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Stars-Lightning Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Thursday, March 17

7:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

The Stars (41-21-9) are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday at American Airlines Center. Los Angeles scored 23 seconds into the game and extended the lead to 4-1 by early in the second period.

“This is a big letdown for us,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I thought we came out flat. We knew that it was going to be a tough game. They came out good, and we came out casual. We made the first big turnover right off the bat and just said ‘here, we’re going to give you guys one heck of a start to the game.’”

The loss snapped a five-game points streak for the Stars.

RW Patrick Sharp (lower body) and D John Klingberg (lower body) both practiced Wednesday. Ruff said there is a chance both could be ready for Thursday’s game. D Jordie Benn (lower body) also practiced Wednesday but is not ready to return.

Thursday’s game is the fourth game of a five-game homestand for the Stars, who are 1-1-1 in the first three games.

Injuries: RW Patrick Sharp (lower body) and D John Klingberg (lower body) are questionable. D Jordie Benn (lower body), C Mattias Janmark (upper body) and D Jason Demers (shoulder) are out.

The Lightning (40-25-5) lost 4-1 at Toronto Tuesday. The Maple Leafs scored midway through the third period to snap a 1-1 tie and then tacked on two empty-net goals to seal the victory.

"How many times are we going to talk about the inconsistency of our game?" Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told "It's frustrating. It shouldn't matter who you are playing; give an effort. The first two periods we had 11 shots on net. That's not going to win you hockey games. We have to be better. You have to generate from both side of the puck, from defense to the offense. We're not doing either.”

Since putting together a nine-game winning streak from Feb. 18 to Mar. 5, the Lightning are 1-3-1 in their past five games.

F Cedric Paquette, who missed Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury, practiced Wednesday but is questionable for Thursday.

This is the third game of a four-game road trip for Tampa Bay.

Injuries: F Cedric Paquette (lower body) is questionable. F Valtteri Filppula (upper body) is out.

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

*The Stars won, 5-3, in Tampa on Oct. 15.

*The Lightning have won three straight games in Dallas.

*The Stars are 18-9-3 vs. the Eastern Conference including 8-5-2 against the Atlantic Division.

*The Lightning are 15-9-2 vs. the Western Conference including 6-5-2 against the Central Division.

*The Stars are 10-7-4 since the All-Star break.

*The Lightning are 13-7-1 since the break.

*The Stars have allowed five goals or more in six of their past 13 games.

*The Lightning have allowed two goals or fewer in nine of their past 13 games.

*The Stars have killed off 21 straight opposition power plays and last allowed a power play goal on Mar. 1.

*The Lightning have failed to score on 20 straight power plays and last scored on the power play Feb. 28.

*The Stars have scored on the power play in five straight games and are 11-36 (30.6) percent on the PP over the past eleven games.

*The Lightning are 36-40 (90.0 percent) on the penalty kill over the past 13 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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