STARS (16-11-1) at RANGERS (17-6-4)
TV: FS-SW, MSG
Dallas 5-4-1; New York 7-2-1
This is the first and only meeting. The Rangers won the only matchup last season, 3-2 in a shootout in Dallas. Artem Anisimov
scored the only goal in the third period to tie it, and Mats Zuccarello had the winner in the shootout.
Big Story: Brad Richards
, who signed a nine-year contract with the Rangers this summer, will face his former team for the first time. Richards spent parts of four seasons in Dallas and only reached the postseason after he was dealt from Tampa Bay in 2008. He had 70 goals and 157 assists in 220 games as a Star.
Stars: Kari Lehtonen
carried the team through the early part of the season, but he's out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Backup Andrew Raycroft
has just two wins in nine starts with 3.53 goals-against average, so coach Glen Gulutzan has gone with rookie Richard Bachman
of late. He replaced Raycroft during a 5-2 loss to the Sharks on Thursday, then made 26 saves in a 2-1 win against the Kings on Saturday. He'll likely make his second career start against the Rangers.
"I've had Bacher here for a year and he's a competitive guy and he's pretty clean when it comes to rebounds and stuff and I thought he had a real good start for us," said Gulutzan, who watched Bachman have an outstanding season at AHL Texas when both were there last year, to the Stars' website. "He looked like himself and I just told him before he went out there, 'Hey it's the same game. It's the same game you've been playing.' And he has that ability, that success he's had to get drafted and in college and AA and then AAA success. He's going through the natural progression. He's a good goaltender.
"I think he deserves another start."
Every time it looks as though the Rangers are beginning to cool off, they string together another stretch of wins. They won their second straight game Sunday, throttling the Florida Panthers 6-1 after beating the Sabres 4-1 on Saturday.
They were the fresh from the outset against the Panthers, and Tortorella believes that's a point of pride for his team, which is 24-8-3 in the second half of back-to-back games since the 2009-10 season.
"I think we raised the bar this year," goalie Henrik Lundqvist
said. "We're not satisfied playing OK and getting a point here and there. So many players in the room now are challenging each other to be better and we have four pretty good lines out there. It's a great feeling and I'm happy to see the way we're playing and the way we push ourselves through the ups and downs."
Who's Hot: Eric Nystrom
has 3 goals in his past five games for the Stars. … Derek Stepan
has 3 goals and 4 assists in his last six games for the Rangers.
Lehtonen is out, as is Adam Burish
with a broken hand. Mark Fistric
is unavailable due to suspension. … The Rangers are missing defensemen Michael Sauer
and Marc Staal
, both with concussions, while forwards Michael Rupp
and Wojtek Wolski
are rehabbing after knee and sports hernia surgery, respectively.
Richards is known as a terrific power-play quarterback, but has his changing of teams hurt the Stars and helped the Rangers? Last year, Dallas (18.0) ranked 14th; the Rangers (16.9) ranked 18th. This year, the Rangers (17.1) rank 18th; the Stars (15.4) rank 22nd.
"You create matchup problems and it takes a lot of pressure off each other. We've got faith in each other as lines and each line goes out and tries to help. It's healthy competition and everyone is going to battle to get out there and get ice time." -- Richards, on the Rangers' balanced attack