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Stars looking to finish strong

By Dan Pieringer

Stats Writer

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

strong.

The Stars, relying on some of their young talent as they close

out 2008-09, visit the conference-worst Avalanche on Thursday

night.

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.

"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.

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