The Dallas Stars have lost seven of ten now coming off a loss to the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday in which they put 42 shots on Carey Price and punctured him only twice - both times with more skaters on the ice than the opposition.
The Stars have now scored just 3 times on their last 79 shots - 3.79% shooting. They hope to cure that against the Ottawa Senators, against whom they scored five times earlier in the month.
The matchup has been a lucrative one in recent years, according to Stars PR - "Dallas comes into Thursday's tilt riding a six-game winning streak against the Senators, and having earned points in each of the last seven meetings (6-0-1). The Stars have wins in their last two games at Canadian Tire Centre, and have earned points in five-straight tilts in Ottawa (3-0-2)."
So that's a plus. What isn't is how the Stars played in that win a couple of weeks ago when last the Sens came to Dallas. Ottawa dominated with a 41-29 shot advantage, jumped out to a 3-1 first-period lead, and chased Kari Lehtonen from the net.
Heroics from John Klingberg and Anders Lindback pulled the Stars' bacon out of the fire - but as Tuesday in Montreal proved, bad starts are not so often overcome. They'll have to better in the opening 20.
Vern Fiddler appeared to be injured Tuesday after blocking a shot but reportedly will play. Brett Ritchie and Erik Cole both practiced and are listed as questionable, so seemingly doubtful, but we'll see. Erik Cole would be a good shot in the arm for this group.
Anders Lindback stopped 34 of 36 against the Sens on the 14th, and Kari Lehtonen did not have a good first period in Montreal. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility in the Dallas goal right now, so stay tuned after morning skate.
The Sens entered the All-Stars break on a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and were carrying on in a generally positive direction, having picked up points in 7 of their last 11 games (5-4-2) - but that's not cutting it in the East these days as they trail 8th place Boston as of this writing by a full 10 points for the last wild card spot.
They've alternated losses and wins at home, five and five, in their last 10 at Canadian Tire Centre - and the last was a win. They'll try to finally get two in a row while the Stars hope the trend continues, but there are extenuating circumstances.
I don't know if you know this, but Jason Spezza used to play there a bit. It's true.
Yes, and while they (mostly) loved him for a long time in Canada's capital, there will still be an undeniable yearning on and off the ice to "win the breakup"- so the raucous nature of the enemy crowd that rattled Dallas in Montreal continues this evening, and then gets even worse in Winnipeg on Saturday. Such is life north of the border.
Ales Hemsky played in Ottawa as well, however briefly. On the other side Alex Chiasson faces his old mates once again, having recorded an assist in Dallas earlier in the month.
The Stars must once again try to contain Bobby Ryan, who had two assists in Dallas despite the Stars' benefit of last change. Slowing him down on the road will be even more difficult. Dallas will again try to cure their power-play woes, but Ottawa has killed 17 of their last 19 at home (90%).
The Sens own the league's 7th best home penalty kill (compare at Dallas' 25th ranked home unit). And here's a curious stat: The Senators are worst in the league in win percentage when they score first (11-9-7) at just .407.
Ottawa changed up their lines a bit in what their coaching staff was calling a kind of "mini-camp" coming out of the break. Expect to see something kind of like this:
Winger Alex Chiasson was not reportedly part of any line combination at practice Wednesday, and neither was Colin Greening- But that doesn't mean Chiasson won't play.
Coach Dave Cameron explains:
"It's part of the game, you switch things up every once in awhile whether it's one shift or it's 20 games, whatever is going to help the team best. If that's going to help the team, we're on board," said Turris.
"You switch things up to get guys going, you get different chemistry, you get kind of new energy ... There's lots of different reasons to do it. Stepping outside your comfort zone you might find something new." [Ottawa Sun]
Craig Anderson looks like their guy in net- Even if the rumor mill on trading him attempted to get itself started up in recent weeks.
From Stars PR:
Dallas forward Patrick Eaves returned to the lineup on Tuesday night and scored his first power play goal of the season. After missing the previous 21 games due to a lower body injury, Eaves logged a +1 plus/minus rating, six shots on goal, two hits and one blocked shot, in addition to his power play tally, in 18:00 time on ice against the Canadiens Tuesday night. The native of Calgary, Alta. has now scored four goals and tallied nine points (4-5=9), and has a +4 rating in 20 games this season with Dallas. Eaves comes into Thursday's contest having posted three points (2-1=3) in six career matchups with the Senators.