The Stars enter tonight's game against the Lightning licking their proverbial wounds handed to them by the Phoenix Coyotes last night. Phoenix played a patient game, defending well and counter punching when the opportunities presented themselves. It was classic Dave Tippett and it worked perfectly against a disorganized Dallas Stars team that could not capitalize on early power play chances and continuously turned the puck over.
The Lightning, meanwhile, won a big game at home last night defeating the New York Rangers decisively, 5-1. The Stars and Lightning played only once last season. Dallas had a third period lead but surrendered three goals late and Tampa took it 4-2. Mike Smith was in goal for the win, but has not played at American Airlines Center since being traded for Brad Richards in 2008. It's uncertain at this point if Smith or Niitymaki will suit up tonight. The Stars meanwhile have some goaltending questions of their own, but for different reasons. Marty Turco was pulled last night after surrendering 4 goals in two periods.
Both teams played last night, but with very different results. The Lightning enter the game brimming with confidence after what they feel was their best 60 minutes of hockey so far this season. The Stars will need a strong start to build some confidence of their own.
UPDATE: Mike Smith will be getting the start tonight, his first in Dallas since being traded in 2008. Still no word on who will be in net for Dallas, as it seems that there are technical difficulties preventing any updates from the AAC.
After the jump: quotes from last night's game and an injury report...
"They capitalized on the chances they got," Stars coach Mark Crawford said. "Our impatience really showed. They got a couple of opportunities because we turned the puck over because of our impatience."
That ended the night for Turco, who had allowed the four goals on 19 shots before he was pulled for the first time this season.
"We all feel like we let him down a little bit but he got the yank," Morrow said.
Michalek capped the scoring 1:52 into the third on a blast from the left point over the extended right skate of Stars backup goalie Alex Auld.
"They were just a better team tonight," Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "Everybody was on a different progran tonight and it wasn't good enough."
I guess no one was feeling particularly loquacious after that one.
Korpikoski said it felt "unbelievable" to break out of his slump.
"You lose so much confidence when you're not scoring," he said. "It's a different game when you get the first one, and everything slows down for you, and you start to make plays with confidence again. It's a good feeling."
In two losses on a Canadian road trip this week, the Coyotes scored only once.
"The whole team breaks through to score five goals," coach Dave Tippett said. "It's nice compared to where we've been the last few games. It was good. Korpy's a guy who plays the game fast, been snake-bit a little.
By the way, attendance for last night's game in Glendale.... 10,691. On Thanksgiving weekend.
Mike Heika tells the tale of Bryzgalov vs Dallas:
GLENDALE, Ariz. – If you're looking for a list of Stars killers, it would be tough to get much better than Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. The Coyotes' netminder was solid again in a 5-2 win Friday. He is 2-0-0 against Dallas this season and 6-1-1 in the past two seasons. He has two shutouts in that span. And while Marty Turco is usually up to the task of taking Bryzgalov to a low-scoring duel, that wasn't the case this time. The Coyotes, who ranked 28th in the NHL in scoring and had one goal total in two previous losses, became an offensive juggernaut to the delight of the handful of fans at Jobing.com Arena.
GLENDALE, Ariz. – If you're looking for a list of Stars killers, it would be tough to get much better than Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Coyotes' netminder was solid again in a 5-2 win Friday. He is 2-0-0 against Dallas this season and 6-1-1 in the past two seasons. He has two shutouts in that span.
And while Marty Turco is usually up to the task of taking Bryzgalov to a low-scoring duel, that wasn't the case this time. The Coyotes, who ranked 28th in the NHL in scoring and had one goal total in two previous losses, became an offensive juggernaut to the delight of the handful of fans at Jobing.com Arena.
Bryzgalov's record against the Stars aside, I thought his team did a great job in front of him last night once again. The insulated him well from any dangerous shots. The difference in quality between the Coyotes' scoring chances and the Stars' scoring chances was astronomical. Marty Turco cannot be faulted for the loss last night.
Coming off their most consistent and most dominant game of the season, Friday night's 5-1 victory against the New York Rangers, the Lightning have gone to Texas to face off against the Dallas Stars tonight in a cross-conference shootout.
Like the Lightning, the Stars were in action last night... But instead of being victors, they were the victims instead; being drubbed 5-2 by the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale, Arizona. So the good news goign into tonights game is both teams have had travel to get to tonight's game. The bad news is one team will be playing to redeem themselves and that makes them extra dangerous.
There's no word yet just who starts between the pipes for the Lightning tonight. Do you start the hot hand in Mike Smith, who played well last night? Or do you start the hotter hand in Antero Niittymaki, who happens to lead the league in save percentage (.932 )? That will be settled in the next few hours as head coach Rick Tocchet puts together his lineup.
Another question is if defenseman Mattias Ohlund will return tonight or perhaps Monday versus the Colorado Avalanche back in Tampa? Ohlund has missed the last six games with an ankle injury, and while Tocchet has said that Ohlund is close to returning, it remains to be seen how close. The Bolts don't need to push it, as they have enough able-bodied defensemen to cover for Ohlund as he heals, but it would nice to get the team's defensive leader back onto the ice.
Expect lots of droning on about Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards history on either broadcast tonight.
Injury report -- Tampa Bay is without three defenseman: Mattias Ohlund has been battling a foot/ankle injury, Paul Ranger has been away from the team for personal reasons and Matt Smaby (finger) was assigned to Norfolk of the AHL for a conditioning assignment. … Dallas forward Brian Sutherby is on injured reserve due to a groin injury.