Jamie Benn came up with two goals and an assist in Colorado Monday night to stop the bleeding for Dallas, who now travel to Edmonton in search of bringing their 4-5-1 record up to .500 on the year. Edmonton, meanwhile, took Vancouver to overtime in their last contest before just coming up short.
The Stars unveiled a new look to their line combinations in Denver with Benn and Derek Roy finally on the ice in the same night, and barring any last second injury news, appear able to keep the same formula from one game to the next for one of the first times all season long.
"We need consistency, not only in our play but in our lineup and letting guys play and jell together," Gulutzan told media in Colorado Tuesday. "I like the way the balance is on our lines right now."
Dallas went 4-0 against the Oilers last season. According to Stars PR, "The Stars have won nine of the last 10 tilts between the two clubs, including four of the past five meetings at Rexall Place. Dallas has earned points in 17 of their last 20 games against Edmonton (15-3-2)."
The Oilers have been good to Dallas over the years, but with the maturation of their many top-tier prospects at hand, and the much improved goaltending of Devan Dubnyk, is that time at an end?
Puck drop is tonight at 9:00pm on Fox Sports Southwest PLUS.
The Stars stayed the night in Denver after their 3-2 win over the Avalanche, and practiced locally before flying to Edmonton Tuesday afternoon. They'll fly home after this one for a game with the Ducks, and then right back to Edmonton a couple of days later to complete two of three at Rexall.
For once in this section of the game preview, there may not be any changes to the Stars' lineup to discuss. Through Tuesday afternoon the team is reportedly healthy, and the lines should look much the same as Monday.
Ryder and Vincour flip-flopped as the game wore on in Colorado, so we'll keep an eye on that situation. The Roy line seemed to generate more offense, or at least zone time, with Vincour, though it was Ryder there when that line drew the penalty that led to the extra-attacker game winner.
Tom Wandell or Ryan Garbutt could come back in, but it's likely Gulutzan will try to build continuity and keep things the same. The Eakin line was awarded close to nine minutes at even strength, compared to about seven for the Fiddler trio - So the "third" and "fourth" line designations hold up for now.
Though Dallas did finally find some offense on the road Monday night, their power play in away contests is 1 for 21 on the season. Factor in that Edmonton is averaging two power play goals per game at home this season, and winning the special teams battle tonight will be a challenge.
Expect the defense to look the same, with Philip Larsen watching:
Kari Lehtonen should be in net for the next three, until the back-to-back situation in Calgary.
Oiler fans would tell you the team enters this one looking to break a three-game losing streak, but the details are more interesting than that.
They've taken San Jose, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Vancouver (twice) to overtime or a shootout this season. They've limited their opponent to two regulation goals or less in six of their first nine games (earning points in every one of them). For a team that is perceived to be all about their young guns, their shaky goaltending and their power play, that is an impressive message sent to the conference.
Their offense, surprisingly, has been lacking coming into this one. They've been held to seven total goals in their last four games, though three of those contests were on the road. They're led in points by center Sam Gagner (10), Taylor Hall (9), Jordan Eberle (7) and rookie Nail Yakupov (7). Yakupov has been the focus of much media attention as he continues to impress, leading Edmonton with 5 goals on the year, but also carries a team worse -6 rating in just nine games.
The big news in Oiler-land this week is a recent injury to center Shawn Horcoff, though he's recorded just a goal and an assist on the season. At 52% he has been one of their better faceoff takers, along with Eric Belanger (52.7%) who is also out for this one. It's an opportunity for Jamie Benn and Cody Eakin to improve on poor performances on the dot Monday.
You can read a thorough discussion of the Oilers' faceoff dilemma here at the Edmonton Journal.
Their projected lines for the Vancouver game Monday started out as:
Devan Dubnyk should be in net, and he is surprising as one of the stronger goalies in the league with a .925 save percentage, and has been forced to make 273 saves on the year - the most in the league entering play Tuesday night.
Mark Fistric left their last game with a suspected back injury. His status for this one as of Tuesday afternoon/evening is unknown. Without Horcoff they recalled Mark Arcobello from OKC. So they could shuffle Lander around and play the rookie Arcobello, who has been great as a point-per-game guy with the Barons this year at the AHL level.
The excellent folks at the Edmonton Journal note that Edmonton has given up (slightly, slightly) more chances against than they've generated this year, but are shooting at a percentage far lower than the league-wide average. The Stars will have to hope those luck dragons don't come home to roost (They're imaginary, I can have them roost if I want to) tonight and take a course correcting bounce the Oilers' way.