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Tough Road Test Awaits Dallas Stars In Tampa Tonight

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The Tampa Bay Lightning - so hot right now.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars seem to be better than the Tampa Bay Lightning in a lot of statistical categories. (Snapshot courtesy of Loserpoints from Raw Charge.)

Notice the “results” categories and how Dallas is literally approaching (or at) unlucky in almost every single one. At this point, you wonder when the goal scoring moves from unlucky to being what they are - not as offensively skilled as they should be this year because they’re hyper-focused on defense.

That “defense” on the penalty kill has started to spring a leak lately. Dallas needs to keep off the job if they want to contain the second-best power play in the NHL tonight. Their penalty kill away from home has been a big factor in the losing record they’re currently sporting, and they need to start accumulating some points on the road if they hope to have success this season.

Ben Bishop will do his part tonight, motivated a little more than normal as he returns to the place where his NHL career began. He’ll likely get a very warm welcome when he steps on the ice, but he’ll be focused on getting his current team two important points.

With four games in six nights, the Stars haven’t had much in terms of practice time. With Marc Methot still injured and Jason Dickinson returned to the Texas Stars, the lineup is likely to look like much of what the Stars used against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday:

Mattias Janmark - Jamie Benn - Alexander Radulov
Gemel Smith - Tyler Seguin - Devin Shore
Remi Elie - Martin Hanzal - Jason Spezza
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns

Brett Ritchie is the assumed scratch at forward.

The Lightning have a lethal top line, with Stamkos and Kucherov taking home player of the week honors several times already this season. Stamkos leads the league in points and Kucherov leads the league in goals, so the Stars will have a tall order keeping them contained tonight. With it being a road game, Ken Hitchcock will not be able to get his preferred match-up against that line, so I’d imagine the Elie-Hanzal-Spezza line to often be on the ice opposite Tampa’s top line.

Here’s the expected lineup for the Lightning tonight.

Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Gabriel Dumont
Chris Kunitz - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Dan Girardi
Andrej Sustr

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Peter Budaj