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Stars-Blackhawks Preview

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Stars-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: Dallas Stars (20-8-1) at Chicago Blackhawks (13-16-2).

TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Dallas Stars are again faced with playing on back-to-back nights. They probably don't mind too much.

The rolling Stars hope to continue their success in such situations, opening a second straight set of road games on consecutive days as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks.

One night after losing 4-3 in Buffalo, Dallas rebounded to beat Ottawa 2-0 on Thursday night, the second shutout of the season for goalie Marty Turco. The win improved the Stars' record to 6-0 when playing the second of games on back-to-back days.

"I really think a lot of it has to do with the players' commitment to off-ice conditioning," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said, whose team is 2-1 on its six-game road trip. "(Strength and conditioning coach) J.J. McQueen does just a heck of a job with the guys. Two games in two days and you'll see most of our guys working out right here after the game."

Jere Lehtinen scored a goal for the fourth straight game Thursday and leads the Stars with 17. Mike Modano was credited with an assist on the goal after the game, extending his points streak to seven games.

The Stars, who will visit Minnesota on Monday, play on back-to-back days nine more times this season.

"It's an instinctive thing when you come back to the rink," Turco said about playing on two straight nights. "When the mind and the body is all one and the thinking is out of the game, and you know where to be and you trust in everybody else, it's going to be easy, you just go out and do it. ... We pride ourselves on showing up on both nights."

Dallas has won 14 of its last 17 games, a run that began with a 9-1 home victory over the Blackhawks on Nov. 4.

Chicago avoided a third straight loss on Friday night with a 5-1 home win over St. Louis. Five players scored for the Blackhawks, who led 3-1 going into the third period despite being outshot by the Blues 23-9.

Nikolai Khabibulin finished with 32 saves for Chicago.

"Obviously, we didn't generate as many shots as we wanted to in the first couple of periods," said Mark Bell, who scored his team-leading 13th goal. "But Khabby (Khabibulin) won the game for us."

Khabibulin has won his last four starts at home, allowing only five goals.

His team, though, hasn't fared well against the Stars.

Dallas is unbeaten in its last 11 games against Chicago, with nine wins and two ties. The Blackhawks haven't beaten the Stars since a 3-2 victory on Jan. 20, 2002.

STANDINGS: Stars - 41 points, 1st place (tied), Pacific Division. Blackhawks - 28 points, 3rd place, 19 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Lehtinen, 17 goals; Modano, 19 assists and 28 points; Steve Ott, 73 PIM. Blackhawks - Bell, 13 goals; Tyler Arnason, 17 assists; Bell and Arnason, 25 points; Matthew Barnaby, 75 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Stars - Power play: 17.1 percent (33 for 193), 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.2 percent (154 for 185), 12th. Blackhawks - Power play: 14.2 percent (26 for 183), 27th (tied). Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (208 for 247), 6th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Stars - Turco (17-7-1, 2 SO, 2.51 GAA); Johan Hedberg (3-1-0, 3.86). Blackhawks - Khabibulin (11-14-1, 3.19); Craig Anderson (2-2-1, 4.16).

SEASON SERIES: Stars, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 4; Stars, 9-1. At Dallas, Stu Barnes had a hat trick and Jason Arnott had two goals and an assist as the Stars matched their most goals since the franchise moved to Texas.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Stars - 10-3-0 on the road; Blackhawks - 7-4-0 at home.


Associated Press
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