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Stars-Penguins Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Pittsburgh Penguins at Dallas Stars

Saturday, January 25
7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (23-20-8) are coming off a 7-1 win over Toronto at American Airlines Center on Thursday. The Stars scored five-on-five, on the power play, shorthanded and with the teams playing four-on-four in the game. It was the second straight win for the Stars.

“We’ve found our confidence back again,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We know how we have to play to win hockey games. I think we’ve seen that the last two games.”

The consecutive wins come on the heels of a 1-8-1 start to the month of January. The Stars have outscored their opponents 11-1 over the last two games.

“We want to live in the present. Today was a good day. The last game was a good day. We’ll move on and get ready for a really good team coming in here,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We talked a lot during the tough stretch that what’s behind us we can’t really deal with. We’ve got to win the next game. Now, we’ve won a couple and we’re looking to run some together. Pittsburgh is a different beast.”

Center Cody Eakin, who left Thursday’s game with an upper body injury, did not practice Friday but is expected to play Saturday. Shawn Horcoff and Rich Peverley had maintenance days Friday and did not practice.

Injuries: C Cody Eakin (upper body) is probable. D Stephane Robidas (leg) is out.

About the Penguins

The Penguins (36-13-2) are coming off a 6-4 win at the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Penguins overcame an early 2-0 deficit in the game. Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz both had one goal and two assists in the game.

“It’s hard not to have it be one of those types of games,” said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. “They do a good job of stretching it out, making long plays and having people behind us and that happened. But it had that drama. We got down by two and had to crawl back into it with two great plays by the Crosby line and Kunitz. It just seemed to be a lot of up and down flow in the game.”

Former Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen had two assists and a plus-three rating in the game. Niskanen leads the NHL with a plus-29 rating this season, and ranks 12th among NHL defensemen in scoring with 30 points (7 goals, 23 assists) in 51 games.

Injuries: LW Pascal Dupuis (ACL), RW Beau Bennett (wrist), G Tomas Vokoun (hip), RW Chris Conner (hand), C Joe Vitale (wrist) and C Brian Gibbons (lower body) are out.

Series Notes

*This is the first of two meetings between the Stars and Penguins.

*The two teams did not play last season.

*The Stars and Penguins last played Feb. 29, 2012 in Dallas with Pittsburgh winning 4-3 in a shootout.

*The Stars are 1-5-2 in their last eight games against Pittsburgh dating back to 2003-04.

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars have scored on the power play in six straight games and are 7-21 (33.3 percent) during that stretch.

*Pittsburgh is 11-11 on the penalty kill over the last four games and has the top ranked penalty kill in the league at 88.2 percent.

*The Penguins have the top ranked power play in the league at 25.0 percent.

*The Stars are 11-11 on the penalty kill over the last four games.

*Pittsburgh has scored four goals or more in 10 of its last 15 games.

*The Penguins rank fourth in the NHL in scoring at 3.22 per game.

*The Stars rank ninth in scoring at 2.84 per game.

*The Penguins are 10-2-1 vs. the Western Conference.

*The Stars are 7-10-1 vs. the Eastern Conference.

*Stars captain Jamie Benn has eight points (three goals, five assists) over the last six games.

*Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen is on a six-game points streak (two goals, seven assists).

*Tyler Seguin leads Dallas in goals (21) and points (47).

*Sidney Crosby leads Pittsburgh in goals (27) and points (72).

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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