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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 1:27 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Red Wings trying to lock up playoff spot in Dallas

DALLAS -- The Detroit Red Wings enter the final game of the regular season Saturday with a simple goal: Beat the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center and secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 22nd straight season.

Detroit (23-16-8, 54 points), which has won three straight and is 6-3-3 in April, sits seventh in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild, who are eighth at 53 points.

The Stars were eliminated from postseason contention for a fifth straight season when the Red Wings beat the Nashville Predators, 5-2 on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena. And even though Dallas has little other than pride to play for, the approach remains the same for Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.

"Well, you just play hard, get prepared and win a game. That’s what we have to do here," Babcock said. "I don’t think we need to worry about anything else, just focus on the process like we talk about each and every game, have some urgency about us, make sure we start on time and we let the structure of the game protect us by being in good spots and being patient."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 2:32 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blue Jackets need to reverse recent history in Dallas

DALLAS -- The numbers are definitely not pretty for the Columbus Blue Jackets when it comes to facing the Dallas Stars. All time, Dallas is 31-10-5 against Columbus, including a 15-5-2 at home with all but two of those meetings at American Airlines Center.

However, when these Western Conference foes square off Thursday night here, the result could be a bit different because these teams are heading in different directions. The Blue Jackets, who are ninth in the West with 51 points, one behind the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings, have won six of their past seven games. Dallas, 10th with 48 points, is hanging on for dear life and could be eliminated if Detroit earns a point on Thursday against the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena.

Columbus coach Todd Richards said how well his club starts could determine the outcome.

"Starts are important. We’ve stressed that for a long time now. Our last 14 games, we haven’t been down by more than one goal in any of those games in the first period and a lot of times we’ve had leads," Richards said. "So, it’s important to get your legs underneath you, especially this time of year. Every shift is critical. You never know when the big play of the game is going to happen. The difference-maker might be in the first period and we’ve approached that, credit to the players who have come out and played hard from the drop of the puck."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 1:45 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Lehtonen's return 'huge' for Stars' playoff hopes

DALLAS -- Richard Bachman filled in admirably between the pipes for the Dallas Stars after a groin injury to starter Kari Lehtonen in the first period of a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on April 9 forced him to leave the ice five minutes before the first intermission.

Bachman went 3-1-0 during that stretch with a 1.88 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. However, Lehtonen is now healthy and will return to the net for Dallas on Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks at American Airlines Center.

Anytime a player many in the Stars room call their team MVP returns, it's definitely a good thing.

"It's huge," Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "I think [Bachman] played unbelievable. Played three great games, but for sure, Kari has been our MVP so far this year in my mind. He's been very good. He's won some games for us. When you get a goalie like that back in the net, for sure you get a little boost."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 2:24 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Stars

DALLAS -- It’s been six days since the San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars last met with Dallas prevailing 5-4 in a shootout at HP Pavilion last Sunday.

Dallas has now won four straight games, and Sharks coach Todd McLellan is impressed with how well Glen Gulutzan’s club has performed during their current streak.

"Well, they’re working hard, they’re a fast team. I don’t know if a lot of people realize they’re No. 10 in offense in the league," McLellan said. "And they have played very free, very loose, excited. Now they’re into a stretch where there’s probably going to be some pressure, so they’ll have to deal with that. But they’re a hard-working team that gets it done five-on-five."

But it’s not like San Jose, who is 8-1-1 in their past 10 games, is exactly struggling, a run which Sharks wing Adam Burish chalks up to some fairly simple things he and his teammates have been doing well.

"I think we’re playing with a little more depth. Everybody’s going now, everybody’s contributing. We’re sustaining momentum in games, but I think too we’re playing with confidence," Burish said. "We’re playing a little simpler too. This team, with all the skill we have, we tend to want to make cute plays and pretty plays. We’re just playing simpler now, more straight ahead, more direct and then you mix that in with continuing to gain confidence you’re going to play better."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 2:03 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Penner returning to lineup as Kings visit Stars

DALLAS -- After missing the past four games with a lower-body injury, Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Penner will return to the ice Tuesday against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he's glad to see Penner make his return against Dallas.

"His last shift was in this building. Hopefully he still remembers that," Sutter said.

Penner, who last played March 31 against the Stars, figures to skate on the Kings' second line, alongside center Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, which will knock Kyle Clifford, who had been filling in, to the fourth line.

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Posted On Monday, 04.01.2013 / 1:22 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Stars, Ducks begin three-game mini-series

DALLAS -- Monday's contest will mark the first of three straight games for the Dallas Stars against the Anaheim Ducks. Dallas will face the Ducks at Honda Center on both Wednesday and Friday.

Here are the projected lineups for Monday night's game:

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Posted On Sunday, 03.31.2013 / 12:26 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Kings, Stars

DALLAS - Here are the projected lineups for Sunday afternoon’s game between the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

KINGS

Dustin BrownAnze KopitarJustin Williams

Dwight KingJarret StollTrevor Lewis

Mike RichardsTyler ToffoliJeff Carter

Kyle CliffordColin FraserJordan Nolan

Jake MuzzinDrew Doughty

Rob ScuderiSlava Voynov

Keaton EllerbyAlec Martinez

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Davis Drewiske, Dustin Penner, Brad Richardson.

Injured: Matt Greene (back), Willie Mitchell (knee).

Notes: Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not speak to the press after Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild. So it’s unclear whether he goes with Jonathan Quick or Jonathan Bernier in net on Sunday against the Dallas Stars.

STARS

Eric NystromJamie BennJaromir Jagr

Ray WhitneyDerek RoyLoui Eriksson

Reilly SmithCody EakinErik Cole

Toby Petersen - Antoine Roussel - Tomas Vincour

Brenden Dillon - Stephane Robidas

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley

Aaron RomePhilip Larsen

Kari Lehtonen

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Jordie Benn.

Injured: Vernon Fiddler (charley horse), Ryan Garbutt (hand).

Notes: Fourth-line center Vernon Fiddler is day-to-day after leaving Friday’s 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild in the first period after crashing into a goalpost. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan termed Fiddler’s injury a charley horse after the game. He did not practice on Saturday.

With Fiddler’s status uncertain for Sunday’s game with the Los Angeles Kings, Dallas recalled wing Toby Petersen from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League on Saturday. Petersen spent all of last season in the NHL and had 23 points (7-16-23) in 65 games in the AHL this season. He skated on the left side of the Stars’ fourth line in practice on Saturday, with Antoine Roussel at center and Tomas Vincour on the right side.

Center Ryan Garbutt, who has missed the past seven games with a hand injury, skated again on Saturday but Gulutzan said he’s still a few days away from returning. That likely means Garbutt will travel with the Stars on their three-game road trip that will see them face the Anaheim Ducks in consecutive games before ending the trek against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at HP Pavilion.

Kari Lehtonen will make a 14th straight start in goal for Dallas.

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Posted On Friday, 03.29.2013 / 1:30 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Wild giving Hackett first start of season vs. Stars

DALLAS -- After starting Niklas Backstrom in goal for the past 12 games, a stretch in which the Minnesota Wild have gone 10-2-0, coach Mike Yeo decided to keep his No. 1 goaltender back in the Twin Cities. That means Matt Hackett will make his first start of the season Friday night against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

Hackett, who was recalled from Houston of the American Hockey League on Thursday, has yet to appear in an NHL game this season, but was 3-6-0 with a 2.37 goals-against average in 12 games with Minnesota last season.

“All I’m hoping to see is what he came up and did last year. He played very good hockey for us last year and we’ve seen him do that both at this level and the American Hockey League,” Yeo said. “We’re anxious to get him in a game. We’re anxious to see him play and prove what he can do.”

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Posted On Monday, 03.25.2013 / 2:14 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Stars set to start post-Morrow era against Wild

DALLAS -- The Minnesota Wild enter Dallas for Monday night's game having won five in a row to run their record to 8-3-2 in March.

On Sunday, the Wild recalled center Jake Dowell, who played 52 games for Dallas last season, and goaltender Darcy Kuemper from Houston of the American Hockey League. Wing Jason Zucker and goaltender Matt Hackett headed to the AHL for the Wild.

The Stars, meanwhile, will be playing their first game without captain Brenden Morrow, traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday for defenseman Joe Morrow and a fifth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. Morrow had been their longest-tenured player, being with the club for the last 14 seasons.

The Stars kicked off a season-long five-game homestand on Saturday night by beating the Colorado Avalanche, 5-2 at American Airlines Center. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan shuffled his lines a bit, putting Eric Nystrom on his top line alongside Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr and it worked. Nystrom had a goal and an assist, Benn turned in a three-point performance and Jagr added a goal and an assist.

Here are the projected lineups for Monday night's game between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.


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Posted On Saturday, 03.23.2013 / 2:40 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Stars set to begin critical homestand

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan is well aware of his club's 6-6-2 record at home, a mark which ranks as the worst in the Western Conference. However, as Dallas begins a season-long five-game homestand Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche at American Airlines Center, he and his players are focused on the task at hand, winning game one and moving on to the next one.

"That's irrelevant to us," Gulutzan said when asked about the importance of the homestand. "It's tonight, this game. Confident we can win on the road, just got to win this game."

Dallas is almost completely healthy, missing only defenseman Aaron Rome (foot), who has missed the past 12 games, and forward Ryan Garbutt (hand), who will miss his fifth straight game Saturday.

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Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season