A 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs was no way to send things to the Christmas break, and the Dallas Stars know it. Next up for them tonight: The St. Louis Blues, and yet another shot (their 11th) at their first win in the Central Division in 2014.
The Stars dominated the Leafs on Tuesday night, out-shooting and out-attempting them mightily on paper, though the final scoreboard resembled something completely different. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak, but the Stars hope to quickly rebound if they're to keep a playoff spot within any kind of reasonable reach.
The Stars, still sliding in the power play standings, should look to avoid special teams tonight with the Blues entering red-hot on the power play, moving them to third overall in the NHL.
Jamie Oleksiak had been assigned to the Texas Stars earlier in the week, as they resumed games earlier than did the NHL, but could be re-called and available for this one tonight, either in the lineup or as an extra body.
Kari Lehtonen should get the start in goal, barring a surprise- Though such may not be a surprise.
The Blues have been a little leaky over their last three- All losses. They've been out-scored 14-6 in that span, losing the most recent by a mark of 5-0 to the Avalanche in Denver.
By no means is that representative of their season- And certainly not at home. At 21-10-3 they're one of the Western Conference's many powers, and have already tested themselves quite succesfully on the Ducks, Blackhawks, Kings, Wild and Predators.
Do you remember that time they lost at home? They probably don't.
While the denisons of the American Airlines Center have endured 12 losses in 18 tries, the St. Louis home crowd has been treated to win after win, last suffering a regulation loss way back on November 8th, and just three altogether.
At 12-3-1 at home, only the Kings have more victories with the advantage. They currently enjoy a 11-1-1 streak of dominance in front of their fans, including 35 goals scored in their last eight contests. That's some serious punch to pack, and the Stars have not been adept at containing foes like this home or away.
A recent lineup:
Paul Stastny was supposed to be the big headline throughout after a dramatic July acquisition, but the Blues have an embarrassment of riches in their forward ranks as Lehtera and Tarasenko continue to produce like one of the most dominant tandems in the NHL.
You'll remember seeing it first hand in these clubs' first matchup of the year, in which Tarasenko dominated en route to a 4-3 overtime victory at the AAC.
So the Blues negotiated and drafted their way to what Dallas thought they might have this year: Two or even three (some nights) dangerous lines that can threaten to score- While Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, despite modest point totals, still look to strike some semblance of fear into Central Division opposition for the first time.
Central Division opposition... You knew it had to come up at some point.
The Stars are still the league's only winless team within its own division. They own the Conference's best mark against the Pacific at 9-2-1, while struggling against their new rivals to the tune of 0-7-3.
Safe to say there have not been many teams that made many waves without some division wins. What better place than here? What better time than now?
From Stars PR:
The Stars head to St. Louis on Saturday for a one-game road trip, marking the team's fourth game away form home over its last five. Dallas comes into Saturday's tilt with wins in each of its last three games on the road, scoring 10 goals over that span. The Stars have now scored 17 goals over their last six road games for a 2.83 goals-per-game average. Dallas has gone 8-for-9 on the penalty kill during its three-game road streak, killing 88.9% of its penalties over that stretch. Forward Tyler Seguin has five points (3-2=5) in his last four road games, and currently shares second in the NHL with 10 road goals this season. Stars captain Jamie Benn enters Saturday's road tilt with four points (2-2=4) in his last two games away from home, while he ranks second on the club with 13 points (5-8=13) in 15 road games this season.