Dallas (22-18-11) at Colorado (29-15-6)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Denver, CO
Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Sun Jan 24, 2010
  • TV: FSSW, ALT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Following their last-place finish in 2008-09, it’s doubtful most would have expected the Colorado Avalanche to contend for a division title this late into the season.

With red-hot goaltender Craig Anderson’s(notes) help, the Avalanche are a first-place team.

The Avs will seek their first six-game win streak in two seasons Sunday night against the visiting Dallas Stars.

For the first time since moving from Quebec in 1995, Colorado finished last in its division in 2008-09 and fired coach Tony Granato after one season.

The Avalanche brought in Joe Sacco, who has seemed to turn around the team’s attitude while helping it earn 64 points in 50 games. Colorado (29-15-6) had a Western Conference-worst 69 last season.

“We’ve never doubted ourselves. People thought we’d finish 15th in the conference, and we had a bit of a chip on our shoulder,” center Matt Duchene(notes) said. “There’s a lot of people saying maybe this team is still on its honeymoon and they’ll come back to Earth at some point, but we don’t want that to happen.”

Like his team, some might not have expected much success for the 28-year-old Anderson as he was set to play for his third club in five seasons.

Anderson, though, took over as the No. 1 goaltender and has started every game during the win streak. He has a 1.36 goals-against average in that time and allowed two goals in the past three victories.

Anderson just missed consecutive shutouts for the second time in his career in Friday night’s 2-1 win over Nashville, the third in a five-game homestand. The Predators’ lone goal in the second period ended Anderson’s shutout streak at 106 minutes, 52 seconds.

He will be trying to help Colorado win six straight for the first time since Feb. 26-March 8, 2008.

“When you have a goaltender that’s going to make stops for you at key moments of the game that’s going to lift your confidence,” defenseman John-Michael Liles(notes) said.

Anderson could get tested by a Dallas team that’s scored 13 goals while winning three of four. The Stars (22-18-11) ended their longest single-season road losing streak in team history at 0-8-2 as James Neal(notes) scored with 22.2 seconds left in a 4-3 win over Edmonton on Friday night.

“We got a little bit of a bounce, but I thought we worked hard for that bounce. I liked the way our players dug in,” first-year coach Marc Crawford said. “It was a step in the right direction, and to get a road win was a real positive. It’s huge for us. We have been a little fragile in our road games. We found a way to get the victory, and it’s something we can build on.”

Crawford, who coached the Avalanche during their first three seasons in Denver, was beaten by his former team 4-1 at the Pepsi Center on Dec. 26.

Colorado’s Chris Stewart(notes) scored twice in that game and has five goals and three assists in his past eight.

Peter Budaj(notes) made a season-high 39 saves in the victory, but Anderson will likely make his second career start against the Stars on Sunday. He earned a 6-3 victory for Florida on March 28.

The Avalanche are 4-0-1 at home against the Stars since the start of the 2007-08 season and 3-0-2 overall since the beginning of last season.

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Sunday, Jan 24