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Stars Head to Western Canada for Key Road Trip

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

After winning two of three games on their recent homestand, the Dallas Stars hit the road for three games in Western Canada. It’s a big trip for the Stars, who are trying to climb their way back into the Western Conference playoff picture.

“Where we are, it’s real important. You can’t emphasize just how important the next game is,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “For us to get on a little roll, you count two games as a small roll, but it is a step in the right direction, and we need it.”

The Stars are coming off a solid 4-3 win over New Jersey Saturday that gave them a 5-1-1 mark in their last seven home games. The road has been a much different story. They’ve lost four straight away from home and have been outscored 21-9. This trip is a chance to right the ship when it comes to road play.

The Stars play at Vancouver (Wednesday), Calgary (Friday) and Edmonton (Sunday). The Canucks and Flames are two of the teams the Stars are chasing in the playoff race. Both have struggled recently after strong starts to the season.

“These are six points you really want to get coming up to Christmas break,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We want to improve our road record, keep moving forward and build off [Saturday’s win over New Jersey].”

“We need two points in Vancouver and move on from there,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “We are behind the eight ball and need to get back into this thing.”

That thing is the playoff race. The Stars (11-13-5) are nine points out of the final wild card spot and they could be out by more by the time they hit the ice Wednesday night in Vancouver. They can’t make up a in a week or a couple weeks. But to get back in the picture, they’ll need to put together a good run or two.

“You can’t look at how much we have to make up and think, ‘Oh, wow.’ You can’t think like that. You have to go in ten-game segments or 15-game segments,” said Stars forward Shawn Horcoff. “We can say we have to make up four points every 15 games, and we’ll be in. For us right now it’s not even about that. It’s about getting back to how we have to play. We know it can’t be one game here or two games there. We have to throw together four or five game winning streaks and more than one of them here the rest of the way. In order to do that, you’ve got to play sound defensively, and we’re working on that.”

“We’re capable,” said Ruff. “It starts with a game and you have to go after the second one. You know you have tough stretches, every team has them. The answer to that is having a real good stretch.”

And the Stars are hoping they can get one going this week in Western Canada.

Practice notes: Goligoski practices, Moen available

*Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, who did not practice Monday, was on the ice for Tuesday’s session and is ready to play Wednesday in Vancouver.

“He’s back, he’s ready. He’s feeling a little bit better,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We’ll stay with the program until at least Christmas where he won’t practice but will play.”

*Stars forward Travis Moen, who missed Saturday’s game with an upper body injury, has been cleared to play.

Tuesday’s practice lineup

Here’s how the Stars lined up in Tuesday’s practice.

Jamie BennJason SpezzaTyler Seguin
Antoine RousselCody EakinAles Hemsky
Curtis McKenzieTravis MorinErik Cole
Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour
Travis MoenRyan Garbutt

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg/Jamie Oleksiak
Jyrki JokipakkaTrevor Daley
Jordie BennJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

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 DallasStars.com 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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