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Stars-Coyotes Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Thursday, March 24

9:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

The Stars (44-21-9) clinched a playoff spot with a 6-2 win at Chicago Tuesday. The Stars scored four goals in a 7:09 span of the first period to take a commanding 4-0 lead. The Stars will head to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in the past three years.

“It’s huge,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “It’s a goal at the start of the year for every team to the make the playoffs. It’s a step in the right direction for us.”

The Stars are 4-1-1 in their past six games and 6-1-2 over the past nine. They lead St. Louis by two points in the race for first place in the Central Division and are six points ahead of Chicago. All three teams have eight games remaining.

Defenseman Kris Russell missed Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury. He is questionable for Thursday.

Thursday’s game is the second of a three-game road trip for the Stars.

Injuries: D Kris Russell (lower body) and C Mattias Janmark (upper body) are questionable. C Tyler Seguin (Achilles) and D Jason Demers (shoulder) are out.

The Coyotes (32-34-7) won 4-2 against Edmonton in Glendale on Tuesday. The Coyotes snapped a two-game losing streak and a two-game goal scoring drought. The Coyotes are 19-0-4 in their past 23 games against the Oilers.

“We tend to play well against them. I don't know what it is, but I'm not giving any secrets away,” Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith told “They are a skilled group, and we always talk before the game how if we don't manage the puck and turn it over, we're going to be in a run-and-gun.”

Arizona is 4-2-0 in its past six games and is ten points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with eight games left on its schedule.

Thursday’s game is the second of a four-game homestand for the Coyotes.

Injuries: G Anders Lindback (Achilles) and C Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone) are out.

*This is the second of three meetings between the Stars and Coyotes.

*The Coyotes won the first meeting, 6-3, in Arizona on Feb. 18.

*The Stars are 8-5-3 vs. the Pacific Division.

*The Coyotes are 7-8-1 vs. the Central Division.

*The Stars are 13-7-4 since the All-Star break.

*The Coyotes are 8-14-2 since the break.

*The Stars are 8-2-2 in their past 12 road games.

*The Coyotes are 6-3-0 in their past nine games at home.

*Dallas is 22-23 (95.7 percent) on the penalty kill over the past nine games.

*Arizona has scored on the power play in seven of its past ten games and is 7-31 (22.6 percent) on the PP during that stretch.

*The Stars lead the league in goal scoring (3.24 per game).

*The Coyotes rank 27th in goals against (2.99 per game).

*The Coyotes lead the league in faceoff percentage (54.3).

*The Stars rank ninth in faceoff percentage (50.5).

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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