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01/14/2012 6:33 PM EST
Stastny leads Avalanche past Stars
COLORADO 2, DALLAS 1

DALLAS (AP) -- It's not too early for the Colorado Avalanche to
start thinking about playoff positioning.



Paul Stastny scored the tiebeaking goal on a power play at 10:35
of the third period to help the Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars
2-1 on Saturday.



Dallas and Colorado started the day holding down the ninth and
10th spots in the Western Conference, each needing the two
points to climb into the top eight.



With the win, the Avs improved to 50 points, one point ahead of
the Stars.



"We talked about that before the game. They're a team standing
in our way," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "We came in with a
good game plan. We knew it would be a grinding type of game and
we were fortunate to get two points. We know it's a competitive
conference and there's a lot of hockey yet to be played."



Colorado has been especially good in one-goal games, improving
to 16-5-2 in that category.



"We don't have the type of team that's going to win 5-0, so we
need to earn whatever we get," said Colorado goalie
Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 21 shots. "We need to play
well defensively. We know that we have the capability to score
two to three goals per game, so if you don't let them score
much, then we should have a chance."



Stastny notched the winner when he deflected teammate Erik
Johnson's shot past goalie Kari Lehtonen 13 seconds after
Dallas' Steve Ott went to the penalty box for hooking.



"It's simple hockey sometimes," Stastny said. "(Johnson)
surprised me with that shot. I was right next to the goal and I
threw my stick up there and it deflected right in. It's a lucky
touch sometimes."



David Jones also scored for the Avs, who rebounded from a 3-2
overtime loss in Nashville on Thursday night that dropped them
to 0-2-1 in their last three. They are, however, 10-3-1 in their
last 14.



Vernon Fiddler scored for Dallas, and Lehtonen made 21 saves.



The Stars were 3-1-0 in their previous four and were coming off
a 5-4 shootout victory at Los Angeles on Thursday night, but
they weren't able to overcome Saturday's slow start.



Dallas still had a chance to tie it when Colorado's Daniel
Winnik was whistled for high-sticking with 1:18 remaining.
Lehtonen remained on the bench after a Dallas timeout, giving
the Stars a 6-on-4 advantage.



Michael Ryder had the best opportunity to push the game into
overtime, but the Stars' top goal-scorer wasn't able to control
a bouncing puck and tap it into an open net with about 20
seconds left.



"To kill that penalty off at the end was huge for us," Sacco
said. "We really dug in on that penalty kill."



Jones took advantage of a misplay by Lehtonen to give the Avs a
1-0 advantage at 10:25 of the first period.



Lehtonen had skated behind his net to play the puck, but his
poor clearing attempt ended up on the stick of Stastny, who fed
Jones in front of the net for an easy goal, his ninth of the
season.



"I should have just stayed in the net and made our (defense) go
get it and probably get hit, but at least I would have been in
front of the net," Lehtonen said.



Colorado held a 7-1 shots edge in the first period, indicative
of Dallas' sleepy start which could partially be attributed to
Friday's early morning flight from Los Angeles after Thursday
night's game against the Kings.



The Stars were better in the scoreless second period, but were
still outshot 13-8.



Fiddler tied it at 5:26 of the final period, skating from behind
the net and backhanding a loose puck past Giguere for Fiddler's
sixth goal of the season.



"It took us a while to get our legs under us and I think it was
tough here coming off the trip to get going, but (Lehtonen) did
a good job to hold us in there until we could get going and tie
it up, but one snuck in," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said.



NOTES: Forward Tomas Vincour (knee), D Philip Larsen
(concussion-like symptoms) and C Mike Ribeiro (knee) sat out for
Dallas. ... The Avs were without LW Matt Duchene (knee) and D
Shane O'Brien (knee). ... Colorado C Peter Mueller played his
second game after missing 40 games because of a head injury.
Mueller nearly gave his team a 3-1 lead with 4:24 left, but his
attempt from in front of the net was turned aside by Lehtonen.
... The Stars had scored four goals or more in five of their
previous six games.

TOP TEN WAGERS
RK Team
1
Colorado State
2
St. John's
3
Arizona
4
Miami Florida
5
Brooklyn Nets
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