The Dallas Stars got their first road win on their first try last night in Winnipeg, and now move on to the hated and feared second night of a back-to-back in Minnesota to take on what figures to be a chief playoff-spot competitor in the Wild.
Some of the good and the bad kept rolling for the Stars last night. Alex Chiasson kept scoring. The shots against continued to pile up. The difference was Tyler Seguin, who had a hand in all four Stars' tallies for his first career four point night.
"He really skated well, shot the puck well obviously," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "That line was in on seven or eight great opportunities and did a nice job on the power play. I think when Tyler is skating he makes a lot of things happen."
Skating on the second night of a back-to-back is often times diminished, and against a Minnesota team whose gameplan is hell-bent on making sure things don't happen (sometimes for either side), the Stars will likely find those opportunities fewer and further between tonight.
Minnesota is holding opponents to a league-best 22 shots per game, and held a Winnipeg Jets team the Stars couldn't hold under 40 shots to just 15 the night before.
While it took the Wild four tries to get their first win, they're out-shooting their opponents 126-88, keeping games close, and getting points in overtime/shootout games. Their 1-1-2 record is good for the same number of points as the Stars' 2-1-0, and Dallas is allowing a very nearly league worst 36.3 shots against nightly.
One team has a recipe that will probably start yielding success with regularity - The other needs to straighten some things out. The Wild have the league's best Fenwick close percentage in the NHL - A tremendous indicator of future success and a good reason to fear this matchup tonight.
Too many shots against, one could argue, have bitten them before where Kari Lehtonen's overall health is concerned. Was last night another microcosm of that? Why was he stopping his 21st shot in his 34th minute of play? With Lehtonen being prone to these tweaks after sudden movements, every shot they prevent in front of him could count in the end.
So Dan Ellis takes over tonight after being ambushed with 20 third period shots in Winnipeg, stopping 19 of them in a really nice season debut. That's one of his jobs - to come in unexpectedly and perform. Spelling an injured number-one and playing a road back-to-back are the others, and he'll get a chance to show he's an upgrade over Richard Bachman and Cristopher Nilstorp there in a stiff test tonight.
We'll expect the Stars to use the same lineup tonight:
Gonchar led the Stars with 21:42 and the lowest minute forward was Ryan Garbutt at 12:12, so there's some really even minute distribution there, as against the Capitals, and that's a big plus heading into a back-to-back situation.
Josh Harding is expected to go for the Wild again as Nick Backstrom deals with some soreness in a knee. So it's backup on backup tonight. The Wild are also missing Mike Rupp (knee) and Charlie Coyle (knee).
More from Defending Big D:
- Dallas Stars Daily Links: Stars Pick Up Where They Left Off
- Stars Use Huge First Period To Shoot Down Jets 4-1
- Video: Kari Lehtonen Leaves Game in Winnipeg with Lower Body Injury
- Dallas Stars Looking to Jump Start Power Play on Three-Game Road Trip
- Preview: Dallas Stars Get Back to Work Tonight in Winnipeg Against Jets