BRUINS (2-3-0) at STARS (2-0-3)
Season series: This is the only meeting this season between these clubs. They met once in 2008-09, and Boston earned a 5-1 victory on home ice on Nov. 1, 2008. Marco Sturm scored twice, Blake Wheeler had 2 assists, and Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel and Mark Stuart added goals. Goaltender Tim Thomas made 35 saves for the win. Sean Avery scored for Dallas, and Marty Turco stopped 20 shots.
Big story: The Stars are one of only two teams remaining without a defeat in regulation and are riding high after a dominating 6-0 shutout of Nashville at home on Wednesday. They are one point behind Los Angeles for the Pacific Division lead.
Bruins: Boston is hitting the road for the first time this season after starting with a five-game homestand. This road trip will also land the Bruins in Phoenix on Saturday, the first time they play back-to-back games.
Coach Claude Julien tweaked his top two lines at practice earlier this week and may try them in this game. The new combinations have Marc Savard centering Marco Sturm and Michael Ryder, and David Krejci flanked by Milan Lucic and Blake Wheeler.
"It's just a little tweak for no other reason than to see if that will help maybe shake things up a little bit and get some attention and maybe spark something," Julien told the Boston Globe. "I don't think it's directed necessarily at anybody except for trying to get the best four lines possible."
Expect Tim Thomas (1-2-0, 4.00 GAA, .868 SVP) to be back in net for Boston. He hasn't played since Oct. 8 after making the first three starts of the season. Rookie backup Tuukka Rask (1-1-0, 3.39 GAA, .883 SVP) started the last two games, a win against the Islanders and a loss to the Avalanche.
Stars: "We really wanted to establish our presence here at home," Stars coach Marc Crawford told the Dallas Morning News following Wednesday's lopsided win against the Predators.
The line of James Neal (0-3-3), Brad Richards (1-2-3) and Loui Eriksson (2-1-3) totaled 9 points. The other top line of Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Jamie Benn then provided two goals. Morrow had two goals, and Benn and Ribeiro had two assists apiece.
"I thought Loui Eriksson was extremely good, as was James Neal," Crawford said. "Brad Richards has a good way with both of them. He is no nonsense when he's on the bench, and I think that helps [Eriksson and Neal] to focus in on what it is they have to do on the ice."
Veteran winger Jere Lehtinen will be playing for the third time and has 1 assist after missing the first three games with a hip/groin injury. He has played only 48 games each of the last two seasons and the Stars need Lehtinen's offense and leadership, especially while all-franchise center Mike Modano is out with a rib injury.
Who's hot: For Boston, center Marc Savard has 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in his last four games, and winger Michael Ryder had 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in his last four games. For Dallas, center Brad Richards has points in all five games for the Stars, and has scored at least a goal and an assist in each of the last three games. Center Mike Ribeiro has points in four consecutive games and at least 2 points in each of the last three games. Left wing Brenden Morrow has three multi-point games -- a 2-1-3 performance against Edmonton, a 0-2-2 showing against Vancouver, and a 2-0-2 outing against Nashville.
Injury report: For Boston, defenseman Dennis Wideman is day-to-day with a shoulder injury. For Dallas, Mike Modano is day-to-day with a rib injury, and center Steve Ott is day-to-day with a pulled oblique muscle.
Stat pack: Other than a 7-2 win against Carolina on Oct. 3, the Bruins held the lead for only 5:40 in their other four home games to start the season, according to the Boston Globe. They trailed for 181 minutes, 24 seconds, and gave up 19 goals for an average of 3.80 per game. They allowed 2.37 goals per game at home last season.
Puck drop: "Maybe we've tried to put on too much of a show, trying to impress our fans. Yeah, sure, we have a good team, but it takes a lot more than just throwing our sticks out there to think we're going to win." -- Mark Recchi to the Boston Globe
-- Rocky Bonanno, NHL.com