Saturday, December 3rd, 2011, 7:00 PM CST
American Airlines Center
Opponent SB Nation Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
The injured Dallas Stars limp into a contest against the Islanders looking to secure a third straight victory before embarking on a grueling trip to both California and New York that will truly test them sans Kari Lehtonen, Alex Goligoski and company. The Stars are 4-1-1 in their last six despite playing most of that stretch down five starters. Two points tonight preceding a four day break would be an ideal way to start that trip, to say the least.
Dallas is 9-3-1 at home this season and have earned an 8-1-1 mark in one goal games. The win over Ottawa on Thursday marked the Stars' fourth 3rd period come from behind victory of the year at American Airlines Center.
The Islanders enter on the second night of a back to back after falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout last night but have to be energized by their effort in an exciting game. They put up a season high 41 shots on Corey Crawford and scored four goals in a competitive game ultimately decided in the skills competition.
They may have a .413 points percentage on the year thus far but they've collected points in four of their last five going 2-1-2 in that stretch. They've won two of three and might be gaining a little momentum at just the wrong time for the Stars.
New York has not visited Dallas since January of 2010, a 4-3 win for the Stars featuring DiPietro and Marty Turco in the pipes. The Stars have not lost to the Islanders since November of 2006.
Much more on each team after the jump...
There remains little still to tell for the Stars at this stage of the month. The injury status remains the same so the lineup remains a constant. The only decision the coaching staff seemingly has is who to sub Jake Dowell in for on the fourth line. (Petersen/Wandell/Barch)
Alex Goligoski was scheduled to get his cast removed yesterday so he should be ramping up his rehab fairly soon. A possible return date is on the horizon during the upcoming five game road trip. By the time the Stars are on their way back from the East coast two weeks from yesterday it is at least conceivable that Brenden Morrow, Trevor Daley and Goligoski could all be back, with Adam Burish following soon.
Kari Lehtonen is working out in the pool, so he's still in the early stages of his rehab. The target is still three weeks total but it's a groin on a goaltender (a big goaltender), so you take it with a grain of salt. Andrew Raycroft is making believers out of everyone so far as a fill in.
The Stars continue to rely on the Fiddler/Dvorak/Nystrom line offensively and the power play broke a 0/21 drought against the Senators. The conventional wisdom says that they're due for a bit of a breakout offensive performance from some of the "top six" types, but they'll continue to scrap for their offense if necessary in the mean time.
"Games are 60 minutes," said Eric Nystrom. "We may not necessarily have had our best legs early on, but we were getting better and better. They scored one, but there was still plenty of time left and we popped a couple of late ones. That's the character we have on our team. We are never going to give up until that final buzzer goes. We've won games like this and this is just another example of it."
The Stars get a badly needed four day rest after this one to recharge before the big five game road swing on both coasts.
New York owns the NHL's fourth worst points percentage after last nights' game in Chicago at .413 through 23 games and they score the fewest goals per game in the NHL at a scant 2.04. Yet you look at that game last night against the Blackhawks that saw them put up a season high 41 shots en route to four goals a shootout loss and you have to respect the capability and the potential. Like Ottawa, like Colorado, like so many teams the Stars have played lately, this is a young roster with talent that can skate. The Stars have to be wary, no matter what the records say. That they're playing on the second half of a back to back means little to a team like this. (They've won their only back-to-back contest this year against the Devils.)
The Islanders scored two power play goals against the Blackhawks last night but like the Stars they boast mediocre numbers on both specialty units. Their 80.7% penalty kill is 23rd in the league. They recently gave up a power play goal in nine out of ten games (November 5th - November 25th).
Al Montoya played well for the Islanders last night to keep them in the second period so it stands to reason that Rick DiPietro could start tonight in Dallas with the back to back situation. DiPietro is 2-2-3 this year with a .885 save percentage and a 3.44 GAA.
Watch out for John Tavares, who Islander fans are calling snake bitten right now, and that's even when he gets a couple of points like he did last night. [Lighthouse Hockey]
The Islander lineup as of late, or something close to it...