Tampa Bay Lightning (18-23-4, 40 pts) @ Dallas Stars (24-19-2, 50 pts)
7:30 PM CT, January 20, 2012
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Struggle, struggle, struggle. That's the name of the game right now for Dallas. Down their top two centers and at the edge of the playoff picture, Dallas has struggled to get points in the past week. Since Jan. 20, Dallas has managed to get only 3 out of 10 points (1-3-1) and find themselves tied with two other teams for the 10th spot in the Western Conference. These close races are mighty stressful no?
Dallas has been playing solid hockey but just haven't had enough offense (or luck) to win in the last week. They've lost each of the last three games by only one goal (the last one a shootout) so this team is definitely trying, but sometimes effort just isn't enough. In all truth, Dallas probably should have beaten the Wings but Alex Goligoski's series of unfortunate events led to an own goal going off his skate.
At first blush, this game looks like something that the Stars should definitely win, but then again this is a team that's gotten beaten up by the Blue Jackets and Ducks recently and the Lightning are a very potent offensive team. Kari Lehtonen needs to play well again tonight against the likes of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. I would say that Dallas needs to keep this score low to win this game, but Tampa has a terrible defense so this could be a shootout.
These two teams played once last year in Tampa, a game that the Lightning won 5-4.
Lehtonen should be getting the start tonight, the first game of another back-to-back.
Dallas will be without their offense in Jamie Benn (appendectomy) and Mike Ribeiro (knee). Philip Larsen was just activated off of IR so he might play in this game, but there's not really a spot in the lineup for him right now unless Dallas goes with 7 defensemen.
more after the jump