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Preview: Stars face major test in league-best Tampa Bay

Bishop to start in goal against his former team as Dallas continues its homestand

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge
Tampa Bay Lightning at Dallas Stars

Thursday, March 1
7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

 

About the Stars

The Stars (36-23-4) are coming off a 2-0 win over Calgary on Tuesday at American Airlines Center. Ben Bishop stopped 38 shots for his fifth shutout of the season to help secure a win for the Stars who gave up several quality scoring chances.

"Ben was great and did an outstanding job. He held us together and its two points, and we've got to move ahead quickly," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "We've got 24 hours to get ready for one of the best teams, if not the best team in the National Hockey League coming in here and we can't play like this. The players know that. Everybody's given Ben a big hug today and its two points, and we move on in the standings."

Devin Shore and Tyler Seguin scored for goals for the Stars who held onto the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with the win.

Wednesday's game will be a big test for the Stars. Tampa Bay has the best record in the league and plays well at both ends of the ice.

"They can skate and they can create chances off the rush. We are going to have our hands full," said Stars assistant coach Curt Fraser. "Tampa has it all. They have a strong backend, strong front and good in goal. We are going to have our hands full."  

Bishop is expected to start in goal Thursday.

Thursday is the third of a five-game homestand for the Stars.

Injuries: C Martin Hanzal (lower body) is out.

Video: Faksa discusses Thursday's matchup with Lightning

 

About the Lightning

The league-leading Lightning (43-17-4) lost 2-1 to Buffalo, which has the second-worst record in the league, in Tampa on Tuesday night. The Lightning grabbed a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a goal by Cory Conacher, but the Sabres tied it on an Evan Rodrigues goal in the third and then won it on Jason Pominville's power-play goal 1:26 into the extra period. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Tampa Bay.

"I hate to say it, but maybe it's because they are near the bottom (of the standings)," said Conacher. "I don't know what it is. We should have expected it; they've been playing well lately. Maybe that was the case of that. In the end, we didn't do the right things to win the game."

Wednesday snapped a stretch in which the Lightning had scored three goals or more in ten straight games.

With the point picked up in Wednesday's game, Tampa Bay became the first team to hit 90 points this season.

The Lightning play in Dallas Thursday and then return to Tampa for an eight-game homestand.

Injuries: F Nikita Kucherov (upper body) is day to day. F Ondrej Palat (lower body), D Ryan McDonagh (upper body), and G Peter Budaj (lower body) are out.

 

Season Series
  • This is the second and final meeting of the season between the Stars and Lightning.

  • The Lightning won the first meeting, 6-1, in Tampa on Nov. 16.

 

Statistical Tidbits
  • The Stars are 22-10-1 at home.

  • The Lightning are 22-11-2 on the road.

  • The Stars are 14-5-4 vs. the Eastern Conference, including 7-2-1 against the Atlantic Division.

  • The Lightning are 19-7-0 vs. the Western Conference, including 10-2-0 against the Central Division.

  • The Lightning lead the NHL in goal scoring at 3.50 per game.

  • The Stars rank fourth in goals against at 2.57 per game.

  • The Stars rank 15th in goal scoring at 2.89 per game.

  • The Lightning rank fifth in goals against at 2.66 per game.

  • The Lightning rank third on the power play at 24.2 percent.

  • The Stars rank eighth on the penalty kill at 82.5 percent.

  • The Stars rank 21st on the power play at 19.1 percent.

  • The Lightning rank 24th on the penalty kill at 77.7 percent.

  • Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov is tied for fourth in the NHL in goal scoring with 33.

  • Tyler Seguin ranks sixth in the NHL in goal scoring with 32. 

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 him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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