The Dallas Stars will look to extend their winning streak to five games when they open a five-game road trip in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche tonight.
This is the first extended road trip of the season for the Stars, who are 1-2-0 away from home.
"The last road game (5-4 win at Arizona), we showed some really good signs of how to play properly, and we want to build on that," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's going to be hard, especially here in the altitude. It is always really hard. I want to see us continue down the path of being a good team, especially in critical spots and critical places on the ice."
The Stars (5-3-0) are on a good run with the four straight wins and five wins in their past six games. It's early in the season, but the feeling is players are getting a handle on what Hitchcock expects from them.
Video: Spezza looking to start scoring
"It's good. We've had our ups and downs already, but that is something we counted on with the new system and a lot of new stuff we need to learn," said Stars defenseman John Klingberg. "We feel like we know what we are doing out there now. It feels like we don't hesitate that much. The system is great. It helps defenders and gives us a lot of offensive time as well."
As for tonight's lineup, Ben Bishop is expected to make his seventh straight start tonight in goal. Bishop is 5-1-0 with a 2.09 goals against average and a .928 save percentage.
The Stars held an optional skate this morning, so no line rushes or defense pairs. The guess is that Hitchcock will go the same lines he used towards the end of Saturday's game and in Monday's practice. Among the tweaks: Martin Hanzal centering Remi Elie and Jason Spezza and Mattias Janmark at center with Devin Shore and Brett Ritchie on his wings. The defense pairs should be the same as the last game.
Jamie Oleksiak, Greg Pateryn, and Gemel Smith are the expected healthy scratches for Dallas tonight.
The Avalanche (4-4-0) come into tonight's game on a three-game losing streak, and they have some injury issues. Defenseman Patrik Nemeth (lower body) and forwards J.T. Compher (thumb), Tyson Jost (lower body) and Colin Wilson (undisclosed) all are out. Colorado has recalled forwards A.J. Greer and Gabriel Bourque and defenseman Andrei Mironov from the AHL. Semyon Varlamov will get the start in goal. He is 3-2-0 with a 2.21 goals against average and .931 save percentage.
Who: Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche
Where: Pepsi Center
When: 8 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars Projected Lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Remi Elie - Martin Hanzal - Jason Spezza
Devin Shore - Mattias Janmark - Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Marc Methot - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Esa Lindell - Julius Honka
Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Greg Pateryn, Gemel Smith
Avalanche Projected Lineup
Sven Andrighetto - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - Nail Yakupov
Matt Nieto - Alexander Kerfoot - A.J. Greer
Gabriel Bourque - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Anton Lindholm - Tyson Barrie
Mark Barberio - Chris Bigras
Scratched: Andrei Mironov
Injured: Patrik Nemeth (lower body), Colin Wilson (undisclosed), J.T. Compher (thumb), Tyson Jost (lower body)
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.