The Dallas Stars jump back onto the ice tonight at the American Airlines Center to play their last game before heading out for a big five-game roadtrip. Coming off the late 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, the Stars now will see another Eastern Conference opponent in Dallas tonight that rarely visits Texas. The New York Islanders will be coming into town to finish their four-game roadtrip off after losing to the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in the skills competition last night. So far the Islanders have played a lot better than their record indicates on the roadtrip, going 2-0-1 in the first three games. While Dallas will come into tonight’s contest as the top team in the Pacific division and 3rd place team currently in the West, the Islanders will enter the game as the last place team in the East.
The Stars will still be without captain Brenden Morrow, Trevor Daley, and Alex Goligoski tonight, but all three are expected to return at some point during the upcoming roadtrip. While the Stars are 3-1-1 in their last five games, it still really shows that they miss having their two best puck-moving defensemen. And while things have been “off” with Morrow so far this season, the team would love to have him back on the ice and if he comes back playing like he did last season it would be a huge boost for the team. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen and forward Adam Burish out as well and nothing new has been reported with either one in the last few days. New York has a few injuries, but nothing near as monumental as some of the Stars key players being out. Andrew MacDonald is day-to-day and questionable for tonight, Mark Eaton is out with a knee injury, Evgeni Nabokov is either injured or still in Russia (who knows these days), and veteran Jay Pandolfo is out with a broken foot.
Tonight’s matchup will be the first of two between the Stars and Islanders this season, and the first time they have met since the Stars won in overtime 5-4 in the opening week of last season in New York. Currently the two teams appear to be headed in opposite directions. The Islanders seem destined for yet another top 5 draft pick, while the Stars are trying to keep in playoff contention despite injuries and have a surprise season despite expectations being low. Things for the Islanders are just bad on every front right now. They are in the bottom ten in the NHL in goals for, 5-on-5 play, shots against, faceoffs, goals against, shots for, and penalty killing. Despite gaining some points this week, the Stars really should have an “easy” opponent tonight. The Islanders are at the end of a roadtrip, after playing last night, and they are by far one of the worst teams in the league. Throw in a carousel of poor goaltenders, tonight featuring overpaid Rick DiPietro, and the Stars really could pick up a home win tonight if they just shoot the puck and create some offense.
The puck drops tonight at 7:30 central time, and I foresee a high scoring affair tonight. Andrew Raycroft has been excellent in his two starts since taking over for Lehtonen, but I don’t see that lasting every night. The Islanders do have some talented, young forwards and will try to jump out early before their legs start feeling the effects of playing last night. Being that things seem to be going the Stars way and the stat of the Islanders, combined with the fact that the last time they beat Dallas was in 2006, and look for a 4-3 or 5-3 win tonight for the Stars. Tune in tonight to TXA 21 or Sports Radio 1310AM The Ticket for all the action.
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Tags: Adam Burish Alex Goligoski Andrew MacDonald Andrew Raycroft Brenden Morrow Chicago Blackhawks Dallas Stars Evgeni Nabokov Kari Lehtonen Mark Eaton New York Islanders Ottawa Senators Rick DiPietro Trevor Daley