Last 10: Dallas 1-8-1; Detroit 6-4-0
Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the season between these teams. The Stars took the first two, with Loui Eriksson providing the overtime goal in a 4-3 victory on Dec. 19 in Detroit, but the Red Wings got payback 10 days later, getting a Patrick Eaves hat trick and scoring four unanswered goals in the third period for a 7-3 win in Dallas.
Big story: In a matter of weeks, the Stars have gone from a top-three seed in the Western Conference by virtue of leading the Pacific Division to outside looking in at the teams that would qualify if the Stanley Cup Playoffs began today. Fortunately for Dallas, there are still six weeks left in the regular season and they're right in the middle of a pack of eight teams all within four points of each other entering Thursday's action.
Stars: Heading into Detroit trying to snap a five-game losing streak is not an ideal situation, but Dallas played probably its best 60 minutes of late in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to New Jersey. It was a game that could have gone either way, but the Stars got into penalty trouble in the third period and got a bad break when Ilya Kovalchuk broke his stick on a shot from the point and the puck trickled to Nick Palmieri, who scored with 5:37 remaining. Kari Lehtonen stopped the other 22 shots he faced.
"I loved our commitment tonight, I loved the way our guys battled," coach Marc Crawford said. "It is disheartening that we ended up losing in that fashion, but you have to take the good right now and there was a lot of pretty good tonight."
Red Wings: Returning to Joe Louis Arena after sweeping a three-game road trip and running its overall win streak to five straight, Detroit was edged 4-3 Tuesday by a surging San Jose squad. A pair of goals by Danny Cleary erased one-goal deficits for the Red Wings, but Devin Setoguchi went on to score two of his own for the Sharks, and a late Henrik Zetterberg tally wasn't enough to salvage at least a point.
"I thought we started good," Cleary told the Detroit Free Press. "We were in the box a little too much in the first. They got some momentum, got that goal. They played well. We didn't play great at all. We had some chances offensively, but I think defensively, we were too loose."
Who's hot: Cleary has 4 goals and 2 assists over his last four games.
Injury report: Dallas is awaiting the returns of top forward Brad Richards (concussion) and defenseman Nicklas Grossman (hip), while forwards Krystofer Barch (orbital bone), Adam Burish (orbital bone) and Raymond Sawada (shoulder) are on injured reserve. … Eaves (lower body) and forward Valtteri Filppula (knee) are day-to-day. Forward Mike Modano (wrist) hopes to be back this weekend. Goalie Chris Osgood (sports hernia) is skating, but like Modano remains on injured reserve.
Stat pack: The Stars are 4-for-41 on the power play in going 2-10-1 over the last 13 games. They were 0-for-4 on Tuesday, failing to capitalize on a double minor in the second period. … In the past week, Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi played in his 1,000th NHL game against the Wild and defenseman Ruslan Salei played in his 900th game against the Sharks.
Puck drop: Defenseman Alex Goligoski, obtained from Pittsburgh on Monday for James Neal and Matt Niskanen, arrived in Dallas in time to debut with the team on Tuesday. He played over 23 minutes and took a pair of minor penalties, including the one that led to Palmieri's goal. With a game under his belt, Goligoski hopes Thursday brings a better team result.
"I think going into Detroit is as good an opportunity as ever to get a good win against a good team in their building, in a tough atmosphere," Goligoski said. "Those are the kind of things that gets teams going, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity to go in there and win."