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Mike Modano scores with 3:49 left to lift Stars over Blackhawks 3-2

Mike Modano scored with 3:49 left in regulation and the Stars tuned up for the post-season with a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. It was his 507th career goal, extending his record for U.S.-born players.

Dallas finished with 50 wins and 107 points to wrap up the sixth seed in the Western Conference, capping the regular season with a three-goal third-period flurry against Chicago.

"Just the win itself and getting to the 50-win plateau, those are things that give you that momentum and that belief system you need going into the playoffs," Stars coach Dave Tippett said.

The Stars had little to play for against the Blackhawks since Dallas' playoff seeding already had been determined. Dallas and San Jose finished with the same point total, but the Sharks won the tiebreaker with one more victory to earn the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

Dallas takes on the No. 3 seed, the Northwest Division champion Canucks, with Game 1 in Vancouver.

"This was not the easiest game to get up for," Dallas' Philippe Boucher said. "We need to play strong third periods in the playoffs and we've been getting them."

With the score 2-2 and the teams 4-on-4, Modano skated to the net along the right side and beat Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin after a centring pass from Boucher for Modano's 22nd goal of the season.

Chicago, which missed the playoffs for the eighth time in the last nine seasons, finished with 71 points, tied with Edmonton for second fewest in the conference.

The Blackhawks failed to convert on three power-play opportunities. Their last one came with five minutes left, but they lost the one-man advantage 54 seconds into the power play when Duncan Keith was penalized for hooking.

We played well for 55 minutes and then we shot ourselves in the foot," Chicago coach Denis Savard said. "But that sums up our year."

Bryan Bickell gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead at 12:27 of the third period with a one-timer from the high slot for Bickell's second goal of the season. But Sergei Zubov got the tying goal for Dallas at 13:36 of the third, notching his 12th of the season on a shot from the point.

Brenden Morrow broke up a scoreless game with his 16th goal at 5:56 of the third period while the Stars were on a power play. Jason Willliams' deflection for his 15th goal came a minute later and made it 1-1.

Dallas and Vancouver split their four regular-season meetings, all ending in 2-1 scores. Much will depend on the goaltenders - Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and Dallas' Marty Turco.

"One thing for sure, we're used to playing tight, one-goal games," Boucher said. "Every shot and every goal is going to matter. Roberto Luongo is one of the best in the league and he's played well against us. We have strong goaltending too and we're going up there with a lot of confidence."

Notes: The Stars were without RW Jere Lehtinen (lower-body strain), C Eric Lindros (groin) and RW Matthew Barnaby (concussion). ... D Trevor Daley returned for Dallas after missing the previous three games because of an upper-body strain. ... The Stars reached 50 wins for the third time since 1998-99. The Detroit Red Wings are the only other NHL team win three 50-win seasons during that span. ...Out for the Blackhawks were D Adrian Aucoin (groin), RW Peter Bondra (shoulder), C Michael Handzus (knee) and LW Martin Havlat (shoulder). ...The Stars killed their last 25 short-handed situations. ... Boucher's two assists extended his career-high point total to 51. ... Morrow got his 300th NHL point.



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