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Hurricanes look to end lengthy skid in Dallas

by Eric Goodman

HURRICANES (26-23-9) at STARS (27-21-10)


Last 10: Carolina 6-4-0; Dallas 6-2-2

Season series: This is the first of two games. The Dallas Stars defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-2, in their most recent matchup on Nov. 6, 2011 in Raleigh, N.C.

Big story: The Stars have dominated the Hurricanes in Dallas with a five-game home winning streak and a 9-0-1 record in the past 10 games hosting Carolina. The last time the Hurricanes franchise beat the Stars on the road in regulation was Feb. 11, 1996 when the team was known as the Hartford Whalers.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Carolina continues its five-game road trip following a 3-2 loss at the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. Goalie Cam Ward was back after being sidelined since Dec. 31 with a lower-body injury; he surrendered three goals on 18 shots to the NHL's last-place team.

The Hurricanes remain within striking distance of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the Detroit Red Wings as of Wednesday.

"Points are huge every night," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said after his team outshot Buffalo, 38-18. "You can't let them slip away, no matter what reason."

Hurricanes left wing Nathan Gerbe needs two points to reach 100 for his NHL career.

Stars: Dallas will try to continue its winning ways at American Airlines Center as it plays seven of the next nine games there. The Stars were 4-1-1 in the six home games prior to the Olympic break. Dallas was tied with the Phoenix Coyotes in points Wednesday for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Stars captain Jamie Benn won a gold medal playing for Canada in the Olympics, but he is now focused on taking the experiences gained in Sochi and using that as a spark for his NHL team.

"I came back with confidence. I want to definitely keep it rolling into the last 24 games here with the Stars," Benn said following practice Wednesday. "I want to be the go-to guy and hopefully lead the team into the playoffs."

Who's hot: Hurricanes right wing Alexander Semin has points in nine of his past 12 games (nine goals, three assists). … Benn has an eight-game home point streak (six goals, seven assists).

Injury report: Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen (left heel surgery) is out for the season. … Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas (broken leg) has been practicing with the team but there is no timetable set for his return to the lineup.

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