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Game Preview: Jackets meet league-leading Stars in Dallas

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Dallas Stars (22-6-2) enter Tuesday's game as the top team in the NHL. So, in short, it's a stern test for the Blue Jackets on the tail end of a back-to-back.

Sitting atop the Central Division with 46 points, the Stars are leading the way in arguably hockey's toughest division. They are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, and 11-3-0 at home in American Airlines Center.

Despite their stellar record, the team’s most recent match-up has proved that they will need to play better against teams in their own division. Their last game was Saturday night in St. Louis, and quite surprisingly, the Stars weren't able to light the lamp, dropping a 3-0 final at Scottrade Center. 

Tuesday's game between the Blue Jackets and Stars will kick off Dallas’ three-game home stand. The Stars continue this stretch in their friendly confines with games against the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

The team’s success is largely due to the amount of points that their top guys are producing on a consistent basis. As far as points are concerned, Jamie Benn (40), Tyler Seguin (40), John Klingberg (30) and Patrick Sharp (22) are all at the top of the Stars’ scoring list.

Benn, the reigning Art Ross Trophy, is the focal point of the offense and leads the NHL in goals with 20. Sharp – who was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks over the summer – is a three-time Stanley Cup winner and has proven to be a great addition to the Stars’ forward group. The 33-year-old has played in nearly 800 NHL games and has tallied 548 career points.

With Joonas Korpisalo getting the start in Columbus against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night, Curtis McElhinney is expected to start in between the pipes for Columbus on Tuesday as the Jackets attempt to contain Dallas’ stars. 

On Jan. 6, the Blue Jackets played the Stars at American Airlines Center in Dallas and earned a 4-2 road win.

The Jackets raced out to a hot start and never trailed, with goals coming from James Wisniewski, Ryan Johansen, Kevin Connauton and Mark Lestestu. Sergei Bobrosvky led the way for the Jackets with 26 saves and a .923 save percentage, putting together a solid performance in a building that's always been good to him. 

Instead of picking just one player to watch, let’s pick two: Benn and Seguin.

Both forwards currently lead the team with 40 points apiece and have been the Stars' go-to guns on most every night. The only player above those is Chicago's Patrick Kane, who is having himself a record-breaking, point-streaking season.

Benn was drafted by Dallas in the fifth round (129th overall) in 2007. Benn’s point breakdown includes an even 20 goals and 20 assists, with eight of the goals scored on the power play, two shorthanded and three game-winners.

Hailing from Brampton, Ont., Seguin was drafted by the Boston Bruins as the No. 2 overall pick during the 2010 NHL Draft. The 23-year-old’s point spread includes 15 goals and 25 assists, with four power play goals and three game-winning goals.

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