The Stars playoff hopes took another hit on Wednesday night as every game ended in the worst possible outcome for Dallas. Chicago received two points after a kicked puck appeared to not cross the goal line kick started a rally and the Ducks earned an impressive win against the Sharks.
Dallas now sits four points back of Chicago with three games to play and are in need of every single point available to them from here on out, and they're in need of earning those points in regulation or overtime if they hope to break any ties come the evening of April 10th.
The only thing the Stars can do is focus on the task at hand, and that's 60 minutes of hockey against the Colorado Avalanche, who they have not beaten this year (0-1-1). They're 1-4-1 against the Avs over the course of the last two seasons.
Colorado has the second least road wins in the NHL and has dropped seven of their last ten games including six of their last seven, plus they're without one of their leading scorers in Paul Stastny for the remainder of the season. Still, Dallas' recent encounter with Columbus shows how dangerous games can be against these teams that cannot qualify for the playoffs, and the Avalanche have shown resolve recently with four goal performances against the Ducks and Blue Jackets and a shootout win over the Coyotes.
Underestimate a team like this and end your season. It's all on the line tonight for what feels like the 10th straight game, so come out for the final home game of the season and cheer on the boys in black one more time. If they keep winning they have to believe something good is going to happen for them elsewhere at some point.
Continued after the jump...
The Stars will probably not have any of their key injured pieces back tonight but evidence to the contrary pops up every now and then. Some days Adam Burish skates, some days he doesn't, further obfuscating the situation. The only thing I can say for sure is that he was wearing a striking pink tie in the press box on Tuesday night and looking rather dapper.
His stress fracture is the same injury that is keeping Colorado's Stastny out for the rest of the season and one might gather that the standings have something to do with the different ways they're being handled. If Burish is not completely healed then putting him back on the ice might buy him a game or two but the pain will return. Is that a gamble the Stars are willing to take? Is Adam Burish? Marc Crawford talked about Nick Grossman and Burish after an option practice on Wednesday...
"Burish skated pretty hard today. I don’t want to be too crazy optimistic, but he’s getting better," Crawford said. "Grossman did a lot better than we expected so I think he is getting much more positive. That’s pretty much it. Everybody is else is available."
The DMN seemed to think that Burish would take part in morning skate, so we shall see. [UPDATE: Adam Burish will be a game time decision tonight.]
For now the same lineup that got wins in Anaheim and against Columbus will have to do the lifting. Kari Lehtonen, of course, will start in net again. No word yet on how they'll handle the back to back situation in goal but the guess is that Lehtonen will start tomorrow night as well, even if they lose. Until Chicago earned another point, it still wouldn't be completely over with.
Here's the injury report for the Avs from NHL.com:
The Avalanche could be without as many as 11 players against Dallas. Ten are out for sure -- forwards Stastny (leg), David Jones (leg), Tomas Fleischmann (blood clots), TJ Galiardi (forearm) and Peter Mueller (concussion) and defensemen John-Michael Liles (concussion), Matt Hunwick (head), Kyle Quincey (shoulder), Kyle Cumiskey (whiplash) and Cameron Gaunce (finger).
Even so, never underestimate the value of young players trying to impress management and scouts. Everything these young replacements do is on video and will be studied by someone sooner or later. A second period lapse like the one the Stars had on Tuesday or one of their all-too-frequent bad starts could give the Avs all the motivation they need to play spoiler. Beware.
This is the last home game of the season. If you're going out to the AAC, savor it. September is a long way off.