Game Preview: Dallas Stars Look to Bounce Back Against Washington Capitals (7:00pm CST)

+8 in goal differential in January- The red-hot Washington Capitals come calling Saturday night against a once-again desperate Stars team.

The Dallas Stars are coming off what might be their most dominant performance in years in terms of puck possession against the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night.

Except they didn't win the game.

Lindy Ruff's bunch threw 97 pucks in the direction of the Winnipeg net to the just 37 attempted by the Jets- One of the more lopsided numbers you'll ever see- And yet lost due to the heroics of one man (Pavelec in net) and unfavorable puck luck.

It was their fifth loss in six tries now. And the misfortune grows with the news that Trevor Daley and Brett Ritchie are pretty good bets to miss this one against a deadly Washington Capitals team.

Lindy Ruff, sometimes a little whimsical, dealt with the Stars' most recent woes with a little comedy Friday, as laughter is often one of the better medicines...

"I think the one guy, depends where he carries it, it could be lower or upper. The other guy is lower. We might as well get a little more detail. I give you guys mid-body now. One guy's mid. One guy's lower and one guy can be anyplace."

Mid-body. Lindy Ruff just reinvented the NHL injury report.

Mirth aside, the Stars have a serious issue on their hands. They've lost five of their last six and face a back-to-back situation against the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow night. If ever there were a time to have all hands on the metaphorical deck it would be now, as they try not to drop even further out of the playoff race ahead of the All-Star break.

They have an extra body on defense in David Schlemko, and Vern Fiddler is due back from his lower-body injury, but that leaves them awfully thin in the case of more bangs and bruises.

If Ritchie cannot go then Colton Sceviour is a candidate to move up if Ruff wants to keep Cole with Hemsky and Spezza. A little Fiddler would go a long way for a fourth line that didn't see much ice Thursday, even when the Stars weren't on one of their seven power plays. Travis Moen skated just 85 seconds in the in the second period, and only 98 in the third.

Anders Lindback has played the last 109:30 for the Dallas Stars. One would imagine Kari Lehtonen will be given a chance to re-claim what was his this evening, but with the back-to-back looming (somehow again, thanks, NHL) in Chicago tomorrow evening, all bets are off.

The Dallas Stars are pitted against yet another hot team- Perhaps the hottest they've faced. The Capitals have points (before their meeting with Nashville Friday night) in 18 of their last 19 games.

18. Of their last 19. Which is hard to imagine.

Heading into play Friday night the Washington power play had converted 5 of its last 18 chances. One of which was the difference in a 3-2 win over Chicago. Another of which was the difference in a 4-3 win over Florida. Another drove them to a 2-1 win over the Avalanche. Another helped them escape the Red Wings 3-1. And that's all in just their last eight games.

They were just 1:40 away from a point in Nashville last night- And that due to, you guessed it, their power play, which connected twice on Friday (Ovechkin, Johansson).

The Stars, in fairly stark contrast, are mired in a 1-for 24 slump on the job after missing out on alls even chances Thursday.

The Caps are 6-5-2 against the West, and specialize in that which the Stars do not with more Central Division wins (4-1-0) than Dallas' two in sixteen tries.

Their lineup lately, or something reminiscent:



Braden Holtby
Justin Peters

Holtby played last night, allowing 4 goals on 30 shots- Their last 18 consecutive wins have come from their number-one. The last from Justin Peters? November 8th, and that only his second win of the season. Who starts tonight? We'll have to see. Such is the nature of the back-to-back.

From Stars PR:

Dallas plays host to the Washington Capitals on Saturday night in the first of two matchups against the Eastern Conference foe. The Stars swept Washington last season (2-0-0), and come into Saturday's contest boasting a five game winning streak against them (5-0-0). Since the start of the 1996-97 season, the Stars have posted a 17-2-3 record against the Capitals, with a 10-0-2 mark in Dallas. Stars captain Jamie Benn notched two assists against Washington last season and enters Saturday's tilt riding a three-game point streak (1-4=5) against them. Forward Erik Cole scored one goal in one game against the Capitals in 2013-14, extending his point streak to three games (2-1=3) against the team. Cole paces the Stars with 22 goals and 36 points (22-14=36) in a team-high 50 career games against Washington.