The Dallas Stars barely survived a team that now has just a single victory in their last twelve games in the form of the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night. John Klingberg's overtime winner was a breath of fresh air after the shellacking the team was subjected to at the hands of their Central Division superiors Saturday night at the AAC.
Alas, the Blackhawks now cross their path a second time in six days as the Stars must once again try to shut down Chicago's dynamic attack while yielding a hobbled attempt at one of their own without a secondary scoring threat as Jason Spezza's absence continues.
Dallas has split two home games with the Hawks this year. This time they travel to the belly of the beast itself where Chicago has last change and Patrick Kane against every variety of mismatch of which one could dream.
Not that they need such advantages, judging by last Saturday's game.
"We got a little too pumped up for that Chicago game," Jamie Benn told dallasstars.com this week. "They really handed it to us. It was embarrassing."
Chicago scored on the power play. At 4-on-4. On the penalty kill.
And... on the penalty kill.
Only once in their last nine games have the Stars come up with more special teams goals than has their opponent- The road win in Colorado. Chicago was +3 in special teams goals in Dallas on Saturday. Going back to Christmas Dallas opponents are score on average 0.42 more special teams goals than they are per game.
Chicago, like Dallas, has enjoyed a period of having played only once in the last four days, losing to the San Jose Sharks while the Stars got pummeled by a barrage of Wild shots Tuesday night. The Hawks out-shot the Sharks 33-27 but could not get one past Martin Jones in the 2-0 loss.
The fanbase pointed a finger at the pair in net Saturday night when last these squads met. The quality chance totals said there was something much more going on than that (not to mention the eyeball test), but Lindy Ruff singled out his top guys on the back end-
"Our top pair had a real tough night and when that happens, on most nights, you're going to have a real tough night as a team," Ruff said Saturday when asked about, not his defense, but his goaltenders.
A goaltender for this one is anyone's guess. Kari Lehtonen allowed three goals Tuesday night. Kari Lehtonen also single handedly earned his team at last a point with a spectacular third period. Perhaps they'll ride the hot hand?
Neither goalie fared well when last these teams faced off.
On the front end they'll likely roll with something similar to what's been seen of late. Faksa and Eaves practiced with the top line to fit Moen and Sceviour in the practice, so you'd expect Eaves to be there come puck drop.
Stars lines at practice in Chicago today:— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) February 10, 2016
Stars D-pairs at practice in Chicago today:— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) February 10, 2016
You probably don't need to be reminded of the configuration that trapsed through the Stars' defenses Saturday night but here it is:
From Stars PR:
The Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks meet on Thursday night at United Center for the third of five games during the 2015-16 season, with the season series tied at 1-1-0. Dallas has earned points in two consecutive games against Chicago on the road (1-0-1) and in four of their last five overall games against them (3-1-1). Thursday's game marks the second of two games against Chicago in a six-day span, with the Blackhawks defeating the Stars, 5-1, last Saturday, Feb. 6 at American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Blackhawks, 4-0, in the first meeting of the season on Dec. 22 behind a clean sheet from Stars goaltender Antti Niemi, who stopped all 20 shots he faced against his former team. Ten different Stars players recorded a point in the game, including multi-point outings from forward Patrick Sharp (1-1=2) and defenseman Jason Demers (0-2=2). Defenseman Johnny Oduya, who played with Chicago from 2011-2015, registered an assist (0-1=1) with a +2 plus/minus rating.
STAGE FIVE KLINGER
Stars defenseman John Klingberg recorded the overtime game-winning goal (1-0=1) on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild and now has three overtime game-winners this season (other: Nov. 14 vs. Minnesota and Feb. 4 at Colorado). Tuesday night's goal marked the fourth overtime game-winning goal of his NHL career and sets a new franchise record for most overtime goals by a Stars defenseman. Klingberg has points in five of his last seven games (3-3=6) and this season has recorded a career-high 44 points (9-35=44) with a +15 plus/minus rating, sharing fifth in the NHL in assists (35) and sharing second in points (44) among all NHL defensemen. The native of Gothenburg, Sweden has recorded points in all three career road games in Chicago (0-4=4), including tallying two assists (0-2=2) in his most recent game at United Center on Jan. 18, 2015.