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Stars-Rangers an intriguing cross-conference battle

by Dave Lozo
RANGERS (23-15-3) at STARS (24-13-4)


Last 10 --
New York 6-2-2; Dallas 6-3-1

Season series --
This is the only meeting between the teams this season. The Rangers earned a 5-2 victory at Madison Square Garden in their only meeting last season on Jan. 6.

Big story -- It's a little early to call this a potential Stanley Cup Final preview, but it is a matchup between two playoff-caliber teams from different conferences. Both teams are playing well in their last 10 games and should make for an interesting matchup.

Team Scope:

Rangers -- Since losing sparkplug forward Ryan Callahan to a broken hand, the Rangers are a very respectable 4-2-2. The energy and resolve during their 2-1 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday made it seem as if Callahan never left. If they can carry that over against Dallas, it could mean two more points for the Blueshirts.

"We are halfway through and you can see the standings," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 31 saves in his duel with Carolina's Cam Ward. "It is getting tighter and tighter. For us, coming off two losses, it was important to come back with a win and it was a good feeling."

Stars --
The only bad news for the Stars after winning their sixth straight game on the road is this game against the Rangers will be played at American Airlines Center.

The Stars came away with a 4-2 win in Chicago on Wednesday after entering the third period tied at 2. It was their League-best 14th win when entering the third period trailing or tied.

"Going into third periods down a goal or tied, we don't talk a lot about changing our game or what we're going to do," captain Brenden Morrow said. "We just kind of go out and do it.

Who's hot -- Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky has 2 goals and 5 assists in his last 6 games. … Stars center Mike Ribeiro has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games.

Injury report -- The only new injury for the Rangers is defenseman Michal Rozsival. Coach John Tortorella said Rozsival injured his right rib area against the Hurricanes and is considered day-to-day. … Stars center Toby Peterson (lower-body) missed the Stars last game.

Stat pack -- The Rangers are on pace for 98 points, 11 more than they had last season. … The Stars are an incredible 18-2-0 when scoring the first goal, by the far the best mark in the League.

Puck drop --
"Power plays were the difference. Our power play was performing almost perfectly. We got a couple of pucks to the net with people around it and made a couple of bang-bang plays." -- Stars coach Marc Crawford, after his team went 3-for-3 on the power play Wednesday

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