Dallas Stars (34-26-5, 73 pts) @ Calgary Flames (29-25-11, 69 pts)
5:00 PM CT, March 4, 2012
Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
As surprising as it might be, the Stars enter this game as one of the hotter teams in the league. They've gone 6-2-2 in the last 10 games and have won five of the last six games. Dallas has managed to get at least one point in each of those games though so the Stars enter tonight on a six game point streak.
It's been firing on all cylinders for Dallas during this winning streak. The defense and goaltending (mostly goaltending) has held opponents to two or less goals in each of the five wins. The only loss occurred when the Stars were beaten in a shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The offense has been jstu as good as the Stars have scored at least three goals in six straight games. Scoring three against this Flames team and Dallas will be very tough to beat.
The game today presents an opportunity to knock out some of the competition. The Flames sit four points behind the Stars. A win by the Stars would almost certainly give them the tiebreaker so it would be extremely difficult for the Flames to pass them. Dallas also enters this game tied with San Jose and two points behind the Phoenix Coyotes for the division lead. It's crunch time now so Dallas needs to take care of the inferior teams.
The last game between these two teams was won by the Stars 3-2 in overtime. It was one of the more memorable games of the season due to the six shades of sexy goal by Mike Ribeiro.
The key tonight for the Stars will be to just take the game to the Flames. They are a team that is struggling and the Stars need to show that they are the better. Start out strong, work Kiprusoff and crash the net for rebounds. Don't let Calgary get a foothold in this game while it's close.
Kari Lehtonen takes the start tonight.
Dallas will be without Brenden Morrow (back/neck/shoulder) and Jake Dowell (broken finger). Toby Peterson will also miss this game as he returned to Dallas to be with his wife, who just gave birth to their third child.
Notes and thoughts:
- Stars are 16-14-2 on the road this year.
- The Stars PK is 17 of 18 in the last six games.
- Michael Ryder has a goal in three straight and at least a point in five straight games.
more after the jump
The Flames are floundering. Their 1-3-2 record in the past six games has all but taken them out of the playoff race. A loss to the Stars today could be the nail in the coffin and that definitely be what Stars fans are hoping happens today.
The big reason for the precipitous drop in the Flames record has been their porous defense. Even with Miikka Kiprusoff in net, Calgary has allowed at least three goals in each of the five losses. In the game that they won in the past two weeks, Calgary had to rely on its offense to score four goals. That bodes well for a Stars team that has been able to score bunches of goals lately.
Calgary suffered a tough loss in its last game as Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf scored the game winning goal with only 46 seconds left. The loss and subsequent wins by the teams ahead of them in the playoff race puts them four points behind the eighth spot in the West (which is held by the Stars).
One thing to look out for today will be Curtis Glencross. The 29-year-old winger missed the last matchup between these two teams and made his return to the lineup just two weeks ago. Glencross has missed 15 games this season but has only three less goals than team leader Jarome Iginla. He's scored a goal in three straight games so Dallas needs to keep an eye on him.
Kiprusoff should be getting the start today as he got a rest in the last game for the Flames. He suffered the loss in the last matchup between these two teams.
Calgary will be without four players today: Forwards Mikael Backlund (arm), Blair Jones (broken ankle), Lee Stempniak (ankle) and defenseman Chris Butler (thigh laceration).
Notes and thoughts:
- Flames are 16-10-4 at home this season.
- Calgary's rankings coming into this game: 26th in goals per game, 12th in goals against, 14th in power play and 9th in penalty kill.
- Olli Jokinen has a point in three straight games
- The hottest thing on this team might be the power play. Calgary has a power play goal in four of the last five games (4 of 16, 25%).
- On the other hand, Calgary has one of the worst home power play units in the league. They're third worst in the NHL at home with a 13.3% success rate (Colorado has the worst at 12.8%).
- The time to take advantage of this team is in the second period. Calgary has been outscored by 23 in the second. Unfortunately Dallas also struggles in the second period as the Stars have been outscored by 15 in the second frame.