It's no big secret that the Dallas Stars
(24-21-2, 50 points) need a win in a big way. Dallas is currently on a five-game winless streak, a run that has seen both their record at home and on the road fall below .500.
The Stars have also not won at home since Jan. 7, going 0-2-1 in their last four at American Airlines Center and making tonight's game with the Anaheim Ducks
"We've played a few games here through this stretch with some good intensity. The way Anaheim's playing we're going to have to come out hard," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We're looking for a 60-minute effort from all our guys."
Dallas will get a boost from the return of top centerman Mike Ribeiro
, who has missed the last seven games with a knee injury.
Gulutzan said Ribeiro is ready to go, but the veteran center wasn't quite so sure.
"Good, it feels good out there. Just see after the warm-up (before the game)," Ribeiro said. "This morning, it was a little tight when I got up. First 10 minutes, it's tight and then after I'm warmed up, it felt better."
And the one thing the veteran center wants to bring is energy to his club.
"You need to win no matter what or get a point here and there, scratch it out. It's going to be important before the break to get a win to boost the team with a positive before the break. February's going to be crazy for us," Ribeiro said. "It's going to be important to finish (the first half) the right way. It's important for us to win to just get that positive vibe back. If I can play tonight, hopefully I can bring energy for the guys and get guys excited for the game."
However, the Stars will be without captain Brenden Morrow
, who is currently bothered by a neck issue, something that reared its head earlier this season and put him out for six games.
With Morrow out, Dallas called up Matt Fraser
from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League who had 21 goals and 35 points in 40 games in the AHL. Fraser will skate on the Stars' fourth line alongside Jake Dowell
and Tomas Vincour
"It's exciting," Fraser said of making his NHL debut. "You dream of this day since you start playing hockey. Obviously, it's a step in the right direction for me personally. It's just a small taste. My goal is to be a professional in the NHL."
Dallas will also still be without center Jamie Benn
, who will miss a fourth straight game after having his appendix out nine days ago. Benn however will likely skate in the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Ottawa.
While the Stars players know they want more than anything to head into the All-Star break on a winning note, they also realize they’re facing a Ducks team that is unbeaten in their last nine (8-0-1).
"Obviously, they've got those big three guys (Ryan Getzlaf
, Corey Perry
and Bobby Ryan
), those three righty skill players, big guys," Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski
said. "More importantly, they're playing really good, something like 8-1-1 in their last 10. They're playing obviously their best hockey of the year. Got off to a tough start, but they're kind of rounding into form I guess. It'll be a good test for us tonight."