DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars have won six straight on the road, including a recent three-game sweep through Western Canada that saw them beat the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames on consecutive nights before finishing the trip with a 2-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
However, the Stars have played just seven times at home, fewest in the League. In Dallas’ most recent home game, a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 9, the Stars played even with Chicago for most of the first two periods before Patrick Kane's power-play goal gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes. Chicago netted two more goals late to make the final score a bit deceiving.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff wants to see a similar effort from his team Thursday against the New York Rangers, minus the crucial error by the penalty kill that led to Kane's eventual game-winner.
"Obviously we've got to do a lot of the right things," Ruff said. "Our last home game I thought we had real good energy, we came out real well, we made a couple mental mistakes and I'd like to stay away from those."
Ruff also would like improvement from the power play, which enters play Thursday 27th in the NHL at 11.4 percent and a league-worst 0-for-24 at home.
"We need to take advantage. I think on a whole our special teams need to improve," Ruff said. "The power play allows you in some key situations to put a team away. We've had some great opportunities. We need our special teams on a whole to be better and we're going to continue to work at that."
Stars rookie forward Alex Chiasson went through the morning skate with no issues after taking a puck to the face during practice Wednesday. He'll wear a full face shield Thursday. Chiasson, who had five goals and four assists through his first nine games, has three points -- all assists -- in the past 11 games.
"There was nothing that would cause any concern," Ruff said of Chiasson. "We were worried about it [Wednesday] but he's OK."
However, veteran forward Ray Whitney, who traveled with the team on its recent road trip but did not play, will miss a fourth straight game with a groin injury.
"[Whitney] is getting closer," Ruff said. "He's had two practices that we've ramped up a certain degree. He still hasn't done any of the heavy stopping and starting."
Kari Lehtonen will start in net for Dallas for the 13th consecutive game.
New York will make one change to its defense pairings as Michael Del Zotto, a healthy scratch the past three games, will come back into the lineup with Justin Falk going out.
Henrik Lundqvist will make a third straight start in net.
The game will mark the first time Rangers center Brad Richards will play in Dallas since he departed the Stars via free agency after the 2010-11 season. Richards had come to Dallas in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning in February 2008 and spent three-and-a-half seasons with the Stars before signing with the Rangers two summers ago.
"It was great when I first got here," Richards said of his time in Dallas. "We went on a good run, lost to the Stanley Cup champions in six games [in the Western Conference Final]. I kind of thought that would happen a little more than it did and that got frustrating with ownership and all that stuff. They're back on track and it's good to see."
Here are the projected lineups:
Rick Nash - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello
Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Carl Hagelin
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
John Moore - Michael Del Zotto
Scratched: Justin Falk, J.T. Miller
Injured: Taylor Pyatt (concussion)
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel - Vernon Fiddler - Rich Peverley
Dustin Jeffrey - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Garbutt
Brenden Dillon - Stephane Robidas
Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley
Sergei Gonchar - Jordie Benn
Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Lane MacDermid, Aaron Rome
Injured: Ray Whitney (groin)