all game long against Calgary the other night. I thought getting into a skating war with the Avs would spell death, but last night. Brenden Morrow and Steve Ott finally did pick up the hitting game late in the third and it was an important part of protecting that one goal lead.

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Mike Heika tries to figure out what it is about Alex Auld:

Which brings us to Alex Auld.

I don't know what he is doing back there that's helping the Stars, but he's doing it. Maybe it's just because they are at home. Maybe it's because he stops the pucks he should stop. I honestly don't know, but as long as he is doing it, he needs to stay in net. The Stars right now look like a confident team in front of him, and he looks like a confident goalie behind them. That's pretty much the key to goaltending right there.

Anyway, Dave Tippett comes in on Sunday. We'll see just how magic this building really holds.

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Mark Stepneski points out that the Avs were down to 10 forwards by the end of the game...

Colorado dressed seven defensemen and then lost center Ryan Stoa early in the game, so they were down to ten forwards, so they were basically a three-line team. I thought they started to look a little fatigued early in the third period and it wasn’t long after that Modano scored and then Morrow nailed Kyle Cumiskey with a big hit. The Avs appeared to be on their heels, but give them credit for hanging around it and creating some chances.

It was a big win (they all are at this point) because it helped them keep pace in the West. It’s tight right now. Not as tight as the East, where two points separate 6th from 13th. But the West has gotten much tighter in the past few weeks. Only five points separate 7th from 13th and the Stars are only two points out of a playoff spot right now thanks to this 5-2-0 run. It’s a dogfight and it continues Sunday when Dave Tippett and his Phoenix Coyotes come to town. The Stars will be shooting for that elusive three-game winning streak.

There seems to a running theme in the heads of everyone opining on the Stars, and that's "Yeah....but the Coyotes are coming, so..."

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The Denver Post knows it was Mike Modano's night...

DALLAS — Mike Modano's career is winding down, and the national team veteran wasn't selected for the 2010 U.S. Olympic squad. Yet the Dallas center still has most of his trademark speed and gas left in his tank.

Modano was credited with two goals, with the game-winner at 7:01 of the third period, as the Stars beat the Avalanche 3-2 on Friday night at the the American Airlines Center.

The game was tied 2-2 entering the final 20 minutes, after Avalanche winger T.J. Galiardi got the only goal of the second period at 10:56.

Mike Modano just wants to win hockey games, but I like to think the name Brian Burke popped into his head at some point last night.

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NHL.com has a few Avalanche player-man quotes:

"They play a hard-nosed game here," Anderson said. "They have their fans behind them and have a lot of energy here. Obviously, they played a lot more physical tonight than a couple of nights ago."

"He's still a dangerous player," Colorado center Paul Stastny said. "He has an unbelievable release and still has one of the best shots. He's still a threat out there and it showed tonight."

"I think overall it was an average game for us," coach Joe Sacco said.

The American Airlines Center isn't exactly the Bell Center or anything, but it's nice to hear other players say nice things about our building. Of course these are the Avs, who had trouble drawing 11,000 when the Stars were there on Sunday. The Stars are filling their building to over 93% this season, while Colorado sits at 76%

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Quotes: (Dallasstars.com)

Brian Sutherby:

"He's making the big stops and giving us a chance to win every night, and that's what we need,'' Dallas forward Brian Sutherby said. "We're going out there and banging and crashing, and putting pucks on net, and getting a couple to go in. It's a good feeling in here, and we've got to keep it going."

James Neal:

"We want to put a run together and get in a playoff spot, and we did a real good job tonight,'' Stars left winger James Neal said. "These points right now are going to mean a lot in the end.''

Mike Modano:

"I've been feeling much better lately,'' Modano said. "I think it's just a combination of some valuable time off that Marc has given me, and just being able to rest up, and primarily focus on the games. Mentally and physically, I've been feeling better lately and it's just a good routine that we've got going on here, right here and right now, and we seem to be playing well in the areas that we've been trying to improve on.

"Time away is good for the brain, for me, at this age. I think I've come back a little refreshed after those days off."

Marc Crawford:

"He's playing just terrific hockey for us right now,'' Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "He's got some real chemistry going with Toby Petersen, we saw that over the last month. Mo is just such an experienced player that when he has a feel for people, he does have terrific vision. You combine terrific vision with some energy and a player that has that kind of skill, you're going to have good things happen. Not only did he get the winning goal for us, but I thought he was a real force on the bench. He's been through these types of battles and he was a calming influence for us on the bench as well. We'll continue to try and get as much out of him as we can in games.''

Hear Marc Crawfords post game audio at Andrew's here.

We'll see you tomorrow for the Coyotes game and hopefully another great Gameday Thread. Keep up the good work everyone.