DENVER – The Dallas Stars kept their post-season drive going to the last game.
Mike Ribeiro had a goal and an assist, Brenden Morrow and Loui Eriksson also scored and the Stars stayed alive in the playoff race with a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.
“We keep the dream alive and keep believing we can get in there,” Ribeiro said.
Kari Lehtonen had 15 saves for the Stars.
Dallas has 95 points and trails Chicago by two points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with one game remaining for each team Sunday. The Stars can earn the eighth seed with a regulation or overtime win against Minnesota and a regulation loss by the Blackhawks to Detroit.
“We now have a meaningful game on Sunday,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “It’s going to take every single point we can muster to get into the playoffs. We’re anxious to get to Minnesota and play the game.”
Dallas has won four straight—including two over Colorado on consecutive nights.
“We’re still going to need somebody to do us a favour, but we’ve got to take care of our game first,” Morrow said.
Brandon Yip had two goals, Jonas Holos two assists and Peter Budaj made 25 saves for the Avalanche, assured of finishing with their lowest point total since moving to Colorado in 1995.
Before the game, Colorado defenceman Adam Foote announced that he will retire at the end of the season. Foote, the captain for the last two seasons, has missed the last 12 games with a leg injury but hopes to play in the season finale Sunday against Edmonton.
“It’s going to be exciting, especially with Footie’s last game,” Yip said.
Foote spent 17 of his 19 seasons with the Quebec/Colorado franchise and was part of Stanley Cup championships in 1996 and 2001. He is the last player on the team to have been a member of the Nordiques.
Ribeiro started the scoring with his 19th goal midway through the first period. Eriksson made it 2-0 when Brad Richards fed him from behind the net, and Eriksson one-timed for his 27th goal of the season.
The Avalanche cut the lead to 2-1 when Yip scored a short-handed goal with 6:52 left in the second period. Colorado had just five shots midway through the second period and tied a season low with 17 shots for the game.
“It was tough for me because I didn’t get much work. There was nothing going on in the first period,” Lehtonen said. “It’s hard to get into the game when there’s no shots. I saw a couple in the second and third. The puck was at the other end so much.”
The Stars got their two-goal cushion back when Morrow scored his team-leading 32nd goal 40 seconds into the third, but Yip got this second goal of the game and 12th of the season with 15 minutes left to make it 3-2.
Budaj left for an extra attacker with 1:22 left but Colorado couldn’t get the equalizer.
“We battled hard at the end, but we just weren’t good enough in the third period,” Colorado forward David Jones said.
Ribeiro limped off the ice after blocking a shot in the final 30 seconds, but he said he will be ready for Sunday.
“I stayed in the lane, it’s a shot that hit me in the right spot,” he said. “For sure it’s going to be bruised, but if I can walk I can skate.”
Dallas forward Steve Ott took a puck to the face in the second period and briefly went to the locker room and put a shield on. He returned and assisted on Morrow’s game-winner.
“It’s like playoffs,” Crawford said. “You look at playoff teams they have scars, cuts and bruises. Our determination and desperation is showing not on the scoreboard and in the win column, it’s also showing on our faces.”
NOTES: The teams split the four-game season series. … The Stars have not allowed a power-play goal in the last five games.