The Dallas Stars lost their third straight contest last night, managing only a single goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Jamie Benn's season debut. Exactly a week ago the Stars barely escaped Joe Louis Arena with a 2-1 win thanks to a huge performance in net by Kari Lehtonen, and must seek a similar result tonight in order to avoid dropping to 2-4-1 to start the year.
When last the Stars began a year 2-4-1 the year was 2008, and the team occupied the Western Conference's basement for much of the injury riddled season.
Penalty trouble continued to haunt the Stars and sap momentum from their game last night as they took three first-period minors, then three more in the second in the span of less than a minute. To their credit they killed a 2:00 5-on-3 and all seven Blue Jacket power plays altogether, but that sequence in the second irrevocably altered the game in Columbus' favor.
As always it is our unfortunate duty to remind you that the Dallas Stars carry with them a 1-12-1 record on the second night of back-to-back sets since the start of last season, including a 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild little over a week ago.
Remember tonight's game is on Fox Sports Southwest PLUS, and the puck drops just after 6:30pm CST.
Jamie Benn's season debut didn't quite go as planned. The big power forward did possess the puck and drive play forward, but the Blue Jackets defended well, often forcing the Stars' top line to dump the puck and chase, limiting any truly threatening chances. Can Benn be even more effective on the second night of a back to back in just his second game, and can Jaromir Jagr keep up? The veteran was noticeably slower in the Stars' first back to back situation at Minnesota.
Reilly Smith watched last night's contest from the press box and Glen Gulutzan said beforehand that he hoped it would be a learning experience for the youngster. He should be back in and provide some fresh legs, but who will come out? Ryan Garbutt seems a likely candidate on the 4th line. Brenden Morrow could be a possibility but the Stars want him out on the power play right now.
Dallas was stuck in Columbus last night due to fog, and will travel to Detroit and play on the same day, though the flight is little more than 30 minutes long. Still, there could be no morning skate and thus few updates during the day.
Expected Stars' lineup:
Kari Lehtonen had another stellar start last night but received no offensive support - It isn't known for sure as of late Monday night but it seems likely that Richard Bachman will make his season debut Tuesday. He made an appearance at the Joe last year, stopping 30/32 in a shootout loss.
The Red Wings:
The Red Wings fought the Blackhawks to a stand-still through 60 minutes Sunday (no small feat), but felt their power play ultimately cost them the game and spent practice Monday working on it.
"We need shots," Wings coach Mike Babcock told media. "I don't care who's getting them. If you look at our shot totals, (Henrik Zetterberg) is leading us with 23, Brunner has 22 and I think (Johan Franzen) has 15. Pavel doesn't have enough." [Red Wings Front]
Detroit is 2/26 on the man advantage this season, failing to score a power play goal in four of five games, including an 0/4 against the Stars a week ago.
Darren Helm will miss the game tonight with a back problem.
"There's no structural damage," GM Ken Holland told the Free Press Monday. "It's just a re-aggravation of an old injury. There's a little inflammation, so he's going to get an anti-inflammatory and take a few days off."
Valtteri Filppula has been wrestling with a knee problem but is expected to play, while Colaiacovo, Samuelsson, White, Mursak and Gustavsson remain out with various ailments.
So the lines could look something like this...