Stars looking to finish strong

Dallas (35-35-10) at Colorado (32-44-3), 9:00 p.m. EDT

DENVER (AP) — The Dallas Stars joined the Colorado Avalanche on
the list of Western Conference teams eliminated from postseason
contention over the weekend.

Missing the playoffs for just the second time in 12 years,
however, won’t keep the Stars from trying to finish the season

The Stars, relying on some of their young talent as they close
out 2008-09, visit the conference-worst Avalanche on Thursday

Dallas (35-35-10) was eliminated from playoff contention
Saturday night despite a 5-4 win over St. Louis. The Stars had
made it to the postseason in 10 of the last 11 seasons, and they
came within two games of advancing to the Stanley Cup finals
last spring.

Though it’s been a frustrating and injury-plagued season for
Dallas, the Stars are hoping to end it on a high note by turning
to some of their younger players down the stretch.

The revamped roster didn’t bring the team a victory in its last
game Tuesday night, as Dallas fell 3-1 at Minnesota. Rookie
winger Fabian Brunnstrom scored the Stars’ goal for his third
point in as many games, but Dallas gave up two power-play goals
while getting outshot 17-9 in the second period.

“Some of our mistakes came back and bit us,” coach Dave Tippett
told the team’s official Web site. “We gave them some glorious
chances and they capitalized. We have some guys putting in some
hard honest work, but we are going to need more of that.”

One of the young players contributing for Dallas is rookie Matt
Climie, who made 29 saves against the Wild in his second career
start since being recalled from Idaho of the ECHL on Friday.

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“I felt better out there tonight, I saw the puck well and I want
to continue growing as a player, be patient and stop pucks,”
said Climie, who won his NHL debut Saturday against the Blues.
“I’m extremely competitive and I hate to get scored on. I’m
going to keep showing up and working hard until they tell me I
have to get on a plane back to Boise.”

Climie could get another chance in net against the Avalanche
(32-44-3), who have recorded at least a point in consecutive
games following six straight regulation losses.

Peter Budaj stopped 30 shots in his second shutout of the season
Tuesday night but the Avalanche fell 1-0 in a shootout to San
Jose, owner of the best record in the league.

“We got a little sloppy in the second period, but I was able to
make stops,” Budaj said. “(Sharks goalie Evgeni) Nabokov made
some big saves. It’s a tough way to lose, because we played well
enough to win it.”

Though the Avalanche are at least eight points behind every
other team in the West, they’ve played well against the Stars
this season, going 2-0-1 in the first three meetings.

Budaj, who came into this season with a 3.13 goals-against
average in 10 games versus the Stars, is 1-0-1 with a 1.45 GAA
against them in 2008-09.

Dallas, 1-5-1 in its last seven road games, has dropped three
straight at the Pepsi Center, most recently losing 3-2 there
Feb. 5.

Avalanche winger Milan Hejduk has three goals and an assist
against the Stars this season.