With their win against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Dallas Stars snapped a five-game losing streak to improve to 2-7-1. Now they have a chance to earn their first consecutive win of the season as they kick off a four-game homestand.
The odds look good for Dallas, as their opponents are the Ottawa Senators, who currently sit in last place in the league. The only NHL team yet to win a second game, the Senators are coming off of a 5-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes this past Saturday. Also unlike the Stars, Ottawa was expected to be bad heading into the season — they have some budding stars such as Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot, but otherwise they’re not a very talented team.
On the other hand, the Senators’ goal differential (-11) is only one lower than the Stars’ (-10). And they both get outshot by 3.4 shots a game. And Dallas only won their last game because Ben Bishop was a brick wall and Carter Hart wasn’t. And...you know what, let’s just skip to the lineups, shall we?
It wasn’t pretty, but the Stars are expected to ice a lineup similar to the one they used against the Flyers:
Jamie Benn – Roope Hintz – Corey Perry
Jason Dickinson – Tyler Seguin – Joe Pavelski
Mattias Janmark – Radek Faksa – Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano – Justin Dowling – Denis Gurianov
Miro Heiskanen – John Klingberg
Esa Lindell – Andrej Sekera
Jamie Oleksiak – Taylor Fedun
In particular, fans should keep a close eye on the line consisting of Benn, Hintz, and Perry. The trio looked great in Philadelphia — Hintz and Perry both scored while Benn had two shots off of the post.
Also worth keeping an eye on is Denis Gurianov, who has looked electric since returning from his brief stint in the AHL. And if you don’t believe me, here’s what Jim Montgomery had to say about the rookie forward:
“I personally thought Denis, since he’s come back, has been awesome for us... He’s on top of pucks. He’s skating, he’s winning battles. You can see the confidence growing… he looks like someone that’s gone through that door and is ready to be a full-time NHL player.”
Anton Khudobin will be in goal tonight, looking to earn his first win of the season.
Like the Stars, the Senators’ lineup has been very fluid to start the season as head coach D.J. Smith tries to find the best line combinations. Here was their lineup on Saturday against Arizona:
Brady Tkachuk - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Connor Brown
Anthony Duclair - Colin White - Vladislav Namestnikov
Tyler Ennis - Chris Tierney - Bobby Ryan
Nick Paul - Jordan Szwarz - Scott Sabourin
Thomas Chabot - Nikita Zaitsev
Mark Borowiecki - Dylan DeMelo
Erik Brannstrom - Ron Hainsey
Szwarz was sent down to the AHL on Sunday, which means an injured forward such as Artem Anisimov might return to the lineup. As mentioned before, the Senators’ best forward is Tkachuk, although he’s only tied for 6th in scoring on the team with just 3 points so far this season. Regardless, when Tkachuk is on the ice, you can bet the Senators will be applying offensive pressure:
The other player to keep an eye on is Thomas Chabot. The 23 year old defenseman leads the Senators in average ice time with a ridiculous 26:34, only three seconds behind San Jose Sharks defenseman Brett Burns for the NHL lead. Currently in the last year of his ELC, Chabot inked an eight year, $64M contract extension this offseason, and so far looks to be well-worth the investment.
Anders Nilsson is expected to get the start over Craig Anderson will get the start in goal tonight. Anderson has started more games (5 vs 2), but Nilsson has the better save percentage (.922 vs .895).