Back-to-back victories on the heels of a six-game losing streak have renewed the Dallas Stars' playoff hopes.
Consecutive games against the Colorado Avalanche may help them even more.
The Stars must continue to take advantage of an easy final-week schedule Thursday night in the opener a home-and-home set with the stumbling Avalanche.
Although Dallas' bid for its first playoff berth since 2008 took a hit with a recent 0-3-3 stretch, the Stars (40-28-11) remain alive after bouncing back with wins over Anaheim and Columbus.
The club had totaled two goals during the final three games of its skid, but it got three points from Brenden Morrow in Sunday's 4-3 road win over the Ducks. Morrow then scored Dallas' second empty-netter to help secure Tuesday's 3-0 win over a Blue Jackets team which has been eliminated from the playoff race.
"Very crucial, for sure," coach Marc Crawford said. "It almost goes without saying. It was a huge win for our team. It keeps us alive, it keeps our momentum moving forward. We've now got two wins in a row and obviously start our preparation for our next game against Colorado almost immediately. You can savor these victories, but not for very long."
The Stars still may need to win their final three games - and get help - to catch Anaheim or Chicago for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, but the first part of that equation seems like a possibility considering the schedule.
After facing Colorado (29-42-8) on Thursday and Friday, Dallas closes the regular season Sunday against struggling Minnesota.
"These teams aren't just going to lay down for us because they feel sorry for us," forward Steve Ott told the Stars' official website. "Hockey players have too much pride to give in, even if you're out of a playoff spot. They're playing for jobs for next year, they're playing to impress their scouts and management and they also want to be spoilers. For us, we need big, big games and to continue to find ways."
Dallas has lost five of six to the Avalanche, but the two losses this season came in November - long before Colorado crumbled toward the bottom of the West.
The injury-ravaged Avs are 4-23-2 since the All-Star break, including Tuesday's 3-1 loss at St. Louis. It was the 21st time in 28 games Colorado has scored two goals or fewer.
"We gave everything we had," said Milan Hejduk, who remains tied with Peter Forsberg for fourth on the franchise's all-time scoring list with 755 points. "We created some chances, but nothing went in."
It may not be much easier if they face Kari Lehtonen, who is 3-0-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average in his career against Colorado. He made 23 saves Tuesday for his 17th career shutout and third in his last seven starts at home, where Dallas will play Thursday for the final time in the regular season.
Brad Richards has five assists in his last four home games, but the Stars' leading scorer has been held to one point - an assist - in his last eight meetings with the Avs.
Richards, who has a power-play assist in each of Dallas' last two games, should be targeting more production with the man advantage. Opponents have converted 28.6 percent of their chances - 22 of 77 - against Colorado in the last 21 games.