Much-needed G Dan Ellis now 4-0 at home

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars goaltender Dan Ellis knew on the flight back from Denver he'd be called on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.

His team was playing a home-and-home on consecutive nights against the Colorado Avalanche, and starting netminder Kari Lehtonen faced 48 shots in a 6-2 loss in Denver on Monday night.

Indeed, Stars coach Lindy Ruff needed his backup, and Ellis delivered in a 3-2 victory over the Avalanche in one of the best finishes of the season at the AAC.

Ellis withstood a chaotic last 25 seconds, stopping five shots, all of them at point-blank range. He also had help from his teammates, who didn't get in front of any Colorado shots on Monday night.

The Stars made a stronger effort in front of Ellis, starting with captain Jamie Benn, who had a crucial block on a shot from the point seconds after he was too casual on an empty-net opportunity that would have given the Stars a 4-2 victory.

The end result was a massive two points for Dallas -- and none for the division rival Avalanche -- as the Stars try to work their way into the Western Conference playoff race. The Stars are eight points out of the second wild-card spot held down by the Minnesota Wild, which has played three more games than Dallas.

"Last night we weren't committed to defense," Ellis said after Tuesday's game. "We were committed to winning tonight.

"The big guy plays a lot of games," he said of Lehtonen. "When you get that much rubber, you need to get a break. He had 50 shots [Monday], and he could have given up a lot more goals."

Ellis' biggest save Tuesday came late in a Colorado power play with just less than five minutes to go in the game when he robbed Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog on a one-timer right in front of the net to keep the game tied at 2-2.

"I've seen a little bit of their power play," Ellis said. "He has a great one-timer. So I had an eye on him. I expected a quick shot. I was able to snag it with my glove."

Two minutes later, Dallas’ Colton Sceviour scored on a breakaway for a 3-2 lead. And Ellis and the Stars held on tight for their 16th win of the season.

Ellis is now 4-0 at home. With more nights like Tuesday's, he might give Ruff greater cause to rest Lehtonen, who has played in 25 of the Stars' 33 games.