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Stars want a win before long break

by Steve Hunt /
DALLAS -- After playing host to the New Jersey Devils tonight at American Airlines Center, the Dallas Stars won't hit the ice again for six days when Colorado visits Friday. So, it's imperative that Dallas gets a win on a night where current general manager Joe Nieuwendyk will be honored for his selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"Yeah, that's the key. It's going to be a tough game," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We don't play until Friday, so it would be nice to have a solid effort on Saturday night here with everything finished."
Dallas comes into this one on a bit of a down note after losing 5-3 to the Kings on Thursday night, their first home defeat of the year. While the Stars sit at 7-3-0 through 10 games, they would definitely like to bounce back at home.
"Looking at the schedule and looking ahead, you don't want to have a week to dwell on a loss that's for sure. It's a good opportunity," Stars defenseman Trevor Daley said. "It'll be fun to see a team you don't see very often. I think we only play them twice this year so this is one of two. I think I've only played against them four or five times in my career, so I'm excited to play against some new faces and see how we do."
After the loss to Los Angeles two days ago, Gulutzan held an optional practice Friday in Frisco, Texas. One player who didn't participate was center Steve Ott, currently tied for third on the team with seven points. Ott took a skate to the hip in the loss to the Kings but according to the Stars head coach, he'll be ready to go for tonight's game.
"He came out for a bit [this morning]," Gulutzan said. "He's going to be ready gametime. It was good to give him that day after, a day off. He'll be ready for tonight."
Tonight marks Dallas' first game against an Eastern Conference foe. The Stars were 11-5-2 against the East last season and split their two games against the Devils, winning 4-3 in overtime on the road in Oct. 2010 while New Jersey won 1-0 at Dallas in February.
"We've watched them on this road swing and we know that they work hard. We were quite impressed with them in L.A. and even in Phoenix," Gulutzan said. "They're stingy, they play hard and they have some skilled guys up front who can do some damage. We've got to play a real solid defensive game. Against teams like New Jersey, we've got to make sure we play stingy as well and give ourselves a chance to win."
One part of the Dallas game that remains a work in progress is the power play, which is 2-for-15 during the last five games. Despite those numbers, the man in charge feels that unit's performance is definitely on a recent upswing.
"I see it moving up. If you want to look short-term, we were 1-for-5 [against L.A. on Thursday], that's 20 percent," Gulutzan said. "That's better. I think we're moving ahead. As long as our record's good, our power play's still a work in progress but we're getting better."
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