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Stars-Blackhawks Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Tuesday, March 22

7:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

The Stars (43-21-9) wrapped up a five-game homestand with a 3-0 win over the New York Islanders Saturday. Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 shots for his second shutout of the season for the Stars, who went 3-1-1 on the homestand.

“I think we played a pretty good week and did a lot of good things,” said Stars center Cody Eakin. We have a few games left to tweak what we need to before the real season starts. Last week, we played some good, hard hockey. It’s been a good test for us.”

The Stars, who are 5-1-2 in their past eight games, are in first place in the Central Division. They lead St. Louis by two points and Chicago by four. All three teams have nine games remaining.

“I’ve told the team we’re going to keep working on our game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “The preparation we’re doing now isn’t just to make the playoffs; it’s to try and get in there and win the first round. Then we’ll talk about what we’ll do after that. “

Stars defensemen Alex Goligoski and Kris Russell had maintenance days Monday.

“Hopefully, both will be good to go,” Ruff said.

Defenseman Jordie Benn, who has missed eight games with a lower-body injury, is ready to return. Center Mattias Janmark, who has missed four games with an upper-body injury, is just about ready but may need a couple more practices, according to Ruff.

Tuesday’s game begins a three-game road trip for the Stars.

Injuries: D Jordie Benn (lower body) is probable. C Mattias Janmark (upper body) is questionable. C Tyler Seguin (Achilles) and D Jason Demers (shoulder) are out.

The Blackhawks (42-24-7) lost 3-2 in a shootout to Minnesota Sunday at United Center. The Blackhawks overcame a 2-0 deficit to tie the game in the second period but fell to 1-3-2 over their past six games.

“Hard-fought game,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith told “It's tough not to get that extra point. I still think it's a step in the right direction from the way we played before. We wanted to build off the game in Winnipeg (4-0 win on Friday). I thought we did a lot of good things, but at the same time, there's still a ways that we can go to get where we want to be, and where we need to be.”

Since winning 12 straight games from Dec. 29-Jan. 19, the Blackhawks are 10-11-3 in their past 24 games.

Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford has missed the past two games due to an upper-body injury. He is listed as day to day.

Tuesday’s game concludes a two-game homestand for Chicago.

Injuries: G Corey Crawford (upper body) is day to day. F Marcus Kruger (wrist) is out.

*This is the fifth and final meeting between the Stars and Blackhawks this season.

*The Stars are 3-1-0 (6 points).

*The Blackhawks are 1-3-0 (2 points).

*Dec. 22, at Dallas: Stars 4, Blackhawks 0

*Feb. 6, at Dallas: Blackhawks 5, Stars 1

*Feb. 11, at Chicago: Stars 4, Blackhawks 2

*Mar. 11, at Dallas: Stars 5, Blackhawks 2

*The Stars are 15-7-3 vs. the Central Division.

*The Blackhawks are 12-10-3 vs. the Central.

*The Stars are 5-3-2 vs. Western Conference playoff contenders since the All-Star break.

*The Blackhawks are 0-7-2 in their past nine games against Western Conference playoff contenders.

*The Stars are 14-9-5 vs. Western Conference playoff contenders for the season.

*The Blackhawks are 14-11-5 vs. Western Conference playoff contenders this season.

*The Stars lead the NHL in goal scoring at 3.20 per game.

*The Blackhawks rank sixth in goals against at 2.42 per game.

*Chicago is 0-17 on the power play in the past five games.

*Dallas is 18-19 on the penalty kill in the past eight games.

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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