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Stars-Senators Preview

GAME: Dallas Stars (19-8-1) at Ottawa Senators (22-4-2).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Ottawa Senators continue to pile up victories. They also continue to pile up injuries.

The depth of the best team in the league is further challenged as they play the Dallas Stars.

The Senators already know they will be without right wing Martin Havlat for the rest of the regular season due to a shoulder injury. And top puck-handling defenseman Wade Redden likely will miss his 10th consecutive game with a sprained knee.

Ottawa also expects to be without top center Jason Spezza, who missed Monday's 6-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche with a hip injury.

Spezza, who leads the team with 32 assists and is fifth in the league with 43 points, is part of Ottawa's top line that has helped the Senators lead the league in scoring with 124 goals.

Dany Heatley, one of Spezza's linemates, snapped a 2-2 tie early in the third period with a goal and added two assists. Patrick Eaves and Brandon Bochenski, two players recalled from the minors to replace Havlat and Spezza, also tallied in a four-goal third period for the Senators, who took six of eight points on their four-game road trip (2-0-2).

"We have a lot of confidence on this team," said goalie Dominik Hasek, who has allowed just 19 goals in his last 10 starts. "We know we have skill players who can score the goals."

The Senators have converted a league-best 27.6 percent of their power plays at home (24-for-87) and have gone 9-for-26 in their last five home games with the man advantage.

Dallas saw its five-game winning streak and five-game road winning streak snapped with a 4-3 loss Wednesday to the Buffalo Sabres.

The Stars fell behind 3-0 early, rallied to make it a one-goal game with 7:01 to play but could not score the tying goal.

"It was less about effort and more about execution," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "We had some good chances and didn't score and it caught up with us."

Dallas also had its 18-game streak of scoring at least one power-play goal end after failing to convert any of its four chances.

Mike Modano extended his points streak to six games with a third-period assist and has two goals and six assists in that span. Modano has 12 goals and seven assists in 18 games against Ottawa.

Fellow center Jason Arnott has gone three games without a point and has only two assists in his last seven games.

STANDINGS: Stars - 39 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Senators - 46 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 16 goals; Modano, 18 assists and 27 points; Steve Ott, 73 PIM. Senators - Daniel Alfredsson, 21 goals; Spezza, 32 assists; Alfredsson and Heatley, 44 points; Zdeno Chara, 78 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 14): Stars - Power play: 17.4 percent (32 for 183), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.9 percent (151 for 182), 12th. Senators - Power play: 21.2 percent (38 for 179), 3rd. Penalty killing: 86.4 percent (160 for 185), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Stars - Marty Turco (16-7-1, 1 SO, 2.61 GAA); Johan Hedberg (3-1-0, 0, 3.86). Senators - Hasek (16-4-1, 3, 1.99); Ray Emery (6-0-1, 1, 2.24).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Stars, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 28, 2004; Stars, 5-3. At Dallas, Sergei Zubov snapped a 3-3 tie with 3:07 to play in the third period as part of a four-goal rally for the Stars.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Stars - 9-3-0 on the road; Senators - 12-2-0 at home.

Associated Press
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