It will be a homecoming of sorts tonight for Canucks coach Willie Desjardins as he leads his team into battle against a Stars team he was once the associate head coach for and, last year, guided their farm team to an AHL championship. Willie's biggest reason for wanting to win, however, won't be personal. His primary concern is making sure the Canucks don't suffer their first slump of the season by dropping a second consecutive game and starting an early but crucial road trip with a loss. Vancouver fell 4-2 to Tampa Bay on Saturday night at Rogers Arena despite turning in a solid effort and out-shooting Steven Stamkos' crew 32-24 in that outing.
The Stars are hoping to avoid a second straight loss as well tonight when they wrap-up their short two-game home stand. They are coming off a 6-5 overtime loss to the Flyers on Saturday in a game they felt like they handed away after squandering third period leads of 4-2 and 5-4. The Stars dominated last year's season series against the Canucks winning all three head-to-head meetings while out-scoring Vancouver by a combined 12-3. They were particularly dominant at the American Airlines Center amassing 10 goals on 48 total shots over two games played there while chasing Canuck starting goaltenders in both outings. Ryan Miller, who sat out Saturday's loss to the Lightning after posting a 28-save shutout win over the Oilers the night before, is expected to be back between the pipes for the Canucks. Kari Lehtonen has been the primary go-to-goalie for the Stars so far this season and should get the nod in this one for Lindy Ruff's squad.
Puck drop at 5:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Stay disciplined. Ill-advised, and ill-timed, penalties ended up being the Canucks' downfall on Saturday against the Lightning. If they keep insisting on going to the sin bin, they're going to get burned by what has been a hot Dallas power play so far this season.
Beware #91. The Canucks didn't do nearly enough to contain Tampa's #91 on Saturday. They better not make the same mistake with Dallas' #91 – also known as Tyler Seguin and also known as the guy who scorched the Canucks by recording eight points (3-5-8) in three head-to-head meetings last season which included a hat trick performance (five points total) in the most recent clash back on March 6.
Learn to play shutdown. In their three losses this season, the Stars have either squandered a third period lead or given up the go-ahead goal in the final frame. If tonight's game comes down to the wire and the Stars find themselves in the driver's seat late, they need to find a way to close out the game.
By the Numbers
Team-worse plus-minus rating for ex-Oiler/ex-Sen Ales Hemsky, who signed in Dallas as a UFA this summer.
Save percentage for Kari Lehtonen in last year's season series against the Canucks (101 saves on 104 shots).
Straight losses for the Canucks in Dallas dating back to April 18, 2013.
Straight losses for the Canucks overall to the Stars dating back to April 18, 2013.
Stars with two-or-more points in last year's season series. Only one Canuck – Kevin Bieksa with three assists – had multiple points.
Points (4-4-8) in three games for Stars forward Tyler Seguin last week, earning him NHL First Star of the Week honours.