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Tuesday, December 16th (All times eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (14-13-3) at Dallas Stars (11-14-4), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Already having the fewest points in the Western Conference, the Stars don't need anymore distractions. Dallas officially moves on from Sean Avery tonight when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes at American Airlines Center.

The Stars made a surprise run to the Western Conference finals last year, where as the fifth seed they lost to Detroit in six games, but have struggled to a 11-14-4 mark this year.

One move Dallas made in the offseason to try and get better was the signing of Avery to a four-year, $15.5 million deal. The gamble did not pay off, as the known agitator was suspended for six games earlier this month for crude comments made about his ex-girlfriends dating other NHL players.

Avery, who tallied three goals and seven assists along with 77 penalty minutes in 23 games this year, is eligible to return from the ban tonight, but the club has already decided that Avery will not return to the team. The details of that transaction have yet to be worked out, though.

Dallas, which has won back-to-back games just once this year, is 2-3-0 in its last five games following Saturday's 3-0 loss to Nashville on Saturday. The Stars failed to get any of their 27 shots past former Dallas netminder Dan Ellis.

Making his first start since October 31, Tobias Stephan was sharp between the pipes, stopping 35 shots for the Stars. Marty Turco had started the last 17 games and is 10-12-4 with a 3.32 goals against average this year. He had a 2.32 GAA last season.

The Stars have won three of their last four at home, where they are 5-5-3 this season. They host Columbus on Thursday.

The Coyotes are also struggling, having lost three of their last five games as well. They were last in action on Saturday, dropping a 5-4 shootout decision to Detroit to end a two-game win streak.

Netminder Ilya Bryzgalov stopped the Red Wings' first skater, but was then beaten by Henrik Zetterberg. After the next three players failed to score, Jiri Hudler beat Bryzgalov, and Chris Osgood stopped Phoenix captain Shane Doan to preserve Detroit's 20th victory of the season.

Joakim Lindstrom and Mikkel Boedker each posted a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, giving Lindstrom two goals and an assist in three games since being acquired from Anaheim. Ed Jovanovski recorded two helpers, while Bryzgalov finished with 34 saves. Doan and Steven Reinprecht also scored.

Phoenix is 5-9-1 on the road this season.

These two Pacific Division rivals have split two meetings so far this year, with each team winning on enemy ice. The Coyotes have won four of the last six in the series and three straight in Dallas.

12/16 10:54:38 ET

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