STARS (17-11-1) at ISLANDERS (9-13-6)
TV: FS-Southwest; MSG PLUS
LAST 10: Dallas 6-3-1; New York 4-3-3
Season Series: The Stars and Isles are meeting for the second and last time this season -- and the second time in 12 days. On Dec. 3 in Dallas, Matt Moulson became the only NHL player to score four goals in a game this season in the previous meeting between the clubs, enabling the Islanders to escape with a 5-4 win.
Big Story: The Stars are looking to avenge their home loss 12 days ago as they continue their Metropolitan area road swing after a 1-0 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday. The Stars travel to Nassau Coliseum before concluding their current five-game road trip against the New Jersey Devils on Friday. The Islanders are back home after losing 5-3 in Montreal on Tuesday.
Stars: Dallas' offense has mustered only three goals in its last two games, but the play of rookie goaltender Richard Bachman has lifted the Stars to a pair of road wins in the first two starts of his career. After stopping 26 of 27 shots on Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, Bachman earned his first career shutout on Tuesday by stopping all 34 shots against the Rangers.
With the team on a roll due to his strong play, coach Glen Gulutzan will continue to ride the momentum on Thursday, as Bachman is set to make his third straight start on Long Island.
"Every point matters," said defenseman Trevor Daley, who scored the lone goal for Dallas in the third period of Tuesday's win at Madison Square Garden. "It was tough. [The Rangers] didn't give you much out there. We stuck with it. We got a break and buried it. We're not going to score too many goals on [Henrik Lundqvist]. It was a hard battle. We stuck with it and came out on top."
Islanders: After going 4-0-2 from Nov. 26 to Dec. 8, New York has taken a step back with consecutive regulation losses. The Isles opened up a 2-0 lead in the first period last Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins but fell apart in an eventual 6-3 defeat. On Tuesday, the Islanders received third-period goals from Josh Bailey and John Tavares to pull even at 3-3.But Petteri Nokelainen, a first-round pick by the Isles in 2004, notched the go-ahead goal for Montreal, and Hal Gill added an empty-netter to seal New York's fate.
"Right now, it's painful," captain Mark Streit told NHL.com. "We came back, played a great third period, tied it up and after a long shift they score the game-winner. This just can't happen -- period. You play like that - you're going to lose games. I think the past two weeks we've been playing some pretty good hockey, but not tonight."
Who's Hot: PA Parenteau has thrived as a distributor for the Isles as of late, tallying a goal and nine assists in his last eight games for New York. … Daley had only one goal in his first 24 games for Dallas, but has two goals and an assist in his last two contests.
Injury Report: Goaltender Kari Lehtonen (groin) and forward Adam Burish (hand) are on IR and will be out of the lineup for Dallas. Defenseman Mark Fistric, who was suspended three games for charging on Islanders' forward Nino Niederreiter on Dec. 3, is eligible to return Thursday on Long Island. … The Isles are without Niederreiter (concussion), Rick DiPietro (groin), Jay Pandolfo (broken foot), Andrew McDonald (right leg) and Mark Eaton (knee). Evgeni Nabokov (strained groin), who has not played since Nov. 17, was activated off IR on Dec. 12 and backed up Al Montoya on Tuesday night in Montreal. He will be available Thursday against the Stars. Newsday reports that defenseman Steve Staios won't dress because of a possible concussion; the Isles are expected to call up either 2009 first-rounder Calvin de Haan or 2008 second-rounder Aaron Ness from AHL Bridgeport.
Stat Pack: The Stars have won three straight games on Long Island, with their last road loss to the Islanders coming in a 4-1 decision on Nov. 6, 2003.
Puck Drop: Stars forward Eric Nystrom, who is tied with Loui Eriksson for the team lead with 10 goals this season, is the son of former Islander great Bobby Nystrom -- a driving force behind New York's run of four consecutive Stanley Cup titles from 1980 to 1983. Bobby will be in attendance Thursday as Eric - a native of Syosset, N.Y. - faces the team he grew up watching and rooting for in an arena (the Nassau Coliseum) he knows well.
"We've got to win, that's what it's all about," Eric told the Dallas Morning News. "I've got a lot of family and friends coming. They're excited. I'll have a good following and I'm really excited about that, but it's just another game we have to win."
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