Feb 26, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; The Dallas Stars celebrate their win over the Vancouver Canucks at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Canucks 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Game Preview: Stars Visit Vancouver For A Battle Of Division Leaders

Only nine days ago the Dallas Stars faced-off with the Vancouver Canucks for the first time this season, and did so as a team with a three game winning streak. They were a team fighting to just get into the top eight in the Western Conference. Tonight when the two teams meet in Vancouver, things will be a little different. The Stars are now the Pacific Division leaders and sit third in the conference standings. But a simple defeat tonight could change that and the Stars could again be down walking the tightrope of the eight spot. That is just the way things are in the West. With every team except the Anaheim Ducks playing tonight in the West, things could be shuffled again by tomorrow morning. But with another win over the Canucks tonight the Stars could guarantee that are still holding the divisional lead tomorrow. With their seven game points-streak (6-0-1), the Stars have climbed back into the mix of everything and look to be a contender for a good playoff spot with only a month left in the season.

The Stars will start Richard Bachman in net tonight, giving Kari Lehtonen the night off to rest. The move makes sense with the Stars playing their next two games against divisional rivals at home. The team kept Bachman at the NHL level for this type of game, where they still need a good effort but would like to give Lehtonen a little time off. For the season Bachman is 7-3-1 and he won his last start on Feb. 23rd as the team came from behind to win in Chicago 3-1. Besides Lehtonen sitting down, the Stars will be without Toby Peterson (out for the birth of his child), and Brenden Morrow and Jake Dowell remain on IR. The Canucks main injury remains veteran defenseman Keith Ballard being out with a concussion.

The puck drops from Vancouver late tonight, with another 9PM start locally. Tonight’s contest always will be a little harder for some fans to watch as the broadcast will be on Fox Sports Southwest Plus because of the Mavericks game. A big start to the game is key for the visiting Stars. The Canucks 1-1-2 in their last four games but still remain at the top of the West, and their 19-7-4 home record is very intimidating. Coming out flat tonight could result in a one or two goal lead for the Canucks before the Stars even get things going. But if they can play like they have recently and keep the points-streak going as they head back home, this weekends games against the Sharks and Ducks could create a little space between the Stars and everyone in the division.

  • The Stars are 5-1-2 in their last eight road games, but the Canucks are 7-1-1 in their last nine at home.
  • This is the second of four meetings between the teams, with one more game at home for each this season.
  • The Stars are looking for a sweep of their western Canada road trip, after winning 3-1 at Edmonton and 3-2 in a shootout in Calgary.
  • Loui Eriksson is on fire right now, with 14 points in the last 13 games and the shootout goal in Calgary.

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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Brenden Morrow Dallas Stars Kari Lehtonen Keith Ballard Loui Eriksson Richard Bachman Toby Peterson Vancouver Canucks

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