The last time that the Dallas Stars beat the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Jason Robertson logged just over eight minutes for the game, playing on a fourth line with Nick Caamano and Rhett Gardner. Anton Khudobin posted a 3-0 shutout win, saving all 43 shots that he faced. The lineup featured eight Stars who are currently with the NHL squad.
Last year’s 7-1 drubbing was a continuation of a trend - Dallas, when they play Florida, give up a bunch of shots and a healthy number of those end up in the net.
To expand things a bit, Florida (the state) just hasn’t been that kind to the Stars.
But maybe Tuesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is a sign of better times ahead. For the first time in recent memory, Dallas looked like a team that could go toe-to-toe with the Lightning.
The Stars continue to roll out the same lineup, and roll four lines. Florida is more top heavy, relying on their top three lines and top two pairs. In net, Sergei Bobrovski and Spencer Knight are mostly splitting time as 1A and 1B respectively.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Mason Marchment (27) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Matej Blumel (22)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Joel Kiviranta (25) – Radek Faksa (12) – Luke Glendening (11)
Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Ryan Suter (20) – Nils Lundkvist (5)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpaa (2)
Scott Wedgewood (41)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Dellandrea took a slap shot off the ankle against the Lightning, but did take four shifts after returning to the bench. Denis Gurianov has missed three games with an upper body injury, but could be available. Morning skate had Dellandrea on the ice.
In addition, Joel Hanley was skating with Nils Lundkvist withleaving a Suter-Heiskanen pairing. This indicates the possibility that Colin Miller may draw out. The lineup has been stable for the entire season, so for now, I’m leaving things - but there could be some minor shakeups for this last game of the road trip.
Florida Panthers Lineup
Carter Verhaeghe (23) - Aleksander Barkov (16) - Matthew Tkachuk (19)
Ryan Lomberg (94) - Anton Lundell (15) - Sam Reinhart (13)
Eetu Luostarinen (27) - Sam Bennett (9) - Colin White (6)
Nick Cousins (21) - Eric Staal (12) - Patric Hornqvist (70)
Gustav Forsling (42) - Brandon Montour (62)
Marc Staal (18) - Aaron Ekblad (5)
Josh Mahura (28) - Radko Gudas (7)
Sergei Bobrovsky (72)
Anthony Duclair remains out with an Achilles injury. Ekblad has been back for two games after missing eleven games with a lower body injury. Brandon Montour picked up the slack while Ekblad was out.
Keys to the Game
Special Teams. The Stars are the second-rated power play in the NHL, and the penalty kill is third. The Panthers have been improving on the penalty kill, but the power play is in a rut. Both units are in the bottom half of the league. Both teams are top ten in penalty minutes, and by the numbers, that should favor the Stars.
End of the Road. Dallas hasn’t had two games in the same building since November 1. That’s seven games with a lot of travel. Meanwhile, Florida is playing their fourth of five games at home. The Stars need to keep they’re energy up, especially against a team that has a history of putting up big numbers in head-to-head matchups.
The Tkachuk/Gudas/Marchment/Benn Factor. This game has the potential to get a bit chippy. The team that focuses their emotions will have a distinct advantage.