The Dallas Stars survived 10 of their first 15 games away from the American Airlines Center with a 5-5-0 road record, and now look to build momentum at home starting with a rematch against the Calgary Flames.
Calgary jumped on the Stars early and often Wednesday with four first-period goals en-route to a resounding 7-4 win at the Saddledome, but Dallas enters this one having won five of their last six overall and looking to prove that the the lopsided aberration was just that.
They'll have to do it, however, without starting netminder Kari Lehtonen, who suffered a lower body injury in the first period of Friday's win against the Vancouver Canucks. That opens the door for second-year netminder Richard Bachman.
"If they need me I am going to try to be there and do my best to help the team win," Bachman Friday night following Lehtonen's injury.
The Stars are expected to announce Sunday that Lehtonen has been placed on injured reserve, which will cause him to miss at least seven days and a minimum of three games.
Bachman, likely to get the start in front of the American Airlines Crown today, surrendered three goals in relief of Lehtonen Friday night before settling down and back-stopping the Stars to the come from behind win.
Calgary (4-5-3) enters this one looking to correct the wrongs suffered in a 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues Friday night as they begin a two-game road swing.
Today's action starts just after 5:00pm on Fox Sports Southwest.
After reassigning Jamie Oleksiak to the Texas Stars this week and dealing with the loss of Kari Lehtonen Dallas is dealing with upheaval in the lineup from the back out, but the forward group has been producing consistently since Derek Roy's return to the lineup in Colorado earlier this month.
Since that time Dallas has scored 21 goals in 6 contests good for 3.5 per game, and most of that on the road. The Stars now enjoy three in a row at home and will look to build on a 3-1-1 record at the American Airlines Center, nut face stiff competition with Calgary, Vancouver and San Jose coming to town.
Glen Gulutzan made changes to the forward lines before the Vancouver game, placing Loui Eriksson back on the right side with Reilly Smith re-entering the top-six, and moved Michael Ryder with Cody Eakin. Smith responded with his first career NHL goal and Eakin recorded a goal and an assist.
If the coaching staff likes those combinations then the lines could look like this Sunday afternoon:
It is supposed that Richard Bachman will get the start for the injured Kari Lehtonen, who could be put on injured reserve as early as today. Cristopher Nilstorp was re-called from the Texas Stars officially on Saturday afternoon.
Calgary followed their dominant 7-4 performance over the Stars with a 5-2 loss to the Blues at home Friday night and now embark on a brief two-game back-to-back road trip in Dallas and Phoenix.
Calgary has a .625 points percentage on the road this season, while Dallas is just .500. The difference is that the Flames have played four away games (2-1-1) on the year to Dallas' ten - part of Calgary's "11 of 17" to start at home.
With Miikka Kiprusoff sidelined with a knee injury the Flames had been relying on Leland Irving between the pipes, but will go with former Detroit Red Wing backup Joey McDonald Sunday in Dallas. Irving allowed the Stars four goals on Wednesday at home, then two to St. Louis Friday in four minutes before being pulled and subsequently sent back to the AHL.
McDonald stopped 18 of 21 shots in relief in his first appearance of the season. This afternoon's contest will be his first start since March 14th of the 2011-2012 campaign.
The Flames will ice a slightly different lineup for the rematch with Dallas. From the Calgary Herald:
In terms of whatever happens, happens, the Flames made a couple of curious moves Saturday morning. First off, they slapped centre Blair Jones on waivers (no goals, one assist in 11 games) and slotted snake-bitten Blake Comeau (no goals, one assist in 11 games) on a line with Curtis Glencross and Jarome Iginla.
A natural left wing, Comeau is expected to move the middle.
"I'm excited for the challenge," he said. "I don't think I'm that bad of a player where I think it's outrageous that I'm playing centre with Jarome and Glennie. I didn't think of it as a joke at all."
"I'm not just happy about being on the line. I want to make an impact, and I want to stay there."
Which could give them something like this...