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Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars Host Calgary Flames (8:00pm CST)

This is what Jamie Benn did to Iginla the last time the Flames came to visit.
This is what Jamie Benn did to Iginla the last time the Flames came to visit.

The Dallas Stars begin a seven game home stand tonight at the American Airlines Center against the red hot Calgary Flames at a special local start time of 8:00pm on FSSW+.

The Stars are looking to avoid being swept by the Flames for the first time since moving to Dallas (Calgary last swept the season series in 1991-1992). The Flames have won all three games this year by a combined score of 14-8, including a 7-4 win at the Saddledome in January, and have won three of their last four games in Dallas.

The teams start the day tied at 79 points but Dallas leads in the standings due to having played two fewer games. Despite already having lost the season series, and thus the third tie breaker, Dallas can increase their lead in the second tie breaker (ROW) with a regulation victory tonight.

ROW is becoming known around the league as the term for non-shootout wins or "regulation + overtime wins", and the Stars lead the Flames in that category 31-28.

Calgary has won four of their last five overall, and two of their last three on the road. In those three games they scored a total of 19 goals (6.33 G/G).

Dallas is returning home from a Pacific Division road swing that saw them go 3-0-1 including wins in Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Jose. The Stars could finish as high as 4th in the conference tonight with a win over Calgary and a  Chicago loss in Tampa Bay.

The question on everyone's minds, as always, is Brad Richards... Continued after the jump

Word from the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday afternoon was that Brad Richards had returned to Dallas early, ahead of the team while they remained in Los Angeles to play the Kings. He has skated by himself and reportedly will take part in morning skate on Wednesday.

He last skated with his teammates on Thursday in Phoenix and was bothered by the "traffic" and having to dodge others. This setback caused him to not travel with the team up to San Jose on Saturday and he has not faced that particular challenge since.

Even if he feels comfortable today at morning skate there is no guarantee he will be back. Dallas has been very patient with the center and want him to be completely confident and comfortable. Playing at game speed without at least going through a couple of practices first seems unlikely, but they won't rule him out officially, so we wait.

Nicklas Grossman will also skate with the team today. He has been out as long as Richards has with a hip problem.

With the lineup likely the same, Dallas will continue to look to 21 year old Jamie Benn to lead the way. Benn has led all forward in ice time since coming back two weeks ago and was the hero of the road trip, scoring with 4.8 seconds remaining to beat Phoenix in regulation and recording shorthanded goals in back to back games in San Jose and Los Angeles.

Lines looked a little like this on Monday, until Steve Ott left the game in the 1st period:


It's a little hard to tell sometimes, because Jamie Benn could be anchoring two lines a night these days. Loui Eriksson also took shifts with Morrow and Ribeiro.

Kari Lehtonen is expected to get the nod in net, though lost his last start to Calgary and gave up four goals, including a shorthanded tally. Andrew Raycroft has not seen action since February 19th.

The Flames have lost veteran center Brendan Morrison to a knee injury for 2-3 weeks. He was their 4th leading scorer with 43 points and a +13 on the year, though, the Flames have won both of their games played without him since.

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected in the Calgary net.