The Dallas Stars return to the scene of Jaromir Jagr's overtime winner last Thursday as they take on the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall place for the second time in six days. Dallas begins the dreaded three-game trip through Western Canada tonight with Calgary on tap Wednesday night back-to-back, with the Canucks waiting at home on Friday.
Dallas defeated Anaheim at home on Friday to put themselves back over .500 on the season at 6-5-1, but a three day break has seen the rest of the conference catch up, and their three game win-streak isn't enough as they start the day out of playoff contention once again.
Edmonton snapped a five-game skid Sunday night in Columbus, beating the Blue Jackets 3-1, but were out-shot 40-14 (!) and afforded the home team seven power play opportunities in the win.
"It was all right," said Oilers goaltender Dubnyk of facing 40 shots. "It's how some games go and when you're coming off the back-to-back it can happen sometimes."
The Stars will hope the same doesn't hold true for them tomorrow night when they visit the Calgary Flames.
The puck drops on this one at 8:30pm CST tonight on Fox Sports Southwest.
Dallas had a much needed off-day Saturday, and two days of practice (also needed) Sunday and Monday before departing for northwestern Canada. The Stars got to 12 games faster than any other NHL team and subsequently saw their place in the standings fall as teams caught up, and now have work to do.
The good news is that there is no new injury news as of Monday night to report, and the Stars should have their top two lines rolling and in shape as they try to keep up with the Oilers.
Antoine Roussel was sent down to Texas for the weekend, but has since been re-called again as insurance for the road swing. Lines at practice indicated that Ryan Garbutt or Tom Wandell might get back in the game in Roussel's stead, however. The other forward lines appear unchanged. Michael Ryder missed Sunday's skate, but was back on Monday.
Gulutzan told the media that Lehtonen will start in goal on Tuesday, and that they'll take it from there with the back-to-back in Calgary Wednesday night. "This is about getting points," Gulutzan said. "We're confident in both guys here. If you look at the game Bacher played in Phoenix, we're very confident. We're going to take it one night at a time, and where we are."
Edmonton held the Red Wings to only two goals at The Joe on Saturday but mustered only one themselves in a losing effort, but finally ended their five-game losing streak Sunday in Columbus in a shaky effort from which they were saved by their goaltender. Sounds familiar.
It was the third time in their last five games that the Oilers allowed an even 40 (40!) shots on goal, but it was also the first time in seven games that Edmonton managed to score at least 3 goals - A sign that their (puzzlingly) long dormant offense could be ready to break through.
The team's MVP Devan Dubnyk continues to play like a man possessed, stopping 39 of 40 shots faced in Columbus on Sunday. He held Dallas to two goals in regulation last week and will look to do so again, or better tonight.
The Oilers did not have veteran center Eric Belanger in the lineup when the Stars saw them last Thursday, but should tonight, and the lineup they used against Columbus looked something like this...
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Yakupov - RNH - Eberle
Hartikainen - Belanger - Paajarvi
Eager - Smyth - Petrell
The Oilers have gone away from veteran defenseman (and $4M man) Ryan Whitney after Jaromir Jagr made an example otu of him in overtime last week, though many were dissatisfied with his play long before that, and Mark Fistric has re-entered their ranks.
The former Star is happy with this role on the Oiler blue-line, though it seems about the same as it was with the Stars, with healthy scratches mixed in depending on what the coaching staff wants to do. He's grateful though, for the opportunity and change in scenery.
"I give Joe a lot of credit, because he moved me to a place where he knew I would fit in better, and where I might have a better opportunity," Fistric told the Dallas Morning News. "I personally thanked him for that. It's business, I know, but it's more than that to us, so you feel good when something happens that makes things better for you."