The Dallas Stars (3-4-0) take on the Anaheim Ducks (6-1-0) tonight on the second night of a back-to-back, with a start time just 21 hours after last night's.
And they need this one.
Early though everyone keeps saying it is, the Stars do find themselves with the second-worst point total and the second-worst goal differential in what is obviously a very strong Western Conference, top to bottom.
Dallas did some nice things at Staples Center last night in playing the Kings to a draw through 40 minutes, but the familiar chorus of turnovers and net-minding that isn't quite what they'd like, or expect if Kari Lehtonen were healthy. The power play put just five shots on Jonathan Quick in nine minutes of opportunity while the penalty kill surrendered a goal.
The Ducks have killed 13 straight penalties of a period of four games, all home wins.
The Seguin line played like a top-line last night, generating both goals and additional quality chances, but received no help from the other units. Turnovers killed too many would-be rushes.
"We had some turnovers that were inexcusable tonight," Lindy Ruff told media Saturday. "That turnover on the first goal was one that gave them momentum. Those decisions are the ones that have hurt us, especially on the road. We've had some big ones, and it gives the other team momentum. Even the Colorado game, they didn't have much going on, and we handed them a big play in the first period."
As for who will be in the Dallas net, it's anyone's guess. Dan Ellis was brilliant at times last night but the two third period back-breakers were arguably stoppable. One or the other. Jack Campbell could get a start in a real tough spot here tonight.
Kari Lehtonen worked on ice again yesterday, but indications last night were that his removal from IR is doubtful.
"Not yet," Ruff said when asked of the goaltender situation last night. "I'll digest that on the bus ride to Anaheim."
As with the Avalanche, as with the Kings, as with the Sharks, the Stars find themselves again facing a team that is absolutely rolling and capable of piling up the goals. The Ducks have won six straight games coming into this one and are looking to put an exclamation point on a big home stand before embarking upon an eight-game road trip.
The Ducks figure to trot these lines out, or something like them:
Anaheim is fifth in goal scoring (3.29) and seventh in goals against per game (2.29) giving them a full goal differential, which is not unimpressive. Their 2.22 5-on-5 GF/GA ratio is second best in the NHL. Their 36.3 shots per game are also second best.
More from Defending Big D:
- Los Angeles Kings Dispatch Dallas Stars with Ease 5-2 at Staples Center
- Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars Look for More Against Los Angeles Kings (9:30pm CDT)
- Dallas Stars Daily Links: Just Like Old Times
- Western Conference Full Of Surprises In Young 2013-2014 NHL Season
- Kari Lehtonen Practices, Unlikely For Weekend Games Against Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks