Stars (20-13-4) vs. Flames (18-14-11)
6 p.m., American Airlines Center
TV: FOX Sports Southwest; NHL Network
Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM
DALLAS -- The Stars have had some big challenges this year, and they have responded in most cases.
Maybe the most impressive was a 5-1 loss in Winnipeg followed by a 3-2 win over those same Jets in Dallas two days later. It was a great test of the team's mettle, and they came through in impressive fashion.
The game tonight against the Flames will present a similar challenge.
[GAME DAY GUIDE: Everything you need to know before the Stars face Calgary tonight]
Dallas played its worst game of the year Friday against Florida, getting down 7-1 halfway through the game before finally losing 7-4. It was an embarrassing outing for the Stars (on the heels of a bad game in Tampa), and they really want to make up for it.
"We need to bounce back here before the break," said defenseman John Klingberg. "No one is happy with the results the last games."
Dallas is currently in the first wild-card spot in the West with 44 points, Calgary is in the second wild-card spot with 41 points, and Nashville is out of the playoffs with 40 points. It's certainly early, but it underscores just how much every point matters in the standings.
Video: CGY@DAL: Bowness not dwelling on loss to Florida
Obviously, we want to respond as a group against a good team's right behind us in the standings, so big two points on the line," Stars captain Jamie Benn said. "We definitely need to ramp up the energy and our details in the defensive zone. We've given up a lot of goals lately, and we know these guys can score. That's definitely going to be a focus of ours tonight."
Stars coach Rick Bowness said he takes a more step-by-step look at the challenge. The veteran of the NHL coaching game said he's put the bad in the past and simply wants to look at how his team can play its best.
"Honestly, we've moved on," Bowness said. "We've addressed it and we've moved on. Clearly, those two games were below our standards, but we're not going to dwell on it anymore. Now, the total focus is on the Calgary Flames."
"I'm not a believer in lessons learned. We're men, we're professionals, we've been around a long time. This league is all about harsh reminders that if you're not ready to compete and the other team is, there's not a team in this league that can't beat you and make you look bad. That's just a very harsh reminder."
Benn said there is one other interesting twist to this game. Because it is the last one before the holiday break, many families are in town to see the players. Benn said there will be a special audience on Sunday.
"This is a great game to play and one on the schedule that you actually circle," Benn said. "There's going to be lots of people home for Christmas here, and our building is going to be packed and we're going to try to feed off of our fans."
What to watch
With Alexander Radulov missing his second game with a lower body injury, Bowness shuffled his lines up Sunday morning. The coach split up Benn and Tyler Seguin and switching his centers around. The new lineup has Benn playing on a line with Jason Dickinson and Corey Perry, and Joe Pavelski centering Roope Hintz and Seguin.
"I just liked the look of that Benn, Dickinson, Corey Perry line. They're big and they're heavy and they just give us a different look," Bowness said. "We're trying to move Pavs to the middle, and Seggy can play right wing, it doesn't bother him. Roope needs to play a few more minutes, so it just gives us better balance."
Benn said switching lines has become usual business for this team.
"We're just trying to find some chemistry with other people," he said. "It's nothing new to us."
Video: CGY@DAL: Klingberg, Stars look to bounce back at home
Bishop back in net
Ben Bishop will be in goal. He is coming off a game where he allowed six goals on 20 shots. He is 9-6-2 in his career against the Flames with a 1.97 GAA and .927 save percentage.
It will be interesting to see how many minutes Hintz plays. He started the season with several games in the 17's. More recently, he has been around 14 minutes. He played 12:50 on Friday.
Video: DAL@FLA: Sekera comes to Bishop's aid in net
By the numbers
The Flames have allowed the most shorthanded goals in the NHL at seven. They have scored one. The Stars have scored three shorthanded goals and allowed just one -- that came in Friday's game at Florida.
The Flames have allowed 43 second period goals, sixth-most in the NHL. They also have been outscored by 12 goals during second periods this season. Dallas has outscored opponents 32-30 in second periods.
John Klingberg entered the season plus-45 in his career, leading all Stars players since he joined the team in 2014-15. He is a team-worst minus-10 this season, including coming off a minus-3 against Florida Friday.
He said it
"You see that they're up 7-1 -- yeah, it was nice we win the third period, but they stopped playing. They stopped playing to the level they were playing at for 40 minutes. We're not going to pat ourselves on the back and say, 'Wow.'"
-- Bowness on his team's ability to score three late goals in Friday's 7-4 loss at Florida
Stars projected lineup
Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski - Tyler Seguin
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Jamie Benn - Jason Dickinson - Corey Perry
Mattias Janmark - Justin Dowling - Denis Gurianov
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen
Roman Polak - Andrej Sekera
Scratched: D Taylor Fedun
Injured: RW Alexander Radulov (lower body), D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), C Martin Hanzal (back)
Don't miss your chance to see the Stars take on the Calgary Flames as they return home to American Airlines Center tonight at 6 p.m. The first 5,000 kids receive a Miro Heiskanen youth jersey presented by AT&T. 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.