DALLAS -- If you want to know how much the NHL changes, just check out the Stars' lineup Tuesday against the Capitals and the one tonight (7 p.m. CT; FS-SW; KTCK) when Washington comes to town.
Jason Dickinson returns from missing three games with an upper-body injury and Joel Hanley will be in for Taylor Fedun on defense for the second consecutive game. Justin Dowling will come out of the lineup and Anton Khudobin will step into net.
[GAME DAY GUIDE: How to watch, live stream Stars vs. Capitals]
"That's the regular season, that's the way it goes," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "You're playing different opponents with different strengths, and how well you adapt to their weaknesses and their strengths is what defines your team as a regular season good team."
Washington also will switch its goalie, going with rookie Ilya Samsonov, who made 25 saves in beating the New York Islanders on Oct. 4. Braden Holtby, who lost in overtime to Dallas on Tuesday, is 2-4-2 in his career against the Stars with a 4.02 goals against average and .867 save percentage.
Video: Montgomery on Dickinson's return, prep for Capitals
The Stars have had a nice run against Washington. Dallas is 13-1-3 in its past 17 games vs. the Capitals and is riding a 17-game point streak (13-0-4) against Washington in games played in Dallas.
Dallas played its best game of the year Thursday and still lost to the Flames in a shootout, 3-2. The Stars has a 36-29 advantage in shots on goal and a 77-50 advantage in shot attempts. If it can play that way on a consistent basis, it will start winning more games. However, Montgomery said the team also has to play smart and not make bad decisions at key junctures in the game.
"Right now, I find habits and details in the first half of the year are the most important thing that dictates teams that manage the game well," Montgomery said.
"We haven't done a good job of managing games, and it's an area where we need to drastically improve."
What to watch
Dickinson was one of the Stars' best players in the playoffs last season and was hoping to become an important part of the top-six forward group this year. However, he suffered an upper-body injury in the first game of the season and has missed the past four games.
He'll return to the lineup tonight and try to work his way back into an important role.
"It's a little bit deflating to go out so early in the first game of the season," Dickinson said. "Obviously, you're all hyped up and ready to go and then you've played five minutes and you're on the shelf. So it's nice that I'm able to get back quickly and not have to linger any longer.
"I'm ready to get going."
Dickinson will start the game on a line with Radek Faksa and Joel L'Esperance, and Montgomery said he likes the potential of that line.
"Dicky is such an excellent skater, checker, possession guy in both ends, so I expect them to generate momentum for us," Montgomery said.
Video: Dickinson 'ready to go' for Stars against Caps
He added that Dickinson is an important part of the team.
"Jason Dickinson is a guy that the coaching staff and teammates trust," Montgomery said. "He's going to do the right things, he's on the right side of pucks, he builds momentum, and he's really developed the offensive side of his game too."
Dickinson, who had six goals and 16 assists for 22 points in 67 games last season, said he feels he learned from watching the games during his injury hiatus.
"I think you get a different view of the game from up top," he said. "It's just the little details, the little things like angles, time to pressure the puck and time not to, just trying to decipher what's good and what's not."
He added that there is a transition to bringing that video game view to the ice where bodies are flying by and sight lines aren't so clear, but that it does make a difference.
"It's not as crystal clear as it was up top, but you still kind of have an idea of how things played out in different situations, and you can kind of make a play from there and use it as a little bit of a tool," he said.
Perry targeted for Stars debut at Pittsburgh
Dowling comes out for the first time this season after a couple of games in which he took bad penalties. Dowling played 10:30, had three shots attempts and was plus-1 against Calgary, but the return of Dickinson forces a change. Nick Caamano, Rhett Gardener and Joel L'Esperance will stay in the lineup ahead of Dowling.
Corey Perry continues to skate in his push to return from a fractured bone in his foot. Montgomery said the Stars are targeting for Perry to make his season debut Friday at Pittsburgh.
Video: Corey Perry on his rehab process
Montgomery said Blake Comeau (lower body) and Roman Polak (sternum) could return in two to four weeks.
The Stars on Friday sent Denis Gurianov to the minors, and he tallied a hat trick in his first game back with the Texas Stars. Gurianov also scored in the shootout, but Texas lost 5-4.
By the numbers
That's the average shots on goal against for Washington, second best in the NHL. Dallas ranks 28th in averages shots on goal per game at 28.4.
Washington has 20 power-play opportunities on the year, tied for most in the NHL. Dallas has been on the penalty kill 21 times, second most in the NHL.
Washington defenseman John Carlson has eight points (one goal, seven assists) and leads all NHL defensemen in scoring. He's averaging 26:05 in ice time, fourth most in the league.
He said it
"I thought they were good, I thought it was by far their best game of the year. They had a lot of zone time and they were making a lot of plays, they could have had five goals. Jamie missed two on the backdoor, he missed them…but they just missed. Then he set up Seggy in the first period and then Rads hit a couple of posts, so it was a pretty good performance. That's not them at their best, so that's the exciting part."
-- Montgomery on the line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, which had 17 shots on goal Thursday in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Jason Dickinson - Radek Faksa - Joel L'Esperance
Andrew Cogliano - Rhett Gardner - Nick Caamano
Esa Lindell - Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Joel Hanley
Scratched: C Justin Dowling, D Taylor Fedun.
Injuries: LW Blake Comeau (lower body), D Roman Polak (sternum), RW Corey Perry (foot), D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), C Martin Hanzal (back).
Capitals projected lineup
Alexander Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway
Jona Siegenthaler - John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov - Nick Jensen
Radko Gudas - Tyler Lewington
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.