Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Pittsburgh Penguins (6:00pm CDT)

Malkin and Crosby. Benn and Seguin. There's no shortage of skill in Pittsburgh tonight.

The Dallas Stars got their first win of the 2014-2015 campaign Tuesday night on the strength of their two workhorses, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. The Pittsburgh Penguins loom large this evening, and they know a little something about a couple of big-name workhorses themselves.

After going scoreless in their first two contests Benn and Seguin exploded for seven points in Columbus while the newly formed second-line partnership of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky remained quiet. They'll need all hands on deck tonight if they're to break a 14-year drought in "The 'Burgh."

The Penguins had an off-season full of change. Massive change. And then started the season looking like the, well, the Penguins.

Six points for Sidney Crosby already and 11 goals in their first two games have the Pens out to a quick 2-0 start, including a six-goal dismantling of the Anaheim Ducks on opening night.

They've out-shot their opponents by wide margins 41-24 and 39-29. They've converted four of their first nine power play opportunities (44.4%) and already have a shorty under their belts as well. Only a single even-strength goal against has found its way past Marc-Andre Fleury in the young season. Not to mention they've had four days of rest at home waiting on Dallas.

So as you might expect, it's a tall task in Pittsburgh tonight (as it was last season, a 5-1 loss in March). The puck drops at 6:00pm CST on Fox Sports Southwest locally, 1310 The Ticket on the radio side.

The Stars:

Jamie Benn took the day off Wednesday in Pittsburgh, leading to some odd line combinations in practice that probably won't have much bearing on reality, but it did lead to a good comment from Ruff on Jason Spezza's night after the Stars went on a parade to the penalty box.

"It was an opportunity to look at different options," Ruff said after practice. "Last night, there was hardly any power play time, so it was tough on Jason's ice time. Either I get him involved in penalty killing or maybe I even bump him up with Benn and Segy with Segy on the right every now and then."

As that 44% powerplay looms with Crosby on the ice, a repeat conga-line to the box is an absolute must-avoid.

Dallas began with something like this Tuesday and chances are good something similar will continue:



Curtiz McKenzie also practiced with the team, and Ruff says there's at least a chance they could take a look for real in a game, adding yesterday to media- "He's a possibility. It's something that we're talking about, and we'll come up with that decision tomorrow."

Kari Lehtonen told reporters he wasn't happy with the first goal he allowed Tuesday night but added he is feeling more comfortable in net. He should get the nod again this evening.

From Stars PR:

The Dallas Stars travel to Pittsburgh on Thursday to take on the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. The Stars split the season series against the Penguins in 2013-14, going 1-1-0 with the home team getting the win in each contest. Dallas comes into Thursday's game looking to end a streak of six consecutive losses in Pittsburgh, having not recorded a win in Pittsburgh since an 8-2 decision on Dec. 23, 2000.

The Pens:

The Nashville Predators added former Dallas Stars Mike Ribeiro, James Neal and Derek Roy over the summer. The Penguins lost former Dallas Stars James Neal and Matt Niskanen. They added former Predators Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Former Predator Marcel Goc is there as well. Did you get all that?

Also Crosby and Malkin will be there tonight.

Yes, roster turnover was a big player in Pittsburgh this summer, but they revamped behind the bench as well in canning Dan Bylsma and bringing on Mike Johnston from the WHL (Portland). He's been in the NHL before as an assistant and is said to have coached an up-tempo game out West in Canada. With Crosby and Malkin we don't expect to see a lot of difference in what's always been a dynamic offensive attack.

Their lineup:



Marc-Andre Fleury
Thomas Greiss

Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik departed on the back end, so all eyes are on newcomer Christian Ehrhoff and prized prospect Olli Maatta, who had three assists on opening night.

Conditions look ripe for an end-to-end track meet, but can the Stars find some more finish in their game to keep up with the high-scoring Penguins?

Here's an excerpt from our friends at SB Nation's "Pensburgh" on thoughts from Pittsburgh's first two games:

#3: Sidney Crosby was named the NHL's 3rd star of the week, behind Tomas Plekanec and Darcy Kuemper. Tough crowd, huh?

#4 Crosby's off to the best two-game start (3 goals, 3 assists) of his 10 season NHL career, which draws into mind a couple things. His career high is 120 points in a season in 2006-07, which no one has even come close to since that year. (Evgeni Malkin 's 113 in 2008-09 is the closest). Crosby's best start was the first 41 games in the fall of 2010 when he scored 32 goals and 34 assists in 41 games. Double that if he completed the season and kept that pace and it would be 132 points. But sadly, the concussion happened and we'll never know.

#6 If there's ever a bad time for a 4 day break in between games, it would be now, right? The Pens started the season with two games in three days and put up 11 goals in them, looking about unstoppable offensively. Fans put more into momentum carrying over from day-to-day and game-to-game, but you can bet the team will be chomping at the bit on Thursday night against the Stars. [Pensburgh]

Let's hope not. But, yeah, probably.

We'll see you back here for news throughout the day, and a live discussion in our gameday thread at dinner time in Texas.