DALLAS -- After snapping their longest losing streak in almost 18 years, the Dallas Stars now look to start a new streak when the Boston Bruins visit American Airlines Center on Thursday.
Dallas beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 on Tuesday to snap a six-game losing streak, the club’s longest since the 1995-96 season. It was the Stars' first win of 2014 and a result coach Lindy Ruff would like to build on when Dallas concludes a three-game homestand.
"The opportunity's right in front of us and we can really dictate our own destiny, where we end up," Ruff said. "That's going take a big commitment. That's going to take a lot of hard work. We have guys that need to go above and beyond here. If we're going to make our push, our push has to be now."
Ruff will use the same forward lines and defense pairings from the win against the Oilers, and Kari Lehtonen again will start in net.
Stars captain Jamie Benn was one of several players who did not take part in the optional morning skate Thursday, but Benn will occupy his usual spot on Dallas' top line, alongside Tyler Seguin and Erik Cole, come game time.
Boston coach Claude Julien will employ the same forward lines and defense pairs he used in a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. Tuukka Rask will start in net for a sixth straight game.
Dallas got the better of the Bruins in their previous game this season, a 3-2 shootout win in Boston on Nov. 5, so Julien is aware of what a formidable foe the Stars are.
"They've got good speed," Julien said. "They've got skill. They can score some goals. They're very capable of that and they've got great goaltending as well. The one thing you have to do is earn those goals. We've just got to be ready to work hard around the net area, score goals and be stingy because we know it's not going to be easy to score."
Playing in Dallas will be a homecoming for Bruins right wings Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith, who were traded to Boston on July 4 in the deal that sent Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas.
Eriksson was a 2003 second-round pick (No. 33) of the Stars, played 501 games for the franchise and skated in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game during his time in Dallas. He admitted returning was a bit strange.
"It's a little bit weird," he said. "Coming in here and walking into the other locker room. I've never been in [the visiting] locker room so it's kind of weird. But it's nice to be here and I'm excited to get going [Thursday]."
Smith played 40 games for Dallas after being chosen in the third round (No. 69) of the 2009 draft. He said he's relishing the unique experience of returning to Dallas for the first time.
"It's a little different," he said. "I think the weirdest part of it was just flying into Dallas. I hadn't been here since last year so that was a little weird. But showing up to the rink, weird going to a different dressing room. Kind of a little lost over on this side but it should be fun and I'm excited for the experience to come back and play Dallas."
Here are the projected lineups for both teams:
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Carl Soderberg - Ryan Spooner - Loui Eriksson
Shawn Thornton - Gregory Campbell - Daniel Paille
Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Adam McQuaid - Torey Krug
Matt Bartkowski - Kevan Miller
Injured: Jordan Caron (back), Dougie Hamilton (concussion), Chris Kelly (fractured right fibula), Dennis Seidenberg (torn right ACL/MCL)
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Erik Cole
Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff - Rich Peverley - Valeri Nichushkin
Ray Whitney - Vernon Fiddler - Alex Chiasson
Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley
Brenden Dillon - Jordie Benn
Kevin Connauton - Sergei Gonchar
Scratched: Dustin Jeffrey
Injured: Stephane Robidas (leg), Aaron Rome (lower body)