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Stars-Blackhawks Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks

Sunday January 4, 2015
7:00 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: 570 KLIF-AM

About the Stars

The Stars (18-14-5) won their fourth straight game and eighth in the last nine (8-1-0), routing the Minnesota Wild, 7-1, at American Airlines Center Saturday night. Six different Dallas players scored goals, and 13 players registered points. Fourteen different Dallas players have scored goals during the team’s four-game winning streak.

“That’s a winning recipe. Every line is playing so well,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “One through four, they’re all playing the same way. That’s the one thing, if you’re a coach, if all the lines are doing the right things and they’re all producing; it’s a winning recipe. Tonight was just another indication of that. Every line went out there, generated opportunities, defended well and got rewarded for it.”

The Stars pulled to within four points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Sunday’s game in Chicago will be a big test for the Stars. They’ll be playing on the second night of a back-to-back and facing one of the top teams in the NHL.

“We’ve gone to Chicago once before on a back-to-back, and kind of got punked, so we definitely want to come out flying tomorrow night,” said Stars center Tyler Seguin.

“It will be a challenge,” said Ruff. “I like that we were able to spread the ice time around tonight. We didn’t have to really overplay anybody. It’s a team that, if we want to keep moving up, we need to beat.”

Ruff said will consider giving Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 21 of 22 shots Saturday, the start in Chicago on Sunday.

"That's a discussion,” Ruff. “It was a low-action night for him. I think on home ice, it might be the lowest chances he faced, which gives me a chance to go back to him. But I'll have a conversation with him, and it's something to be considered."

The Stars claimed D David Schlemko off waivers from Arizona Saturday. The Stars assigned D Jyrki Jokipakka to Texas (AHL) and placed F Shawn Horcoff (illness) on injured reserve retroactive to December 29.

Injuries: Shawn Horcoff (illness), RW Patrick Eaves (ankle), RW Valeri Nichushkin (hip) and D Patrik Nemeth (arm) are out.

About the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks (25-11-2) last played Thursday, falling 3-2 to the Washington Capitals in the Winter Classic at Nationals Park. Washington’s Troy Brouwer scored on the power play with 12.9 seconds left to snap a 2-2 tie.

“It's tough to swallow. So close to getting a point,” said Blackhawks forward Ben Smith. “The goal is to get a point, and you never know what happens from there in overtime or a shootout. Regardless of what happens, we don't want to give up that goal in the last minute.”

Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg suffered a hand injury in Thursday’s game and is expected to miss about a month. Chicago recalled F Teuvo Teravainen from Rockford (AHL).

Injuries: LW Kris Versteeg (hand) and D Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee) are out.

Series Notes

*This is the third of five meetings between the Stars and Blackhawks this season.

*The Stars are 0-1-1 (1 point) in the season series.

*The Blackhawks are 2-0-0 (4 points).

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars have won four straight games on the road.

*The Blackhawks are 9-1-0 in their past ten games at home.

*The Stars are 0-4-0 in the second game of back-to-backs.

*The Stars rank fourth in the league in scoring at 3.05 per game.

*Chicago ranks fifth in the league in scoring at 3.00 per game.

*The Blackhawks are tops in the league in goals against at 2.10 per game.

*Dallas is 6-23 (26.1 percent) on the power play over the past six games.

*Chicago ranks first in the NHL in penalty killing at 89.9 percent.

*The Stars have won their last two games against the Central Division and are now 2-7-3 against their divisional foes.

*The Blackhawks are 9-4-0 vs. the Central.

*Tyler Seguin leads the Stars in goals (26) and points (46).

*Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks in goals (18) and points (41).

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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