The Dallas Stars
end a two-game road trip Monday in Carolina (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2), and could return home with something special -- sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division.
The Stars have won three in a row -- all by one goal -- to jump into a tie with the Coyotes for the top spot in the division with 27 points.
A big reason for the Stars' rise has been goalie Kari Lehtonen
, who has won his last two starts, allowing just three goals on 63 shots.
"Last year we got a taste of his potential, and this year he's just been tremendous," Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen
said of Lehtonen, who was acquired last season from Atlanta. "He competes on every puck and is fundamentally sound. You don't have to worry when you have a goalie that is playing really solid behind you. The whole team has confidence in him, and he's given the whole team confidence to do what we need to do with the puck. We don't have to be nervous."
The Hurricanes, who have one win in their last five games, will try to ruin the Stars' party. Captain Eric Staal
will be leading them. The center has points in eight of his last 10 games, including a goal and an assist Sunday against the Capitals.
And then at 11 p.m., fans can catch "NHL Overtime" on Versus, where a panel of hockey experts will go over all the night's action.