The Dallas Stars have put together three-game winning streaks five times this season, but they have yet to win four in a row. They’ll try to make it four straight wins tonight when they play the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh.
The win would be a big one for the Stars, who could move two points ahead of Phoenix and still have one game in hand in the battle for the final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Tonight’s game will be the first of five games over the next seven days for the Stars, some tough scheduling due in part to the Olympic year and having to finish the Columbus game that was postponed last month.
“It’s a lot about trying to get rest and playing the games, focus on the next opponent and put the previous one behind you,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “When you get on a roll you like to stay on a roll. Right now we are rolling four lines and we know with our schedule being real compacted, probably more than any team in the league, it’s going to be important that we try to utilize everybody.”
The Hurricanes are out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, sitting six points out of the final wild card spot with just six games left on their schedule. But they are coming off a 4-1 win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and are 4-2-2 over their last eight games.
“We know that Carolina won a big game last time in Pittsburgh. Sometimes these are the toughest games to play, and knowing that we are going to have to play even better,” said Ruff. “They didn’t give up a lot of opportunities in the last one, so it should be a tight one.”
It appears the Stars will go with the same lineup as last game, including Kari Lehtonen in goal. It will be the seventh straight start for Lehtonen, who is 5-1-0 with a 1.67 goals against average and .950 save percentage in his last six games.
Erik Cole (upper body) and Aaron Rome (lower body) are both skating, but are not expected to play tonight for the Stars. Kevin Connauton is the expected healthy scratch on defense.
Anton Khudobin is the expected starter in goal for the Hurricanes. Forwards Alexander Semin and Drayson Bowman are questionable tonight due to illness and forward Jiri Tlusty (upper body) did not skate Thursday morning, so the Hurricanes recalled Zach Boychuk from Charlotte of the AHL.
Who: Dallas Stars at Carolina Hurricanes
Where: PNC Arena
When: 6:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Ray Whitney – Dustin Jeffrey – Alex Chiasson
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Patrik Nemeth – Sergei Gonchar
Hurricanes projected lineup
Andrei Loktionov- Eric Staal - Chris Terry
Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Elias Lindholm
Zach Boychuk - Manny Malhotra - Radek Dvorak
Justin Faulk - Andrej Sekera
Ron Hainsey - John-Michael Liles
Jay Harrison - Brett Bellemore
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.