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Stars Continue Playoff Push Against Canucks

A few things have distinguished the current season for the Dallas Stars from last season. One is their performance in overtime. Daryl Reaugh had some thoughts on part of this:

I’d be tempted to look at puck control and finishing talent, but goaltending is certainly part of it.

Another area where the Stars have cleaned things up significantly is in the teams performance in games against teams at the bottom of the standings. I know – Ottawa, Montreal, even these Vancouver Canucks, who used a three power play goal night to beat the Stars back in early November. But Dallas has taken care of business lately, especially in games that they “should win”.

And this is a sneaky important match with playoff implications for both teams.

There have been Miro Heiskanen sightings on the ice, but he isn’t back in the lineup. The Stars haven’t particularly thrived during his absence, but John Klingberg has stepped up his game as have the goaltenders. More importantly, the team has found ways to win.

Next week, the Stars head out on a four game west coast swing – four games in seven days. All games where the Stars should be favored against teams on the outside looking in. A win tonight against the Cunucks puts the team solidly in the last wild card position, with an opportunity to take aim further up the division.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Vladislav Namestnikov (92) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Denis Gurianov (34)
Jacob Peterson (40) – Jamie Benn (14) – Alexander Radulov (47)
Michael Raffl (18) – Radek Faksa (12) – Luke Glendening (11)

Esa Lindell (23)- John Klingberg (3)
Ryan Suter (20) – Jani Hakanpaa (2)
Thomas Harley (55) – Joel Hanley (44)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

Harley and Peterson find themselves back in the lineup, with Oettinger back in net.

Vancouver Canucks Lineup

Tanner Pearson (70) – J.T. Miller (9) – Conor Garland (8)
Elias Pettersson (40) – Bo Horvat (53) – Brock Boeser (6)
Vasily Podkolzin (92) – Juho Lammikko (91) – Alex Chiasson (39)
Nicolas Petan (7) – Brad Richardson (13) – William Lockwood (58)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) – Tyler Myers (57)
Quinn Hughes (43) – Luke Schenn (2)
Travis Dermott (24) – Brad Hunt (77)

Thatcher Demko (35)
Jaroslav Halak (41)

Jason Dickinson is on injured reserve, and Justin Dowling is back in the AHL, so the only ex-Star in the lineup is Chiasson.

Keys to the Game

Zone Time. The Stars possession game was non-existent on Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Dallas needs to establish their forecheck and take some pressure off of Oettinger.

Special Teams. In their first matchup, Vancouver’s power play proved to be the difference. The Stars need to stay out of the box, and on the other side, figure out a way to gain the zone on the power play.

No Letdown. One game homestands aren’t ideal, and Vancouver has a winning road record. There isn’t any chance to settle in to the usual daily routines, so treat it like a road game with unusually supportive fans.

Talking Points