The Dallas Stars
(37-26-5, 79 points) are currently on a nine-game point streak and have won four straight, but figure to get a huge boost with the likely return of captain Brenden Morrow
and Steve Ott
on Saturday night against the Anaheim Ducks
(29-29-10, 68 points).
Morrow has missed 18 straight games with a lower-body injury and last played Feb. 2 at San Jose while Ott had played 50 consecutive games before missing a 4-3 shootout win Thursday over the Sharks because of back spasms.
“Yeah, he [Morrow] is going tonight,” Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said.”His [Ott’s] back spasms have settled down and he’s feeling good, so he’s going to be a go tonight unless something happens between here and there but he felt good this morning.”
Both Dallas regulars figure to return to their normal spots on the Stars’ second line with Morrow on the left and Ott on the right of a line centered by 2012 All-Star Jamie Benn
“I’ve already talked to [Morrow] about that and we’re going to start him with Bennie but we’re going to manage his minutes. So we’ll change the lines up a little bit during the game. I told Brenden probably between 10 and 12 or 10 and 14 [minutes], somewhere in there for the first game in five and a half weeks,” Gulutzan said. “I told him he’s not going to PK tonight. It’s a tough one because when that guy gets in he’s 110. If he’s a one-man wrecking crew then coaches get swayed.”
And it’s no big surprise to hear both players say they’re chomping at the bit to return to the ice.
“Unless the wife makes me some pancakes or something and I have a little trouble getting up this afternoon, I think it’s thumbs up for the game. That’s never been my pre-game routine so I think we’re safe for today,” Morrow said.
Ott also chimed in.
“A lot better -- obviously I was pretty locked up there the last game. I hate missing games. It’s tough but I just couldn’t go,” he said. “It’s just too seized up, probably obviously from the long road trip we had. Finally got it to loosen up with a lot of rehab the last couple days and should be good enough to go barring I wake up and it’s not in spasm.”
However, the Stars will be without defenseman Sheldon Souray
, who left the game Thursday after two periods with a lower-body injury. In his place, Adam Pardy
will return to the ice after being a healthy scratch for the last seven games.
"[Pardy] was good. At points we were thinking of putting him back in here anyway because he played so well in that stint just with everything that was going on we didn’t do that,” Gulutzan said. “We’re glad he’s getting in now tonight and that’s why we got him, so we can win hockey games.”
The Stars have taken four of their first five meetings this year with the Ducks and even with their recent success, they know Anaheim and its lineup full of offensive firepower like reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry
is always a club they have to be up for facing.
“They’ve got some good offensive players. You’ve got to always be aware when the other team’s top line and good offensive guys are out there because they can make some big plays,” Dallas rookie defenseman Philip Larsen
said. “We’ve got to play our game. We know we’ve got to keep this going. We’ve got to be disciplined. They have a good team, got a good power play. It’s important to stay disciplined.”