Such is life in the Western Conference playoff race where a three-game win streak barely creates a ripple and yet a single loss can cause a tsunami. The Canucks learned that the hard way after dropping a 4-1 decision to the Avs on Thursday and watching the Kings creep yet another step closer to them in the standings. The Canucks can't fall out of second place in the Pacific Division tonight, win or lose, but if they don't come up with a victory they'll definitely be feeling the heat from the likes of the Kings and Flames – not exactly a good position to be in with a critical four-game road trip looming.
Rebounding from Thursday's poor effort should be motivation enough but if the Canucks need some added incentive, they're also 0-2 against the Stars this season and this is their last opportunity to make a mark on the season series. Potential lineup changes for the Canucks won't be revealed until the morning skate as Vancouver did not practice yesterday. Look for Eddie Lack to get the call in net.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
The Stars were essentially left for dead at the start of March as far as their playoff chances were concerned but a strong three-week stretch gave them a new lease on life. Last night's 4-0 loss in Edmonton, however, might have been the final nail in the coffin for those hopes. The Stars went into yesterday's tilt with a four-game win overall win streak and a four-game road win streak – both of which were snapped with the defeat. Kari Lehtonen, who has been a big part of Dallas' recent resurgence, also had a franchise-record nine-game road win streak snapped in the defeat. It's easy to point fingers at Lehtonen who allowed four goals in a game for the first time since February 27 but it's not as if the offence did much to bail him out. The Stars had scored three-or-more goals in three straight heading into that contest in Edmonton, were blanked for just the third time all season.
Offence has not been an issue at all for the Stars in the season series as they've out-scored the Canucks by a combined 8-3. You don't have to dig too far down their roster to know which players to keep an eye on if you're the Canucks – that would be Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, two guys who should hear their fair share of boos tonight at Rogers Arena for reasons unrelated to their play on the ice. Benn has a goal and an assist so far in the season series and did have an eight-game point streak against Vancouver which was snapped in the last head-to-head meeting. Seguin also has a goal and an assist in the season and but had his five-game point streak versus Vancouver snapped also in the last meeting. Lehtonen, meanwhile, has an active six-game win streak against the Canucks including winning both games this season. There is a possibility that Coach Lindy Ruff opts to go with Jhonas Enroth in net. Enroth has one win since joining the Stars via trade from Buffalo but that victory came in a relief effort. He has yet to win a game with Dallas in which he started.
Keys to the Game
Don't play mind games. Every team has their kryptonite and the Stars just happen to be that for the Canucks. But just because the Stars have owned the Canucks for the better part of two seasons doesn't mean they're world beaters. Just like a week ago against the Kings, Vancouver needs to dig deep and be ready to play against a team that will be a bit ornery tonight.
Get back to the shoot first mentality. A big reason for the Canucks' success during their recent three-game win streak was because they seemed to put anything and everything on net. They went away from that approach in the early going against the Avalanche and it ended up costing them. Facing a team that gives up their fair share of goals, they need to make sure it's a busy night for the opposition netminder.
Pressure the D. The game plan against the Canucks lately appears to be forecheck aggressively to prevent clean breakouts. The Jets employed that strategy to some success while the Avs managed to neutralize Vancouver for most of Thursday’s game doing the same. The Stars would be wise to take notice and try and emulate that approach.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Stars in games played in Western Canada since the start of the 2011.12 season (14-4-0).
Times the Stars have been shutout this season. The previous two times, they bounced back with wins the next outing.
Straight wins for the Stars at Rogers Arena dating back to February 15, 2013.
Straight games with a power play goal for the Canucks, their longest such streak of the season.
Game point streak for Yannick Weber (3-2-5) entering tonight's game, a new career-high. He also has a career-high three-game goal streak.
Straight wins for the Stars against the Canucks in head-to-head meetings dating back to April 18, 2013.