After a 5-4 loss to the Nashville Predators last night the Dallas Stars will shift their attentions away from one bad memory, only to focus on another as their 1-15-2 record on the second night of back-to-backs over the last two seasons rears its ugly head once again.
The Stars carried a 4-3 lead into the third period last night after a wild second that saw them score four goals in short order before the oft-earned penalty trouble returned momentum to the home team.
"We just didn't have a good feel for the game after we were up 4-2," Gulutzan explained. "We needed to stay disciplined after the [Nashville] double minor for high sticking. They are going to look for something on you. You can't give up a five-on-three. You can't take that penalty. We just didn't have game feel. We let them in, and got them excited."
The pleasantly frank admission that NHL benches expect "even-up" calls from officials aside, it's yet another contest where the Stars allowed penalty trouble to de-rail an otherwise positive effort, and they never recovered.
Columbus, meanwhile, enters comes into this one after a 1-0 loss at Chicago Sunday, and glad to be back at home after a 1-5-0 road trip that swung through the Pacific and Central divisions.
The puck drops on this one early at 6:00pm CST on Fox Sports Southwest PLUS.
The good news for the Stars last night was that no one was injured enough to miss tonight's tilt, so that will allow Gulutzan to massage his forward lines as he sees fit.
"We should be status quo here tonight," Gulutzan said. "We've got some nicks and bruises, but I don't think anything that would keep anyone out of the lineup."
Matt Fraser scored his first NHL goal last night and seemed to settle in following that. Will he play back to back, or will the fresh legs of Roussel be a better fit there?
With only six healthy defensemen on the trip after Carl Sneep was sent back, there's little mystery on that front.
There was no word from Glen Gulutzan last night on the status of Kari Lehtonen going forward, so the assumption is that he will not be ready, and that Richard Bachman will likely get the start. With a full morning skate unlikely tomorrow details may be hard to come by, but certainly you'd expect Bachman and Lehtonen to be on the ice and maybe a few others, so we'll see what comes down from Mike Heika and company.
Either way, the netminding has to be better for this team to put some wins together.
The Blue Jackets:
Columbus frustrated the Stars over and over again in this building on January 28th, taking Dallas down by a score of 2-1, and they have the ability to do it again. Believe that.
The Jackets might have a poor record, but their play is stingy and it is difficult. They beat the Red Wings last week. They held Chicago to a single goal and out-shot them (that's saying something). They held St. Louis to two. They held the Kings to two. They beat the Sharks 6-2. They out-shot the Oilers 40-14 at home.
So there's something there, but they've not been able to put it all together. Enter the Stars on the second night of a back-to-back and it wouldn't surprise many to see the home team build on their stout play of late, claiming a victory to begin this homestand.
In goal they've had decent performances from both Bobrovsky and Steve Mason, most notably from Mason Sunday as he held the Blackhawks to a single tally, so it will be interesting to see who the Stars face opposite Bachman. Or Nilstorp. Or Lehtonen.
They'll be without Jack Johnson. Given the dearth of Blue Jackets news or analysis on the internet, I give you the press release...
Johnson has a goal and seven assists in 17 games this year while averaging over 26 minutes on the ice per game. He sustained an upper-body injury in Saturday night's 2-1 loss at St. Louis. He will be evaluated further by club doctors after the Blue Jackets return to Columbus at the end of a six-game road trip Sunday night at Chicago.
The 20-year-old Johansen has two assists in 10 games with the Blue Jackets this season and has totaled nine goals and 14 assists in 77 career NHL games with Columbus.
They've also recalled 23 year-old Cody Goloubef from Springfield, and he could play on defense, having already scored a goal for Columbus in their 6-2 rout of San Jose.