Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars Look to Bounce Back Against Washington Capitals (7:00pm CDT)

The Stars will try to enter their five day break on a positive note when they face the Washington Capitals tonight at the AAC.

Thursday night was well documented as being the beginning of what this franchise hopes is a new era, so to come out of it with no points after having a third period lead had to be something of a disappointment, to say the least.

"They're angry today, as well they should be," Stars head coach Lindy Ruff opined of his team after a practice he hopes will get them back on track.

Ruff was dissatisfied about a number of things Thursday night, repeating again and again that the mistakes he saw were not things he expected based on their preseason.

"I hate 39 shots," Ruff said when asked of Thursday's total against . "For me there's no excuse for that. Our puck management, some of the things we did with the puck, we didn't do even in camp. Some of the high-risk stuff, you're not going to win games playing like that."

They try to get pointed in the right direction tonight against Washington Capitals team that has scored eight times in two games. Where Florida failed to create odd-man chances while Stars d-men pinched in the offensive end, the Capitals may succeed.

Washington has not visited the American Airlines Center since December of 2010.

The puck drops just after 7:00pm tonight and every fan in attendance will find a victory green t shirt on their seat once more, so come on out.

The Stars:

Dallas had a rough go of it Thursday night in some sectors of the lineup, even as the Panthers played a largely conservative road game, but Lindy Ruff won't change things just yet.

"That would be an early shuffle," Ruff said Mike Heika asked him about a change. "The patience is going to be at a minimum, I can tell you that. I expect more out of some of the players than the type of game they gave us last night."

In other words, they can do better with the lines as is, and he'll expect them to tonight.

The problem could be, however, that they have much tougher group to check than Thursday night with the Backstrom and Grabovski one-two punch the Capitals bring. Cody Eakin's line had difficulty Thursday against Florida forwards and could be in for another rough night chasing around Grabovski if things don't change, so we'll keep a closer eye on usage and match-ups tonight.

With Peverley sliding back into the lineup gradually, or not, if things take a turn as the night rolls on, expect the lineup to look like this:

Benn-Seguin-Cole
Whitney-Eakin-Chiasson
Horcoff-Fiddler-Nichushkin
Roussel-Peverley-Garbutt

Dillon-Robidas
Goligoski-Gonchar
Daley-Benn

Kari Lehtonen should start in net.

Ruff was unable to roll four lines Thursday after Ryan Garbutt's game misconduct and Antoine Roussels' lengthy stay in the penalty box. If the extracurriculars can be kept to a minimum (and they should be given Washington's PP) the ability to roll four lines and find some rhythm could be a positive for Dallas.

From Stars PR: "Defenseman BRENDEN DILLON paced the Stars on Thursday night, notching an assist and adding a shorthanded goal for the third multi-point game of his NHL career. DILLON scored his first-career shorthanded goal Thursday night against the Panthers."

The Capitals:

Washington has replaced Mike Ribeiro in every sense of the word. Mikhail Grabovski has been an absolute monster thus far recording five points in two games - To go along with a -1 rating. Which is to say that he's been a beast on the power play, as has been the entire team.

The Capitals have scored five power play goals already in just two outings, and on just nine opportunities. Staying out of the box will be a key to this one for Dallas.

On the other side of the coin the Capitals have surrendered 34 and 39 shots already, so it might be a bit of a shootout tonight.

The Capitals lost defenseman Jack Hillen to a leg injury after his right knee appeared to absorb a big check from Lance Bouma Thursday night.

Their lineup figures to look something like this:

Johansson-Backstrom-Ovechkin
Laich-Grabovski-Brouwer
Chimera-Fehr-Ward
Erat-Beagle-Wilson

Alzner-Green
Erskine-Carlson
Olesky-Carrick

Neavirth
Holtby

Olesky, a healthy scratch in each of the first two games, is a guess, as a call-up from Hershey could still be made.

In goal Braden Holtby was their opening night starter at the United Center, but surrendered five goals to the champs on 34 shots faced. He tried again against Calgary and surrendered three more on just 11 first period shots. Neuvirth stopped 27 of 28 in relief, giving the Caps something of an ambiguous situation in goal moving forward where fans are concerned.

It isn't so for head coach Adam Oates, however, who said he will absolutely go back to Holtby Saturday night in Dallas. So the Stars could be trying to crack a very motivated nut there.

See you at the AAC at 7:00pm CDT.

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