The Dallas Stars have lost four straight games, all at home and all to Western COnference teams. They have dropped from 5th in the conference all the way to 11th and for the first time in over a month find themselves out of the playoffs standings. The team has struggled to score goals and Marty Turco has come back down to earth a bit from his incredible play of the past few weeks.
Yet a win today would immediately stop the slide, or at least delay it a bit. A win would put the Stars right back into eighth spot in the West and keep them in control of their own destiny. It's a tall order for a team that is searching for ways to overcome numerous injuries yet Dave Tippett and the players must find a way to play a full 60 minutes they way they played the second period yesterday.
Unfortunately they will be without Steve Ott for the game, who was suspended last night by the league pending a formal review tomorrow. For a team already without Brad Richards and Toby Petersen, losing another offensive playmaker is just another hurdle the Stars must get past. No pity, no excuses, just get the job done.
No word yet on whether Marty Turco or Tobias Stephan will be in net. My money's on Turco.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are now 4-1-1 under new coach Dan Byslma and have found a way to climb back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. The return of Sergei Gonchar has invigorated the lineup and with newly acquired Chris Kunitz already putting points on the board, the Penguins have become a dangerous team once more.
This is only the second time since 2003 that the Penguins will visit American Airlines Center, but it is uncertain whether young sensation Sidney Crosby will play. Crosby has missed the past two games with a groin injury and while he did skate yesterday in practice he remains a game time decision.
Stars: C Toby Petersen (foot), RW Landon Wilson (ribs), C Brad Richards (wrist), LW Brenden Morrow (knee) and D Sergei Zubov (hip) are out. Penguins: C Sidney Crosby (groin) is questionable. D Philippe Boucher (foot) and C Mike Zigomanis (shoulder) are out.
Stars: C Toby Petersen (foot), RW Landon Wilson (ribs), C Brad Richards (wrist), LW Brenden Morrow (knee) and D Sergei Zubov (hip) are out.
Penguins: C Sidney Crosby (groin) is questionable. D Philippe Boucher (foot) and C Mike Zigomanis (shoulder) are out.