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Fading Stars hope to snap slide

By Matt Becker

Stats Senior Writer

Dallas (33-33-9) at Phoenix (31-37-7), 10:00 p.m. EDT

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Two weeks ago, it appeared the Dallas

Stars would earn one of the final playoff spots in the Western

Conference. They've been fading from postseason contention ever


The Stars look to avoid losing seven straight games for the

first time in more than 19 years when they visit the Phoenix

Coyotes on Monday night.

One season after falling two victories shy of the Stanley Cup

finals, Dallas is in danger of missing the playoffs for just the

second time in 12 seasons. The Stars were seventh in the West

following a 3-2 win over Minnesota on March 14, but are 0-5-1

since to drop to 11th.

After managing one point during a three-game homestand, Dallas

plays five of its final seven on the road, where it's lost a

season-high four straight. The Stars haven't dropped five in a

row away from Dallas since November 4-22, 2003.

"There's no time to wait around and see what other teams are

going to do," defenseman Matt Niskanen said after Saturday's 6-3

defeat to Florida. "All we can control is how we play and start

winning games."

Niskanen scored his sixth goal of the season Saturday and Dallas

finally showed some signs of life offensively after recording

seven goals in the first five games of the skid. The Stars

struggled again defensively, though, allowing at least five

goals for the third time in four games.

Marty Turco stopped 27 shots Saturday in his 13th straight start

for Dallas. He has a 3.19 goals-against average and one shutout

during the losing streak, the franchise's longest since December

5-15, 1995.

The Stars have not lost seven straight since November

30-December 12, 1989, when the team played in Minnesota.

Turco has been in net for every game against the Coyotes this

season and despite a 1.56 GAA and one shutout, has gone 2-2-1.

He hasn't gotten much help offensively, as the Stars lost 1-0 in

the last two meetings.

Left wing Loui Eriksson, who leads Dallas with 33 goals, scored

twice in each of the Stars' two victories over Phoenix this


The Coyotes are coming off Saturday's 3-2 defeat to San Jose,

dropping to 3-6-2 since March 6.

Phoenix stayed with the Sharks, taking a 1-0 lead in the second

period and heading into the third tied at 2, but could not

defeat the best team in the West.

"We seem to be playing with a lot more intensity, and our speed

is much stronger right now," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said.

"For us to have the kind of night we had was a pretty strong


Phoenix hopes to bounce back at home, where it's 3-0-1 since

March 17 after going 1-8-0 in its previous nine at


Ilya Bryzgalov, who has a 1.96 GAA in the Coyotes' last four

home games, is 3-1-1 with a 1.56 GAA and two shutouts against

Dallas this season.

Captain Shane Doan, two goals shy of matching his career high of

30 set in 2005-06, has been held without a goal in his last

seven games versus the Stars.


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