Dallas Stars (17-11-1, 35 pts) @ New York Islanders (9-13-6, 24 pts)
6:00 PM CT, December 15, 2011
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
Matt Moulson, Matt Moulson, Matt Moulson, Matt Moulson. That's the name that showed up four times on the scoresheet in the last game between the Dallas Stars and the New York Islanders. The Andrew Raycroft show was put to screeching halt as he gave up rebound after rebound in the team's 5-4 loss to the Isles. In retrospect, all Stars fans might want to send a thank-you note over to Moulson as it was largely his doing that Raycroft was pulled in the third in favor of Richard Bachman.
It will be Bachman's task tonight to put a stop to the Moulson train. Bachman has been incredible in the two games that he has started, stopping 59 of 60 shots and earning the Stars first shutout of the year in their 1-0 win over the New York Rangers. After what he's done in his last two games, tonight should be no problem at all right?
The Isles have lost three of four games since beating the Stars. They've gone back to their usual ways of bad defense as they've allowed 14 goals in their last three games. Moulson is still hot, as he's scored two goals and assisted on two others since his four goal outburst against Dallas. I imagine that Gulutzan and crew are making it known tonight that they should cover him.
Bachman gets the start tonight. Adam Burish (broken hand) and Kari Lehtonen (groin) are still injured and out for this game. Burish seems close to returning however and could be back by the time the Stars return from their road trip, which ends tomorrow night against the New Jersey Devils.
Mark Fistric is officially done with his suspension and is eligible to return tonight. With the way that Philip Larsen has been playing lately, it will be tough to put Fistric back in the lineup.
For the New York Islanders, it looks like Kevin Poulin will be making his first start of the season tonight. He was recalled from the AHL today and will be immediately thrust into the spotlight. The last game that he played in for the Isles was way back in February.
The Isles will be without three defensemen: Steve Staois (concussion), Mark Eaton (knee) and Andrew MacDonald (leg). They will also be without goaltender Rick DiPietro (groin) and two forwards: Jay Pandolfo (foot) and Nino Niederreiter (concussion).
- The Isles have allowed a power-play goal in their last three games and at least one power-play goal in seven of their last eight home games.
- With the return of most of their players, the Stars power-play has gotten better (worlds better considering what they've been like before). Dallas has a power-play goal in three of their last five games.
- In one of those take it or leave it stats, the Stars are by far the team with the most hits in the league. They've been credited with 838 hits this season, 54 more than the second place LA Kings.
- If Dallas is able to get a lead after the first and second periods, it's a strong possibility that they'll win. Dallas is 8-2-0 when leading after one period and 8-0-0 when leading after the second.