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Stars try to bounce back in Big Apple

by Dave Lozo

STARS (18-13-11) at RANGERS (20-17-5)

Last 10 -- Dallas 4-5-1; New York 6-2-2

Season series -- This is the first and only meeting between the teams. They met twice last season, with the Stars winning both games.

Big story
-- The points are big for two teams living close to the bottom of the playoff chases in their respective conferences. The Rangers have 45 points and are tied for seventh in the East. However, they are only four points ahead of 13th-place Florida. The Stars have two more points than the Rangers in the same amount of games played, but sit four points out of a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive West.

Team scope:

-- Consistency is the name of Dallas' game. They've had just one three-game losing streak this season, but they've also yet to put together a three-game winning streak. Their 4-0 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday was their second in a row.

"We've been what our record says we are - up and down," center Brad Richards said. "We've had some good spurts, and we've had some bad spurts."

January could be a make-or-break month for the Stars, who play 15 games. Goaltender Marty Turco, who was given Tuesday night off, should be back in net tonight for Dallas.

-- Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person? The Rangers are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games overall, but have just two wins in their last 10 games at MadisonSquareGarden. Christopher Higgins, who scored the game winning goal Monday against the Boston Bruins, feels the team is playing well despite a 6-0 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last week.

"We knew we were going to win that game - I mean, we were playing pretty well," Higgins said after scoring his first goal of the season at MSG to give the Rangers the win against Boston. "Throw out that Philadelphia game, we've been playing some pretty good hockey."

Who's hot
-- Despite the shutout at the hands of the Devils on Tuesday, left wing Loui Eriksson has 5 goals in 4 games. … Brandon Dubinsky is sizzling for the Rangers. He has 4 goals and 5 assists in his last 7 games.

Injury report
-- The Stars have no major injuries, but the Rangers will be without Vinny Prospal, who is recovering from knee surgery last week.

Stat pack
-- Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will make his 17th consecutive start, a career high. ... The Stars are just 2-5-3 in the second half of back-to-back games. ... The Rangers head to Atlanta to play the Thrashers on Thursday. It will be their sixth game in nine days.

Puck drop
-- "We've been OK, and OK is not good enough. We have to be better than OK, and we're definitely capable of it. That's what we're striving for." -- Stars coach Marc Crawford

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