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Capitals-Stars Preview @NHLdotcom
Capitals-Stars Preview

GAME: Washington Capitals (13-23-5) at Dallas Stars (28-12-2).

TIME: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

The Dallas Stars may be struggling to score goals in the first period of their last four games, but they have been making up for it in the second and third periods.

The Stars look to extend their four-game winning streak as they host the worst road team in the league, the Washington Capitals.

The Stars have trailed in their last four games, but have come away victorious each time. They have been outscored 5-0 in the first period of those games, but have outscored their opponents by a combined 15-3 in the second and third periods.

Philippe Boucher's power-play goal midway through the second period gave Dallas a 2-1 win Monday over the Minnesota Wild.

The Stars did not have as much work as their previous two games, when they rallied from 3-0 deficits to beat both Anaheim and Detroit.

"One-goal comebacks aren't quite as dramatic," coach Dave Tippett said.

Starting goaltender Marty Turco has struggled since signing a four-year, $22.8 million contract extension last Thursday, and was pulled from his last two starts against Anaheim and Detroit. Backup Johan Hedberg earned wins in those games with shutout relief and got the win with a start against the Wild. Hedberg is 3-0-0 in Dallas' last three games, stopping 54 of 55 shots in that span.

"He's on a roll," captain Mike Modano said. "It's nice to have a guy who can come in and pick things up if it's shaky for Marty."

Modano assisted on Boucher's game-winning goal, giving the veteran center 25 points in his last 20 games.

Sergei Zubov had two assists against the Wild, and now has one goal and nine assists during his seven-game point streak. The 13-year veteran's longest career point streak is eight games, which he has accomplished twice, most recently from Oct. 19-Nov. 1, 2002.

The Stars have won 11 of their last 14 games against the Capitals, outscoring them 20-7 in their last four meetings.

Dallas will have defenseman Janne Niinimaa in uniform against the Capitals after trading defenseman John Erskine and a second-round choice in this year's draft to the New York Islanders for Niinimaa and a fifth-round pick in next year's draft on Tuesday.

Washington has lost five straight games and has an NHL-low four road wins.

"It's getting to be a little disappointing," said center Brian Sutherby. "I guess we've just got to try and stay positive."

The Capitals came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday before losing 4-3 in overtime.

Rookie star Alexander Ovechkin had a goal and an assist against Chicago, and has eight goals and nine assists in his last 10 games.

Goalie Olaf Kolzig is 1-4-3 in his last eight games, and is winless lifetime against the Stars. The 14-year veteran is 0-8-1 against the Stars with a 3.45 goals-against average and .868 save percentage.

STANDINGS: Capitals - 31 points, 5th place, 29 PB, Southeast Division. Stars - 58 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Ovechkin, 26 goals, 25 assists and 51 points; Brendan Witt, 107 PIM. Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 23 goals; Modano and Zubov, 28 assists; Modano, 44 points; Steve Ott, 93 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Capitals - Power play: 13.4 percent (34 for 254), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.1 percent (232 for 297), 30th. Stars - Power play: 16.8 percent (46 for 274), 19th. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (226 for 268), 8th.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Kolzig (11-17-5, 0 SO, 3.38 GAA); Brent Johnson (2-5-0, 0, 4.91). Stars - Turco (20-11-2, 3, 2.57); Hedberg (8-1-0, 0, 2.58).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Stars, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 17, 2003; Stars 4-2. At Dallas, Jason Arnott had a goal and an assist and Turco made 23 saves for the Stars.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 4-12-1 on the road; Stars - 13-8-1 at home.

Associated Press
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