The Dallas Stars are getting closer and closer to clinching the things for which they've worked so hard all season long. First on the list was a ticket to the dance, so to speak. Clinched on Tuesday night was assurance they would not be a wild card team. Next up? Home ice.
They've 10 points more available to them this season and about three or four might just do in the way of making the American Airlines Center their first stop in the post-season. A golden opportunity to earn a couple of those seemingly arrives tonight in the form of the Arizona Coyotes.
Except the Stars have been a bit less than succesful against Dave Tippett's latest iteration. Dallas has won five of their last six games- Every win coming against playoff teams. The loss in there? To these Coyotes in an ugly 3-1 slog in the desert.
All told the Stars have hung a total of 77 shots on Louis Domingue this season in two games and scored just four times while watching the opposition pot nine- Amounting in a sterling .948 save percentage for the Coyote goaltending and the play in front of him.
Dallas gets one last crack at them- Lest they risk falling into the very odd bucket of teams that have lost to the Coyotes three times in one season and also earned over 100 points. In fact, according to Dallas PR the Stars franchise has beaten the Winnipeg/Phoenix/Arizona franchise at least once each season going all the way back to the 1987-1988 capaign.
However they choose to attack the so-far unalassailable Coyotes they will once again be doing it without the services of Kris Russel and Brett Ritchie- Both still out with day-to-day injuries. Jason Demers and Tyler Seguin, of course, are also on the scratch list.
Cracking the Coyotes tonight would be the path of least resistance. A back-to-back against the hot Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings looms large on the other side, which could leave the Stars scrambling with just three games left if home-ice has not been procured.
The Coyotes face mathematical elimination soon, but are trying to finish their season on a high-note as they build torward the future with a younger, quicker look. They've won six of their last nine and, of course, both contests against a Stars team that just hasn't been able to generate chances against them in Glendale at all.
Lindy Ruff will get a little more say in how he wants to deal with Martin Hanzal and his companions Duclair and Max Domi this evening. The trio has given the Stars fits but Ruff gets the all-important last change tonight for the first time in the season series.
Their lineup, as you well know by now-
They've no injuries of consequence as they figure to get Shane Doan back from an upper-body malady that kept him from their Monday contest.
From Stars PR:
The Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes meet for the third and final time during the 2015-16 season, the second game between the two clubs in a week. The Coyotes lead the season series (2-0-0), winning both games played at Gila River Arena this season. Since moving to Dallas, the Stars have recorded at least one victory every season against the Coyotes franchise. The last time the Stars franchise didn't record a win during the season series was in the 1987-88 campaign (0-1-1-1) when the Stars played in Minnesota and the Coyotes franchise played in Winnipeg. In the most recent game against the Coyotes at American Airlines Center on Dec. 31, 2014, Dallas shut out Arizona, 6-0, behind 32 saves from goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Thirteen Stars skaters tallied at least a point in the contest, including multi-point outings from captain Jamie Benn (1-1=2), defenseman Alex Goligoski (0-2=2) and forward Cody Eakin (1-1=2).
ALES IN WONDERLAND
Stars forward Ales Hemsky registered an assist (0-1=1) on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators and now has points in five consecutive games (2-3=5) and has 11 points (4-7=11) over his last 11 games. Hemsky's five-game point streak is his longest point streak in a Stars uniform and his longest since he recorded points in five consecutive games (2-4=6) from Nov. 29 - Dec. 7, 2013 as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. In 33 games since returning from injury on Jan. 15, Hemsky has tallied 22 (10-12=22) of his 35 (13-22=35) points this season. The forward has a four-game point streak against Arizona (3-2=5) and is riding a three-game goal streak against them (3-0=3). In 40 career games against the Coyotes, he has 40 points (14-26=40) and his 14 goals are his second-most against any NHL opponent (most: 15, Columbus Blue Jackets).