Thursday, March 22nd 2012, 7:30 PM CST
American Airlines Center
Opponent Blog: Nucks Misconduct
The Dallas Stars ended their two-game losing streak Tuesday night at home against the Phoenix Coyotes, and now look to get greedy with the Vancouver Canucks paying them a visit Thursday. A once bad match-up for them (last year, 0-4-0) has become a little more favorable with two straight wins.
With Calgary, Colorado, Phoenix and Los Angeles all in action tonight, and all in striking distance, the Stars need two more points to fend them off and keep the lead in the Pacific. Jamie Benn knows he's being targeted out there in the process as one of the Stars' better players.
"Everyone's looking to get into the playoffs now and they're keying on guys to shut them down," said Benn Wednesday. "I had an X on my back last night. I'll take that if they're going to leave our top line alone, and they stepped up and played a good game."
The Canucks come to the American Airlines Center on the second night of a back to back, and they do so with nearly the exact same experience that the Stars had in their previous game against the Coyotes. Duncan Keith elbowed Daniel Sedin in the second period and that set off a melee and string of misconduct penalties similar to what Dallas experienced with the Shane Doan elbow to Jamie Benn the night before.
Dallas, after having been swept by Vancouver the year before to the tune of 20-5, has bested the Canucks twice this year by a collective score of 8-4. The Stars needed a multi-goal come from behind win in their last home game against Vancouver, trailing by two in the second period.
The Stars had dropped 13 of their last 20 games against Vancouver heading into this season. A win tonight would give them their first 3-win year over the Canucks since 2005-2006.
Much more on each team after the jump...
Jamie Benn should be good to go for this one after a very physical night against the Coyotes. He told media Wednesday that he doesn't like the Canucks, but he likes playing against them.
"They're a good team. I definitely like playing them. They're the closest team to home for me, so... our guys definitely get up for the game. I don't think we like them too much and I don't think they like us. We're looking forward to it and we're looking forward to getting two more big points."
So Benn appears fine, but Mark Fistric, who left the ice during the festivities following the Doan elbow, was not so lucky.
"Fisty is out. He's a got a little ab strain. He's going to be a day-to-day guy. He's a little sore today," Gulutzan said. "Pards will come in tomorrow."
That's Adam Pardy to you, who could slide into the spot vacated by Mark Fistric along side Trevor Daley, thus preserving the Robidas-Souray and Goligoski-Larsen pairings. We'll have to see what they say after morning skate before we know for sure.
Ryan Garbutt, Tomas Vincour or Toby Petersen could come in at any time as long as options remain on the fourth line, but they could stay with Jake Dowell there as well. The lineup on Tuesday was this...
Dallas has killed all five Vancouver power plays this season thus far en route to out-scoring them 8-4 in two meetings.
Kari Lehtonen was spectacular down the stretch against Phoenix and will be in net again tonight. Richard Bachman earned the Stars big win in Vancouver on the 6th. Lehtonen oversaw the come from behind overtime win over the Canucks on home ice February 26th.
Vancouver played in Chicago last night, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Blackhawks in overtime. They lost more than the game. They possible lost one of their leading scorers in Daniel Sedin.
"Deliberate, principal point of contact, everything you are trying to take out of the game," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said after being asked about the hit. "I expected a major and got a minor."Just like the Stars Tuesday night on the Doan hit.
The Canucks enter this one having dropped six of their last eight games over all.
Since December 23rd the Canucks have scored four goals on a Western Conference playoff team exactly once: 4 against Phoenix on March 12th. They lost that game. You could also count the Sharks on January 21st, as they'll likely be a playoff team, but aren't now. Either way, the dynamic Canuck offense everyone knew from last season has failed to show up against quality Western Conference opponents.
They've scored one goal in their last six periods of hockey leading into this one. They've scored just ten total goals in their last seven road games altogether heading into Dallas tonight.
Nine of their last fourteen road games have gone to overtime or a shootout, however, so they definitely keep things close and compete throughout. They've lost four straight on the road but have gained points in three of them. Giving a point to the Canucks, however, does not concern Dallas, who is battling with five other clubs for the last two playoff spots.
The Canuck power play has scored on just 1 of it's last 16 road opportunities.
The expected lineup:
Roberto Luongo stopped 35 of 37 shots in Chicago last night so we'd expect Schneider to get the nod on the second night of a back to back, but anything is possible. The Canucks put just 24 shots on Corey Crawford at the other end last night.