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Preview: Dallas Stars @ Pittsburgh Penguins (6:00pm CST)

It’s the plus channel for the Stars tonight as they try to keep their head above that .500 point percentage water and salvage a brutal road swing.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

"It's my job to have the 20 people who play on any given night to play fairly close to how we played last night. And if you don't, then I have to hold you accountable," coach Lindy Ruff told media Wednesday.

The Dallas Stars have earned one of the four points available to them on their current road trip after getting stomped on by the St. Louis Blues and seemingly hoodwinked by a lackluster effort on the Detroit Red Wing’s fault.

Dallas was virtually shutout in their last trip to the Joe- Scoring in the opening seconds and then not again, watching instead as the Wings used power plays to earn the only two points distributed.

Ruff’s message was stern at practice yesterday- Implicating himself syntactically but the leaders on his team more strongly, though indirectly.

“I have to deal with the negative after the game,” he said. “And sometimes the player's vision of how they played is a lot different than mine. That vision has to get a lot closer.”

Oleksiak, Nemeth, Klingberg, Hamhuis- The next healthy scratch is coming and after a day off the ice we’ll wait and see what comes out of morning skate as the 25th lineup configuration of the season is revealed.

The Pens are humming along this season. The weight of expectation does not seem to be adversely affecting them. After heroically defeating the evil, evil San Jose Sharks to the pleasure of the those with discriminating taste, Pittsburgh jumped out to a 13-6-3 record- Just a few points shy of the Rangers for the East lead with a couple of games in hand.

Last night they showed their might- Though not early or often. The Islanders jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two periods before the Pens flexed their considerable offensive muscles, tying the game before losing it on an Anders Lee goal with 27 seconds remaining in what certainly looked like OT.

So the Stars get a disappointed group raring to get that one back tonight - Back-to-back, no less.

They have this one guy who is doing pretty well this season- You may have heard of him. Sidney Crosby. Known more for being a creator than a goal scorer, among many other things, he's on quite a tear this season posting 15 goals in 16 games, which is borderline ridiculous. They join seven assists to make 22 points already on the young year.

With 67 goals on the year, their captain figures in a third of all of their scoring. Jamie Benn has 20 points too, you know. Tyler Seguin has 24.

Crosby's season is being celebrated by hockey pundits across the internet. The difference between winning and losing is everything.

The two of those guys we like will have to stop the one many of us don't, though we're not sure how much of it will be head-to-head. Ruff would probably like Faksa and Roussel against Crosby and Hornqvist, but last change he has not. Will the Pens choose to go at Benn and Seguin with their captain?

Then there's Malkin on the second line. And Kessel on yet another. It's a salty attack to try to slow down, and the Stars' problems on the back end are well documented. Can they salvage their trip against yet another team that's seemingly unbeatable in their barn at 8-2-1 this year?

The Pens lineup:

  • Sheary-Crosby-Hornqvist
  • Guentzel-Malkin-Rust
  • Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel
  • Kuhnhackl-Cullen-Wilson
  • Maata-Letang
  • Dumoulin-Daley
  • Cole-Schultz

That's a bit different than what we've seen over the past few seasons. We all remember Nick Bonino, right? And Stanley Cup champion Trevor Daley?

Matt Murray, Bryan Rust, and Conor Sheary all found fame as young heroes last spring. Now this rookie Jake Guentzel joins them as a regular in the lineup after scoring in his first NHL shift and adding a second goal in the same period.

So be on the lookout for all that young confidence. Rarely does a team boast that sweet bird of youth and a fresh Stanley Cup all at once. That's a good place to be.

From Stars PR:

"IT'S PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO LOOK AT A PENGUIN AND FEEL ANGRY"

The Dallas Stars take on the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena for the first of two contests during the 2016-17 regular season. Dallas has won four consecutive games against Pittsburgh (4-0-0), including two-straight contests at PPG Paints Arena. In the most recent game between the two clubs on Oct. 22, 2015 in Pittsburgh, the Stars defeated the Penguins, 4-1. Defenseman John Klingberg registered a game-high two points (1-1=2) with defenseman Johnny Oduya (1-0=1) and forward Jason Spezza (1-0=1) each adding goals. Goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 33-of-34 shots and the Stars' special teams went 1-for-3 on the power play and killed off all five (5-of-5) of the opposition's chances with the man advantage. Among all Stars skaters, Spezza leads the club with 47 points (17-30=47) in 40 career games against Pittsburgh.

ROLL ON EIGHTEEN WHEELER

Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has four points (3-1=4) over his last five games. Over the last five contests, the blueliner has posted a +3 plus/minus rating, averaging 19:02 time on ice per game with 12 total shots on goal. The native of Toronto, Ont. recorded a career-best two goals (2-0=2) and a career-high 22:27 time on ice on Monday night against St. Louis, along with potting the game-tying goal with less than a minute left in the third period to force overtime. Last week, he recorded the first point streak (1-1=2) of his NHL career from Nov. 21 - 23. During the 2015-16 season, the blueliner recorded two points (0-2=2) in 19 games with Dallas. He registered 54 hits with the club and finished third on the Stars with 2.84 hits-per-game. Oleksiak was originally selected by Dallas in the first round (14th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft and has registered 16 points (2-14=16) in 88 career NHL contests.