The Dallas Stars return to action tonight at the American Airlines Center after a couple of days off to think about a big Central division loss to a St. Louis Blues team that did what no other has been able this season: Shutout the league's best offense.
The Stars fell behind early Saturday night, watching the Blues pummel Antti Niemi's net to the tune of a 17-5 shot advantage in the first period en route to the commanding 3-0 victory.
Dallas would out-shoot the defensively postured Blues 21-9 in the game's final 40 minutes but quality looks were in short supply and Jake Allen was there for the remainder.
So now to get back on track- Something they've done quite well. Only the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars boast not having lost back-to-back games this young season.
Columbus has lost two consecutive. In fact, they lost eight consecutive to begin the year and started 2-10-0 overall to juxtapose what's happened here in Dallas.
Then they improved dramatically in an 8-4-0 stretch that saw them beat Nashville, Pittsburgh twice, Los Angeles, San Jose and Colorado- An impressive streak, and those Pacific wins were on the road, late-night.
The heart of that good run? Sergei Bobrovsky and some monster performances in goal (see a 39-save shutout against the Preds)- That is, until the Kings watched him go down with a lower-body injury that will see him miss three weeks.
(Scheduled to return about the time the Stars are in Columbus after Christmas, if you're counting at home...)
Since his departure they've dropped four straight, including a 2-1 loss at home to the Lightning last night. Acting backup Joonas Korpisalo earned second-star honors in stopping 27 of 29 shots, so it seems likely the Stars get Curtis McElhinney this evening.
Over the course of their last ten games the Blue Jackets have scored four goals twice, both on the road against Philly and Winnipeg. In the other eight games they have scored a total of eight, getting held to two or fewer in all of them. So they can have a bit of a hard time scoring.
The Stars know they've had some trouble, inexplicably, with some of the league's most challenged teams, however, and will be wary of fixing what ails the Blue Jacket power play. Early unforced errors in the form of penalties taken did not help in St. Louis on Saturday.
The Blue Jacket lineup, or something like it-
The Stars worked their normal groupings in practice Monday so expect a steady diet of the same. No indication of who will be in goal but the obvious guess is Kari Lehtonen.
From Stars PR:
The Columbus Blue Jackets travel to Dallas to take on the Stars in the first of two matchups this season, with both games scheduled during the month of December. Dallas owns a 15-8-2 record at home against Columbus, but is looking to snap a four game home losing streak (last home win: 4-2 on Oct. 15, 2011). During the 2014-15 campaign, the Stars and Blue Jackets split the season series (1-1-0) with each team recording a victory on the road. In the most recent game played against Columbus on Jan. 6, 2015, the Blue Jackets recorded a 4-2 victory over the Stars with forwards Antoine Roussel (1-0=1) and Ales Hemsky (1-0=1) scoring the goals for Dallas.
SHARP DRESSED MAN
Stars forward Patrick Sharp has registered points in 10 of his last 11 games on home ice (7-7=14). Sharp ranks fourth on the Stars in goals, assists and overall points (10-12=22). Against opponents from the Eastern Conference this season, he has tallied 12 points (5-7=12) with a +5 plus/minus rating in 17 games. The native of Winnipeg, Man. has a five-game point streak against the Blue Jackets, recording six points (3-3=6) over that span. Last season as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, the forward posted two points (1-1=2) in two games. Sharp has posted 47 points (27-20=47) in 48 games against the Blue Jackets, his highest career point total against any NHL club.