Last season, the Dallas Stars had their fair share of success against foes from the Eastern Conference, going 11-5-2 against their counterparts from the East. One of those wins, back on Oct. 8, 2010, a 4-3 overtime victory, came against their next opponent, New Jersey. That triumph over the Devils came in the Garden State.
And on Saturday night, the Stars will host the Devils at the American Airlines Center and not only is Dallas looking to start off on the right foot against Eastern foes, but they’re also looking for a repeat of the last time New Jersey played in Big D. That was back on Nov. 21, 2009 when Dallas was a truly inhospitable host, handing the Devils a 5-3 defeat in a game where veteran Stars blue liner Stephane Robidas
found the back of the net twice.
“It’s a big game for us. If you look at this whole stretch, if you can get a good result on Saturday, it’s a real positive stretch,” - Glen Gulutzan
New Jersey (4-3-1, 9 points) is currently third in the Atlantic Division, just two points behind second-place Philadelphia. The Devils lost 5-3 at Phoenix on Thursday night and are currently 1-2-0 on their four-game road swing.
The Stars (7-3-0, 14 points) head into this one fresh off a 5-3 loss to the Kings on Thursday night at the AAC, their first home defeat of the season. This was the same Los Angeles team that New Jersey blanked 3-0 at the Staples Center on Tuesday night.
“It’s a big game for us. If you look at this whole stretch, if you can get a good result on Saturday, it’s a real positive stretch,” Dallas head coach Glen Gulutzan said.
Even though this will be Gulutzan’s first game against an Eastern foe, he and his staff have watched plenty of video on the Devils and know exactly what to expect from them on Saturday night.
“We think they’re real good, a disciplined team and they’ve got some skill,” he said. “We think the games they played against Phoenix and LA, they played very well. So we’re going to have to be on the top of our game again.”
Since the Stars haven’t hosted the Devils in nearly two years, it’s a foe that many players look forward to playing once again on their own surface.
“Yeah, it will be interesting. We don’t play them too often,” Dallas defenseman Nicklas Grossman said. “They have a lot of skill for sure. This is a huge game for us. I thought we played all right [against LA]. We didn’t get the outcome we wanted. We need to establish our game. We need to keep playing good at home. We’ve just got to push through and put a good 60 minutes together.”
New Jersey is a team that fellow Stars blue liner Alex Goligoski
knows pretty well since he spent the first three and a half seasons of his NHL career playing in the East with the Penguins. So the Dallas defenseman knows exactly what to expect from their next foe.
“Very good defensive team, they play very structured. Obviously, [Ilya] Kovalchuk and [Zach] Parise are going to provide a lot of their offense. Other than those two guys, they’re very structured defensively,” Goligoski said. “They try to limit anything in tight. They just try to keep you outside all night. So we’re going to have to get to the net on them.”
And since he spent much of his early career playing in the East, who better to comment on why the Stars have seemed to have solid success against clubs from the other conference than the Minnesota native?
“It’s probably more of a coincidence than anything but from experience, it’s weird playing teams you don’t see and players you don’t know. It’s just kind of a weird feeling out there,” Goligoski admitted. “You don’t really know player tendencies or anything. It can obviously go both ways but it’s definitely a little different.”
After Saturday’s game, the Stars will have six days off before returning to the ice next Friday against Colorado at the AAC.