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Stars have chance to make up ground in division starting with Wild

In need of points, Dallas plays four of its next five games against Central opponents

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
Stars (4-8-1) vs. Wild (4-7-0)

7:30 p.m., American Airlines Center

TV: FOX Sports Southwest PLUS

Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM

 

DALLAS -- The most simple way for the Stars to make the playoffs is to be in the top three in the Central Division. With four of the next five games coming against divisional opponents, gathering points would be a good idea.

The Central has the reputation of being one of the best divisions in hockey, but is off to a bad start this season. Four Central teams are among the bottom 11 in the league and would miss the playoffs at this time. Fact is, seven Pacific teams are ahead of the Stars heading into Tuesday's games, so there is a lot of ground to make up in all regards.

That said, if you beat the Central teams, that helps immensely.

Dallas last season was 14-10-2 against Central opponents, the second best intra-divisional record behind Chicago. Beating the Wild, which is 0-4-0 against the Central so far this season, would be a good start when games against Colorado (twice) and Winnipeg await on the near horizon.

Dallas has won four straight against the Wild, so there is an opportunity to take advantage. However, Minnesota is coming off a 5-1 win over Los Angeles and has won three of its past four games.

 

[GAME DAY GUIDE: Everything you need to know for Stars vs. Wild]

 

Dallas is coming off a 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh in which the team collapsed in the third period. With the score tied 0-0 after two periods and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in the locker room after getting hit in the face, Dallas was outshot 16-3 in the final 20 minutes and looked terrible in the process.

"You saw the team that has won two Stanley Cups and their mindset to start to third," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. "And they didn't have their best player. Crosby was in the locker room still and they came out and shoved it right down our throat. We never recovered. We never responded."

The Stars held a meeting before practice on Monday to address the lack of response. Montgomery then changed lines around and the team called up Nick Caamano from the AHL.

Both teams have struggled offensively this year, so it will be interesting to see if either can generate any goal scoring. Dallas ranks last in goals per game at 1.92, 29th in shots on goal per game at 27.8 and 30th in power play success at 8.3 percent.

Minnesota ranks 29th in scoring at 2.36 goals per game, 23rd in shots on goal per game at 29.5 and 23rd in power play success at 15.8 percent.

 

What to watch

Might as well make the comparison between Mats Zuccarello, who the Stars failed to sign, and Joe Pavelski, who the Stars signed instead.

Dallas received a nice boost from Zuccarello last season after acquiring him from the New York Rangers. However, he wanted a longer term contract than the Stars wanted to give, and if he signed with the Stars, Dallas would have surrendered an additional first round pick. So the two sides parted ways. Zuccarello ended up signing a five-year deal for $30 million with the Wild.

Dallas then turned around and signed Pavelski to a three-year deal for $21 million.

Both players are off to slow starts. Zuccarello has no goals, one assist, and is minus-4 in seven games while battling some injuries. Pavelski has two goals, one assist and is minus-2 in 13 games.

 

Seguin expected to play despite illness

Ben Bishop gets the start in goal. He is 6-4-0 in his career against the Wild with a 1.48 GAA and .945 save percentage.

Tyler Seguin missed the morning skate dealing with sickness, but is expected to play tonight. It appears Montgomery will put Jamie Benn and Corey Perry on a line with Seguin in hopes of creating some offense. Seguin played beside Denis Gurianov last game, but that experiment lasted for only one night.

Pavelski and Alexander Radulov will then flank Roope Hintz, and Jason Dickinson will center Mattias Janmark and Gurianov on what could be a nice speed line.

Caamano is expected to play on a fourth line with Andrew Cogliano and Radek Faksa. Justin Dowling looks like a healthy scratch.

Caamano has one goal in six NHL games this season. He has one assist in two AHL games.

"Speed, energy," Montgomery said when asked what Caamano adds. "Not only what you see on the ice, but the energy he brings to the room. He just has an infectious attitude, the smile on his face that brightens the room."

 

By the numbers

 

19

The Stars have allowed 19 goals in the third period, third-most in the NHL. They have scored nine. Minnesota has allowed 17 goals in the second period, third-most in the NHL. They have scored seven.

 

35

Seguin has 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 29 career games against the Wild. He is plus-9 in that span.

 

1

That's the amount of wins for the Wild in seven road games this season. Minnesota has scored at an average of 1.43 goals per game away from home while allowing 3.71.

 

He said it

"In particular, speed at the line together and then knowing our outs, the person with the puck knowing their outs when the pressure comes, where it should go: puck to the goal line, puck to the middle, reverse it up top. That's primarily execution, attitude and work ethic. If it's any part of our power play, it's work ethic."

-- Montgomery on a power play that ranks 30th in success rate at 8.3 percent this season.

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Corey Perry

Joe Pavelski - Roope Hintz - Alexander Radulov

Mattias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Denis Gurianov

Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Nick Caamano

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg

Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen

Joel Hanley - Taylor Fedun

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: D Justin Dowling.

Injuries: D Andrej Sekera (overall soreness), LW Blake Comeau (lower body), D Roman Polak (sternum), D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), C Martin Hanzal (back).

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.

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