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Stars face stiff test against rising Canucks

Dallas is 8-0-2 in its past 10 trips to Rogers Arena and 14-2-3 in its past 19 games against the Canucks overall

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
Stars (9-8-2) at Canucks (10-6-3)

9 p.m., Rogers Arena

TV: FOX Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM

 

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Stars typically play well in the hometown of owner Tom Gaglardi.

Dallas is 8-0-2 in its past 10 trips to Rogers Arena, and is 14-2-3 in its past 19 games against the Canucks overall.

That said, they are on the second half of a back-to-back after winning 3-1 in Calgary on Wednesday, and that should present a different sort of challenge. Vancouver is playing well at 10-6-3, but its underlying numbers are even better. The Canucks rank second in goal differential in the Western Conference at plus-13 and have the most prolific power play in the league.

Video: DAL@CGY: Montgomery breaks down Stars win over Flames

Vancouver is first in power-play opportunities at 76, first in power-play goals at 19 and fifth in power-play success rate at 25.0 percent. The Canucks also are fifth in goals against at 2.58 per game and eighth in save percentage at .916, so they have a lot of bases covered.

The Canucks have the fourth-youngest team in the league with an average age of 26.3, and is led by a group of young players. Elias Pettersson, 21, has 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists), Brock Boeser, 22, has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists), and defenseman Quinn Hughes, 20, has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists).

 

What to watch

The Stars played a complete game in Calgary with balanced forward lines, so the guess is they will try to duplicate that against the Canucks.

Justin Dowling centered a line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and the trio put nine shots on goal. Dowling also scored the first goal of his 34 game NHL career.

Video: DAL@CGY: Dowling on scoring first NHL goal

Seguin and Benn have played well against the Canucks in their respective careers. Benn, who is a native of the area, has 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 30 games and is plus-9 in that span. Seguin has 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 20 games and is plus-12.

Both have struggled this season, as Seguin has one goal in the past 14 games and Benn is in a career-long 14-game goal drought.

 

Khudobin to get start in net

Anton Khudobin will be in goal. He is 3-0-2 in his career against the Canucks with a 1.95 goals against average and .929 save percentage.

Mattias Janmark and Andrew Cogliano are both out with lower body injuries. Nick Caamano was called up last game and played against Calgary in place of Janmark. Rhett Gardner was called up Thursday and is expected to play against the Canucks in place of Cogliano.

Defenseman Roman Polak has been out since the beginning of the season with a sternum injury, but could return to play tonight.

 

By the numbers
1

That's the number of goals allowed by the Stars in seven of the past nine games -- all victories. Dallas has moved up to second in the NHL in goals against average at 2.37.

 

6

That's the amount of times Stars captain Jamie Benn has faced off against brother Jordie Benn. The two worked out in Frisco for much of the summer after Jordie signed as a free agent with the Canucks. Jordie Benn is averaging 16:57 in time on ice and has two assists in 19 games.

 

.916

That's the combined save percentage for Canucks goalies Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko, ranking eighth in the NHL.

 

He said it

"It's been a good little stretch, but we're not out of the woods my any means. We're one game [above .500]. This team's got higher standards than that. We've put in some good work to get to this position, give ourselves an opportunity to keep climbing a little bit."

-- Stars forward Joe Pavelski on the fact the team climbed above .500 for the first time with a win in Calgary Wednesday.

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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