Semyon Varlamov stopped both shots he faced in the shootout, and the Colorado Avalanche held off the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Saturday to move ahead of the Sharks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Colorado and Phoenix both have 76 points, one more than the Sharks and two more than Los Angeles and Calgary.

This is a pivotal stretch for the Avalanche, which has one more home game before venturing out on the road for three straight. The Avalanche entered the day in the thick of the Western Conference postseason chase, a point back for the last spot.

"To be in the mix, that's a good thing," said Milan Hejduk, who led off the shootout by sending a shot over the shoulder of Nikolai Khabibulin before Peter Mueller soon followed with a similar shot. "We only have 12 games left, so it's going to be tough to get in, but I think we have the team to do it."

Varlamov is 7-0 in shootouts this season and has allowed just two goals in 21 attempts.

"I think we feel pretty confident going to OT and shootouts," said Hejduk, whose team improved to 13-4 in games that go beyond regulation. "The more you win, the more confidence you build, I guess."

Cody McLeod and Mueller added goals in regulation for the surging Avalanche, which has won seven of its past 10 games.


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Stars 2, Ducks 0: Brenden Morrow scored a power-play goal in his return from an 18-game injury absence, Kari Lehtonen made 21 saves for his 20th career shutout, and Dallas stretched its winning streak to five games.

Morrow, the Stars' captain, had been out with neck and shoulder stiffness. Morrow skated on the left side of a line with Jamie Benn and Steve Ott. He scored his ninth goal of the season at 2:37 of the second period, converting Benn's centering pass just as a 5-on-3 Stars power play expired. Ott also assisted on the goal.

Blues 4, Blue Jackets 1: Brian Elliott made 21 saves, and St. Louis tied a franchise record with its 29th home victory of the season.

St. Louis is an NHL-best 29-4-4 at home with four games left. The Blues went 29-7-4 at home in 1980-81.

Elliott lowered his NHL-best goals-against average to 1.61.

Predators 3, Red Wings 2: Andrei Kostitsyn was assisted by his brother, Sergei, on a pair of power-play goals to lead Nashville.

Pekka Rinne made 35 saves for his 38th win of the season. Joey MacDonald stopped 17 shots for Detroit.

Penguins: Sidney Crosby ruled himself out for Sunday's game against Boston but is optimistic he could play for the first time since early December when the team travels to play the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers on Thursday.

The 24-year-old former MVP practiced with his teammates on Saturday but feels he needs a few more days of mixing it up with them before donning his familiar No. 87 for the first time since concussion-like symptoms resurfaced following a loss to the Bruins on Dec. 5.