Florida Panthers (8-5-3, 19 pts) @ Dallas Stars (11-5-0, 22 pts)
7:30 PM CT, November 15, 2011
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
The Stars are back home after a four-game road trip and look to get back to their winning ways. Dallas was whipped by Pittsburgh and Detroit in its last two games. In town tonight to face the Stars are the surprising Florida Panthers.
The Panthers are off to a fantastic start this season and had a six game point streak broken in their last game, a 3-2 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. They've won their last three road games by a combined 13-5 score and boast one of the better road records in the NHL (6-3-0).
The Panthers have a simple plan to their game, win through defense and special teams. Florida has one of the best power-play teams (4th) in the league (who isn't these days against the Stars?). Their road PP has scored 10 goals on the year so far (3rd most in the NHL), and score on 24% of their road PP's (6th in the NHL). They allow only 2.4 goals per game which is 9th best in the league.
Florida has gotten great production this year from their three biggest offseason signings: Kris Versteeg, Brian Campbell and Tomas Fleischmann. Versteeg leads the team with 17 points while Fleischmann has 15.
The main guy that Dallas should worry about is Brian Campbell. Campbell has 16 points on the season, 1 goal and 15 assists. He's tied for the league lead among defensemen for points and is tied for second among all skaters in NHl for assists. He is devastating on the power-play, getting 11 points and 10 assists on the man-advantage (both tops in the NHL). In fact, Florida gets a large part of their scoring from defensemen. They lead the league with 48 points from their d-men.
For Dallas to win this game, they need to play much better hockey than what they showed on the last two games of their road trip. They need to find a way to keep control of the puck and limit the amount of shots that Lehtonen has to face and this has been run into the ground, but they absolutely have to stay out of the penalty box. If they have to take four or chances of the PK unit again, this team will likely lose.
It looks like Kari Lehtonen will get the start tonight for Dallas. He's 13-5-4 in his career against the Panthers.
Dallas will be without Alex Goligoski (hand/thumb) and Steve Ott (hip) is a gametime decision. If Ott does play, it's still unknown where if he will return to the his spot with the Benn-Eriksson line or if he'll be somewhere else.
Florida will be missing three wingers tonight, Scottie Upshaw (upper body), Mikael Samuelsson (sports hernia) and Jack Skille (lower body). Jose Theodore looks to be their starting goaltender.