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Preview: Stars open three-game homestand against Pittsburgh

Dallas looks for a fifth straight win as it takes on the surging Penguins

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge
Pittsburgh Penguins at Dallas Stars

Friday, February 9
7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

 

About the Stars

The Stars (32-19-4) won their fourth straight game, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2, at United Center on Thursday. Goaltender Ben Bishop stopped 37 shots and Tyler Seguin scored two goals as Dallas pushed its road points streak to six games (5-0-1) and swept the season series from Chicago.

It's a big win," Bishop said. "We're on a back-to-back, and we've got Pittsburgh back home waiting for us, so it's important to get that first win, those two points. To beat these guys at home is always a great feeling. We have to put it behind us and get ready for Pittsburgh."

The Stars are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games overall and are one point out of third place in the Central Division.

Defenseman Julius Honka left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return. He will be evaluated on Friday.

Stars coach Ken Hitchcock indicated that Thursday's three healthy scratches - Jason Dickinson, Gemel Smith, and Dillon Heatherington - would all play Friday.

Hitchcock said Kari Lehtonen would start in goal.

Friday's game is the first of a three-game homestand.

Injuries: D Julius Honka (upper body) is questionable. D Marc Methot is on injured reserve.

Video: Oleksiak ready for return to AAC

 

About the Penguins

The Penguins (30-22-3) won for the fifth time in the last six games, defeating Vegas, 5-4, in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. After falling behind 2-0, the Penguins scored five unanswered goals to build a 5-2 lead and then held off a late push by the Golden Knights and spoiled Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's return to Pittsburgh.

"It was what I think everybody expected it to be," Penguins goaltender Matt Murray said. "It was an emotional, pretty free-flowing game. They're a really good team. They're tough to play against. We had to give it our best to get the two points."

The Penguins are 10-3-0 in their last 13 games and are in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Forwards Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body) and Carter Rowney (lower body) were injured in Tuesday's game, and neither practiced Thursday. Kuhnhackl is week to week and Rowney is day to day.

Forward Conor Sheary practiced Thursday and traveled with the Penguins on their road trip. Sheary is day to day.

Pittsburgh recalled forward Teddy Blueger from the AHL Thursday.

Friday will mark the first game against Dallas for defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who was traded from the Stars to the Penguins in December.

"I've thought about it a little bit," Oleksiak told Pittsburgh media Thursday. "It's a game coming up that has a little bit of a weird atmosphere around it. But I think the closer it gets, the more it feels like you are in the same routine. Obviously, it's a huge game for us, but I don't think it is bigger than any other game we've played."

Friday's game is the first of a two-game road trip for the Penguins, who have their fathers on the trip.

Injuries: F Conor Sheary (lower body) and F Carter Rowney (lower body) are day to day. F Patrick Hornqvist (lower body) and F Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body) are injured reserve.

 

Season Series
  • This is the first of two meetings between the Stars and Penguins this season.

  • The Stars were 1-1-0 vs. Pittsburgh last season.

  • The Stars have won five of their last six games against the Penguins.

 

Statistical Tidbits
  • The Stars are 19-8-1 at home.

  • The Penguins are 10-15-2 on the road.

  • The Stars are 13-5-4 vs. the Eastern Conference, including 6-3-3 against the Metropolitan Division.

  • The Penguins are 10-12-3 vs. the Western Conference, including 3-6-2 against the Central Division.

  • The Stars are allowing 1.82 goals per game since Dec. 29, a stretch of 17 games.

  • The Penguins are averaging 4.07 goals per game over their last 13 games.

  • The Stars have outscored their opponents 110-89 during 5-on-5 play.

  • Opponents have outscored the Penguins 121-91 during 5-on-5 play.

  • The Penguins have the league's top-ranked power play at 26.8 percent.

  • The Stars rank 11th in the league on the penalty kill at 82.0 percent.

  • Stars forward Tyler Seguin has scored goals in four straight games.

  • Stars forward Alexander Radulov has 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) in his last 17 games.

  • Pittsburgh forward Carl Hagelin has 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in his last 12 games.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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