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Stars-Lightning Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars at Tampa Bay Lightning

Saturday, April 5
6:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus (Channel guide)
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (37-28-11) had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 4-1 loss at Carolina on Thursday. After a scoreless first period, Carolina scored three goals, including two on the power play, in four-and-a-half minute span of the second period to take control of the game.

“I felt we didn’t react the right way when we got scored on,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “You get scored on, you want to go back and try to push the pace a little bit and get it back. I felt that we sat back too much.”

The Stars enter Saturday’s game one point behind Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they have two games in hand on the Coyotes. Phoenix lost 3-2 in a shootout to Edmonton Friday night.

Saturday’s game kicks off a stretch that will see the Stars play four games in five days: at Tampa Bay (Saturday); at Florida (Sunday); vs. Nashville (Tuesday); vs. Columbus (Wednesday).

Stars forward Ray Whitney, who left Thursday’s game with a lower body injury, did not practice Friday. He is not expected to play Saturday.

The Stars called up forward Chris Mueller from the Texas Stars of the AHL Friday afternoon.

Injuries: F Erik Cole (upper body) is questionable. D Aaron Rome (lower body) is day to day. F Ray Whitney (lower body) and F Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat) are out.

About the Lightning

The Lightning (42-26-9) are coming off a 4-1 loss to Calgary on Thursday. The Flames scored two goals in a 15-second span midway through the first period to take a 2-0 lead in the game.

"Players in the room have to take some accountability for themselves for showing up ready to play," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "Preparation, work ethic, they have to bring that. Mentally I didn't think we were all there in the first period. That was unfortunate. … It was a 7:30 start to the game, not an 8:15 start. We started at 8:15.”

It was the second loss in the last three games for the Lightning following a 7-0-2 run. Tampa Bay has clinched a playoff spot, but is still battling Montreal for second in the Atlantic Division and home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

“Our goal was to make the playoffs, now it's time to see if we can get home ice,” Cooper said. “If we land in a Game 7, do you want that on the road or at home? I want it to be right here.”

Saturday’s game is the third of a six-game homestand for Tampa Bay, which is 1-1-0 in the first two games.

Tampa Bay recalled D Defenseman Andrej Sustr from Syracuse of the AHL Friday.

Injuries: D Michael Kostka (concussion) and D Mattias Ohlund (knee) are out.

Series Notes

*This is the second and final meeting of the season between the Stars and Lightning.

*The Lightning won the first meeting, defeating the Stars, 4-2, in Dallas on March 1.

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars are 10-7-1 since the Olympic break.

*Tampa Bay is 9-6-4 since the break.

*The Lightning are 5-1-3 in their last nine games at home and 8-2-4 in their last 14 games overall.

*The Stars have won five of their last seven games overall (5-2-0).

*Tampa Bay is 12-47 (25.5 percent) on the power play over the last ten games.

*The Stars have allowed a power play goal in 10 of the last 15 games and are 39-51 (76.5 percent) on the penalty kill during that stretch.

*Saturday’s game features four of the top 10 rookie scorers in the NHL: Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat ranks second with 54 points (20 goals, 34 assists). Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson ranks third with 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists). Dallas’ Alex Chiasson is tied for sixth with 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists). Dallas’ Valeri Nichushkin ranks ninth with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists).

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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