Game Preview: Dallas Stars Visit Florida Panthers, Dmitry Kulikov (6:30pm CST)

6:30 start tonight on Fox Sports Southwest.

The Dallas Stars have blown a plethora of third-period leads this season, but Tuesday night's open hand slap to the hockey chestnuts in the form of a deflected puck off Jordie Benn's skate with 1.7 seconds to go looked like it was going to be the year's real "Pièce de résistance."

And it was, until Jamie Benn generated the game-winner with a tremendous effort at both ends as the Stars elongated their season's slim hopes for another 48 hours.

That win broke their second six-game losing streak of the season (maybe that says it all right there...), and they now venture out on the road for a change, starting against those Florida Panthers.

Against Dmitry Kulikov.

You don't have to look hard for narratives in this one. Will the Stars attempt to exact some manner of on-ice policing tonight against the young man who threw such a foolish hit on unsuspecting and still waylaid Tyler Seguin? As if to drive home what happened to Trevor Daley Tuesday night (expected to miss "weeks" with a dirty knee injury of his own) the schedule maker offers us a little reminder with Kulikov.

Or if you prefer something more constructive -- can John Klingberg overtake Aaron Ekblad for first in rookie scoring by a defenseman?

The Panthers started quite the buzz on the Internet Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs when Roberto Luongo was injured by a high shot. He left the game and was seen in street clothes at one point according to reports.

Al Montoya entered the game, hurt his groin, appeared to be ready to come out of the game, but stayed and powered through it for a time.

Roberto Luongo was then BACK in uniform and came in to save the proverbial day -- but in between all that madness the officials had to halt the game when it appeared Montoya couldn't go.

Derek MacKenzie, a forward, was sent to the room to suit up in goaltending gear, and the team got permission from the league, during the game, to suit up their goaltending coach Rob Tallas (last seen on NHL ice 14 years ago).

Twitter went nuts as it appeared Tallas would have to come into the game before Luongo re-entered the action.

That's four Florida Panthers in goaltending gear I just mentioned. Now here's two more:

Dan Ellis has been recalled from San Antonio of the AHL, and Sam Brittain from the team's ECHL affiliate. They appear to be the tandem that will suit up this evening against Dallas, with Ellis getting his first NHL action of the season, according to TSN and the Associated Press.

You remember Dan Ellis, right?

According to the AP the Panthers actually considered playing some of the third period with no goaltender at all -- and they're in a playoff race for the 8th and final seed in the East.

They lost that game to Toronto, but only because of Jonathan Bernier. Florida put 42 shots on those hapless Leafs at home Tuesday but managed to find the back of the net only twice after scoring four against Tampa and five against Buffalo in back-to-back wins on back-to-back nights.

Florida's played tough at home lately, even if they don't always get the result they want. An overtime loss to the Blues. A shootout loss to Nashville. Wins over Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. All quality outings over the course of a 5-2-2 home stretch. (Success at home, huh?)

Here's their lineup recently or something close:


Adolf Kulikov-Gudbranson

Dan Ellis

Wait... Jagr?

Yes, Jaromir Jagr was traded by the Devils, after he made it clear he was pretty ready for it to happen -- and the legend now brings his talents to South Beach (ish) to help the Panthers catch that final wild-card seed. For comedy see how many games and points he has versus all of his new teammates combined here at this link.

From Stars PR:

Defenseman John Klingberg notched his 24th assist of the season Tuesday against the Islanders. Klingberg now has points in his last two games (0-2=2) and in his last eight games has five points (0-5=5). The Gothenburg, Sweden native currently ranks fourth on the Stars and shares fifth amongst all League rookies with 34 points (10-24=34) this season. Klingberg also is tied for fourth among all Dallas skaters and is tied for third among all first-year players with 24 helpers. The 22-year-old currently ranks first among rookie defensemen in assists and shares the scoring lead with Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad.