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Stars-Penguins Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars at Pittsburgh Penguins

Tuesday, March 18
6:00 p.m.
TV: TXA-21
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (32-24-11) lost 7-2 at Winnipeg on Sunday. The Stars had a 2-1 lead in the first period, but the Jets rattled off six unanswered goals the rest of the way to hand the Stars their second straight defeat.

“It was more than just a loss. We got off our game. We had some terrible turnovers and they really took advantage of it,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I thought Winnipeg did a good job. They forced some turnovers and they took advantage of them and I thought they stayed with it longer than we did.”

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen went through a full practice Monday and appears to be ready to return to the lineup after missing the last four games due to a concussion.

Center Vernon Fiddler missed practice Monday, but is expected to play Tuesday.

The Stars assigned goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp to the Texas Stars of the AHL Monday.

Injuries: G Kari Lehtonen (concussion) is probable. C Shawn Horcoff (upper body) and F Rich Peverley (heart) are out.

About the Penguins

The Penguins (44-19-4) were swept by Philadelphia in a weekend home-and-home series, including 4-3 in Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Penguins fell behind 3-0 Sunday, but rallied to make a game of it.

“You have to compete for 60 minutes and we didn't do a very good job of that in the first, but that's the expectation, to go out there and play hard for 60 minutes,” said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby. “I don't see the positive in only playing 40.”

The Penguins could get a little healthier for Tuesday’s game. Forwards James Neal (concussion) and Chris Kunitz (lower body) both practiced Monday, and are questionable to play against the Stars.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang practiced for the first time since suffering a stroke back in January. There is no timetable on his return.

“I was on the ice today because I want to return,” Letang said. “I’ll be able to play again. I don’t know when.”

Injuries: LW James Neal (concussion) and LW Chris Kunitz (lower body) are questionable. D Kris Letang (stroke), D Paul Martin (hand), LW Pascal Dupuis (knee), RW Beau Bennett (wrist), RW Chris Conner (hand) and G Tomas Vokoun (hip) are out.

Series Notes

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

*The Stars won the first meeting, defeating the Penguins 3-0 in Dallas on January 25.

*The Stars have lost five straight in Pittsburgh with their last win coming on December 23, 2000.

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars are 5-3-1 since the Olympic break.

*The Penguins are 4-4-1 since the break.

*The Penguins are 17-2-2 in their last 21 games at home.

*The Stars are 3-6-2 in their last 11 on the road, but 12-9-4 over the last 25 away from home.

*Since the break, the Penguins have allowed four goals or more in five of their nine games.

*The Stars have been outscored 9-2 over the last four periods of regulation hockey.

*Over the last ten games the Penguins have been outshot, on average, 34.7 to 25.3 per game.

*The Stars are giving up 32.4 shots per game over their last five contests, while averaging 28.4 shots for.

*Pittsburgh owns the league’s top power play at 24.3 percent, but is 0-11 over the last three games.

*The Stars have allowed a power play goal in five of their last six games and are 16-21 (76.2 percent) on the penalty kill during that stretch.

*Stars captain Jamie Benn has points in seven straight games (four goals – six assists – 10 points).

*Stars center Tyler Seguin has points in five straight games (five goals – six assists – 11 points).

*Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen has scored a career-high 10 goals this season and leads the NHL with a plus-31 rating.

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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