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Stars look to keep momentum rolling ahead of Winter Classic

Khudobin expected to start for Dallas, which is coming off a shootout win over Colorado on Saturday

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
Stars (21-14-4) at Coyotes (21-15-4)

7 p.m., Gila River Arena

TV: FOX Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- This is an interesting statistical battle between two teams who are very similar.

Dallas ranks second in goals against at 2.49 per game and 27th in goals for at 2.59. Arizona ranks third in goals against at 2.53 per game and 23rd in goals at 2.70.

They are tied for the NHL lead in save percentage at .922.

Arizona is 17th in shots for at 31.1 and 22nd in shots against at 32.3. Dallas is 18th in shots for at 30.8 and 20th in shots against at 31.9. The Coyotes are better on the power play at 13th (Dallas is 23rd), but the Stars are better on the penalty kill at eighth (Arizona is 13th).

As for records, they both have 46 points with Dallas fourth in the West and Arizona fifth.

Video: COL@DAL: Bowness credits 'dangerous' Avs after win

They also both played Saturday (Dallas beat Colorado, 3-2 in a shootout and Arizona lost 4-1 at Vegas) and both traveled back to Arizona, so this really should be a balanced look at two teams hoping to accomplish great things later in the season.

The Stars will play the Winter Classic on Wednesday at Cotton Bowl Stadium, and that could be a distraction, but this team has done a good job of handling adversity and distractions all season.

"We're not playing well enough that we can afford any distractions," said interim head coach Rick Bowness. "You can't start looking toward tomorrow until you get through today."

Players agree with the philosophy. Joe Pavelski said as good as Saturday's shootout win over Colorado was, the game at Arizona is just as important.

"Our game was in a tough spot going into the break. I could tell even yesterday in practice it was just a little different feel out there," Pavelski said. "We come out today and at times you feel really good out there. I expect we will be even better tomorrow. It's a back to back but at least we had a good skate. We will see how it goes, but we need another team effort. These points are huge right now."

 

What to watch

As odd as it sounds, it will be interesting to watch Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry in this game. The two free agents came to Dallas after long stints in the Pacific Division, so they are quite comfortable playing the Coyotes.

Pavelski has played 68 games against Arizona and tallied 55 points. His 31 goals against the Coyotes are the most he has scored against any team in his career. Perry has played 67 games against Arizona and has 55 points. His 27 goals against the Coyotes are the most he has scored against any team in his career.

Neither player is lighting it up this season, and they combined have four points in the past seven games, but it should be worth watching.

Video: COL@DAL: Pavelski hopes Stars build on winning effort

 

Khudobin expected to start in net

Anton Khudobin should be in goal. He ranks third in the NHL in save percentage at .928 and fifth in goals against average at 2.31. He has not played the Coyotes much, going 1-2-0 in his career with a 3.74 GAA and .898 save percentage.

The Stars have used Taylor Fedun and Justin Dowling to bring in fresh legs on recent back-to-backs, and both are ready to go.

Arizona is without goalie Darcy Kuemper, who has a lower body injury. Antti Raanta started Saturday at Vegas and allowed four goals on 16 shots before being pulled. Adin Hill came on in relief and stopped all 20 shots he faced.

Video: CHI@DAL: Khudobin sprawls out to stop multiple shots

 

By the numbers
Minus-18

Coyotes forward Phil Kessel is worst on the team and 13th worst in the NHL at minus-18. He has eight goals among 21 points.

 

22

Former Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski has 22 points and is second on the Coyotes in time on ice at 23:08 per game.

 

5

Jamie Benn has tallied five assists in his past three games against the Coyotes and has 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) over his past 10 games.

 

He said it

"We were talking and wondering why we were giving up so many shots. Our forward were doing a pretty good job blocking shots, but we spend a lot of unnecessary time in our zone. There are bad clears or soft clears or icing pucks when we shouldn't ice it.  I think some of that is self-inflicted, that's our problem so we can clean it up. We can get better if we can spend less time in our zone, that will cut down on our shots against."

-- Bowness

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov

Mattias Janmark - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski

Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau

Denis Gurianov - Jason Dickinson - Corey Perry

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg

Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen

Andrej Sekera - Roman Polak

Anton Khudobin

Ben Bishop

Scratched: D Taylor Fedun, C Justin Dowling

Injured: D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), C Martin Hanzal (back)

Don't miss your chance to see the Stars take on the Detroit Red Wings at American Airlines Center on Friday, Jan. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets now!

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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