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Stars looking forward to home cooking

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- After playing on the road 10 times in their first 15 games, the Dallas Stars (8-6-1, 17 points) are now looking forward to the start of a three-game homestand on Sunday afternoon against the Calgary Flames (4-5-3, 11 points) at American Airlines Center. The contest Sunday also marks the start of a stretch where Dallas will play nine of their next 13 games on home ice.

"We're kind of looking at this as a road game, as a quick turnaround. We're traveling, we're back home and we play early," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We have a day off tomorrow but that's tomorrow so today we've got a good work day ahead of us."

Dallas is 3-1-1 at home this season but heads into Sunday just two days removed from a 4-3 comeback win at Vancouver, a solid ending to a three-game swing through Western Canada that saw the Stars take two out of three.

Besides coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the second period, the other big story to come out of the win Friday was the strong showing of backup goaltender Richard Bachman, who stopped 18 of 21 Vancouver shots for his first win of the season. Bachman came on with 6:27 left in the first period after starter Kari Lehtonen had to leave the ice with an apparent groin injury.

Bachman will start between the pipes for Dallas on Sunday, his second start of the year and his coach couldn't be happier with how he performed under duress on the Canucks' home ice to help swing the road trip in the Stars; favor.

"I've always said his strength has been his resiliency," Gulutzan said. "He's a strong mental goalie and I've had him long enough to know that. He had a subpar outing in Calgary. He got in a hostile environment in Vancouver, but he really settled in. I think that was a big step for him."

The lone blemish from that road trip was a 7-4 loss at Calgary on Feb. 13, a game where Dallas was blitzed by the Flames early on and found themselves down 3-0 just 10 minutes into the game. Of course, the Stars don't want to see history repeat itself on Sunday.

"We know we didn't have a good start there in their building. Today we have to come out really strong, hard and play a full game," Stars wing Loui Eriksson said. "We're still battling for two points so we've got to keep doing the right things."

In the wake of the big win against the Canucks, Gulutzan will go with the same line combinations and defensive pairings Sunday against the Flames. One change he made in Vancouver was moving rookie wing Reilly Smith up to the second line alongside Derek Roy and Eriksson, a move that helped Smith score his first career goal late in the first period.

"It's a lot easier playing with those guys there. They're very talented. They create space and they create more time for me. Just playing with them, I want to give them the puck and let them do what they do," Smith said. "I chip in here and there when I can."

Last season, the moniker attached to the Stars was pesky, but after the huge comeback victory over the Canucks at Rogers Arena, one Dallas regular feels his club might be more resilient than anything.

"We're definitely finding ways to win games here lately. I think the Vancouver game was good," Eriksson said. "We were down 3-1 before the third period. It was a big comeback. For sure it was a big win for us."

Calgary will go with Joey MacDonald, who will be making his first start for the Flames, on Sunday between the pipes while rookie Daniel Taylor, who was recalled from the American Hockey League on Saturday, will serve as the backup netminder.

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