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Riding five-game win streak, Stars hope to stay hot on road

Dallas plays its next five games away from home starting with Thursday's tilt at Nashville

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Stars, who are riding a five-game winning streak, just concluded a stretch where they played seven of eight games at American Airlines Center, and now they'll play nine of the next 12 on the road. This span starts with five straight on the road with games against the Predators, Arizona, Florida, Tampa Bay, and Carolina.

The Stars have had their ups and downs on the road, where they are 10-13-2, but they have won four of their last six away from home.

 

[SEEKING RESULTS: Veterans Jason Spezza and Andrew Cogliano hope fast chemistry leads to more goals]

 

"We have more road games than we have home games, so we have to be a better team on the road," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "I think we've been a better team on the road for quite a bit of time now. Looking at the five games, we are just going one game at a time. Nashville is the biggest one because it is within our division. Some teams got points yesterday, so we've got to keep winning."

The home-heavy stretch the Stars just wrapped up was part of a bigger one that dated back to Dec. 18 and saw the Stars play 14 of 20 games at home. Over that portion of the schedule, the Stars went 12-7-1 (8-5-1 at home, 4-2-0 on the road) and went from 11th place in the Western Conference and four points out of a playoff spot to third place in the Central division and seven points ahead of the ninth spot in the West.

Video: Relive the Stars' biggest wins, moments from January

It was looking like it might be a pretty pedestrian stretch of games until the Stars put together their current run of wins, which has put them in a good spot in the standings and boosted their confidence as they head out on the road.

"Once you have success playing a certain way, you start gaining confidence in it, and then it starts becoming your blueprint for how to play," Stars forward Jason Spezza said. "Success breeds success, and when you start winning, you start feeling how it feels to win. I think we're starting to get that a little bit."

Thursday's game in Nashville will be the second against the Predators at Bridgestone Arena in six days, and the two teams will meet again later this month. The Stars, who won 3-1 in Nashville Saturday, have picked up five of a possible six points against Nashville this season (2-0-1), winning twice already on the road behind Anton Khudobin, who has stopped 87 of 88 shots in the two victories.

Saturday's game got a little chippy, and with the possibility these two teams could meet in the playoffs this spring and a Winter Classic matchup coming next season in Dallas, it could be ramped up again Thursday.

"I expect it to be a hornet's nest the first 10 minutes and we are going to have to weather some storms," said Montgomery. "But we want to have the mentality we had the last game where we went after it."

 

Moms joining Stars on trip

The Stars will have some guests with them as they travel to Nashville and Arizona to kick off this stretch of five straight games on the road. The mothers of 16 players and five other members of the organization will come along to experience life on the road with an NHL team.

"For sure, it's fun," said forward Mattias Janmark, whose mom, Margareta, will be on the trip. "I've had my dad here twice and now for my mom to come, that will be fun. It will be an experience that she will never forget, I hope. It's always good to give back to the parents. I hope we can have a good time."

This is the first time the Stars have brought the moms along for a road trip after taking the dads in the past.

"I know the dads aren't too thrilled about missing this year. I know my dad's not happy," said center Tyler Seguin. "But it's great. I am sure for most moms in here, if it is not the same as what the dads did, it is pretty close. My mom drove me to the rink every morning, made me food and my dad worked a lot.

"As much as this is my dream, this is her dream too for me to play in the NHL. She gets to experience the lifestyle a little bit here, so it will be good." 

And the biggest difference between having moms on the trip instead of dads?

"I think the mornings after will be more of a wine smell than a beer smell. That will be the biggest difference," Seguin said. "We might not see as many moms as dads around the locker room. Other than that, it will be fun. Our plane is going to be a little noisy. I am looking forward to it."

 

Odds and ends
  • Khudobin will get the start in goal Thursday at Nashville.

  • Ben Bishop did not practice Wednesday. Montgomery said Bishop tweaked a few things in Monday's game against Arizona, so the Stars gave him the day off. Montgomery said Bishop would back up Khudobin Thursday in Nashville.

  • With Bishop not practicing, former pro goalie Kenny Carroll was the second goaltender Wednesday along with Khudobin. Carroll, who played most of his career in the CHL, manages the Children's Health StarCenter in Richardson.

 

Practice lineup

Lines and defense pairs in Wednesday's practice were the same as those used in Monday's win over Arizona. Here's how the Stars lined up Wednesday.

Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano - Jason Dickinson - Jason Spezza
Denis Gurianov - Roope Hintz - Brett Ritchie
Valeri Nichushkin

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun
Julius Honka - Connor Carrick

Anton Khudobin

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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