The Anaheim Ducks played last night, losing to the Nashville Predators 4-2 and then traveling to Dallas for tonight’s matchup. Normally, that would bode well for the Stars — a tired team, a backup goaltender, the benefit of being at home in their own beds while the other team traveled and slept in hotel beds.
Unfortunately, Dallas hasn’t had much luck in those situations. They seem to lose to backup goaltenders on the regular, and haven’t had the best track record of winning when teams are playing them on the second half of a back-to-back. It’s a confluence of circumstances that make it look even more difficult for Dallas to get a win tonight.
But they need one.
They’re playing .500 hockey of late, going 4-4-2 in their last 10. They had built up enough of a lead on those teams behind them for this stretch not to be detrimental to the playoff picture. That margin has slimmed, and they’ve been helped by teams like the St. Louis Blues slipping too.
Dallas embarks on one of their longest road trips of the season after tonight’s game, with six games before they return to the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center. The road has been kinder to them of late, but their record on the road is still .500 (14-14-3).
Even hockey from now until the end of the season gives the Stars 15 more points for a total of 95. Is that enough to get into the playoffs? Most likely not. Every point they can pick up in their last five home games are points they don’t have to try to find on the road, and that starts tonight versus the Ducks.
Dallas Stars Lineup
The Stars are looking to spark some offense, with seven of their last 10 games seeing the Stars score just two goals (or fewer). While the power play seems to have picked up of late, their five-on-five scoring has dried up — reminiscent of how the Stars were playing in the first 20 games of the season as they adjusted to Ken Hitchcock and his system. To that end, Hitchcock ran these lines at practice yesterday:
Mattias Janmark - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Antoine Roussel - Jason Spezza - Remi Elie
Devin Shore - Jason Dickinson - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Marc Methot - Stephen Johns
Kari Lehtonen is expected in net. Julius Honka, who played in the last two games after being a healthy scratch for eight games, will find a seat in the press box tonight as Lindell returns from sickness. Faksa, who missed the last two games with a lower body injury, also returns to the lineup.
Anaheim Ducks Lineup
Rickard Rakell - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie - Adam Henrique - Ondrej Kase
Jason Chimera - Derek Grant - Antoine Vermette
Cam Fowler - Brandon Montour
Hampus Lindholm - Kevin Bieksa
Francois Beauchemin - Josh Manson
Ryan Miller should start in net, with John Gibson playing last night. Miller pitched a 41 save shutout versus the Stars on February 21st, and tonight will be his first start since February 25th.