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Feb 7, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris (53) takes a glove to the face from Dallas Stars center Steve Ott (29) during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Game Preview: Dallas Stars Host The Phoenix Coyotes In A Huge Home Game

The Dallas Stars return to the ice at home tonight, looking for a big bounce-back win. While the Stars have held onto the Pacific division despite two-straight losses, tonight everything is on the line against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes are only 3-5-2 in their last ten games but coming off a 3-2 shootout win in Edmonton, they have tied the Stars in points. The Stars hold the lead currently because Phoenix has played one more game than them and they own the second tie-breaker with three more regulation or overtime wins. But the winner of the contest tonight will leave the American Airlines Center with the division lead. After the big 11-game points streak the Stars have lost two straight games by three goals each, and they will need to return to the ice playing better defense in these final games.

Hopefully the return of Sheldon Souray will help. Souray has missed the last four games because of a charley horse and the Stars defense has definitely needed him. The big veteran had been playing great since returning from another injury before he was injured against the Sharks on March 8th. Radek Dvorak is set to return tonight as well, rejoining the third line after missing the last three games with an ankle injury. For the Coyotes, Radim Vrbata, Taylor Pyatt, Adrian Aucoin are all questionable and could be game-time decisions tonight.

The puck drops from the AAC tonight at 7pm as the contest will be nationally broadcast on NBC Sports Network. The meeting will be the sixth and final one between the two teams this season, with the Coyotes holding the edge. Phoenix is 3-0-2 in the five meetings so far, while the Stars are 2-2-1, meaning that the Coyotes will win the season series no matter what happens this evening. While the two teams are tied, the winner walks away with the division lead and a distinct advantage heading forward. It’s a battle of two teams with strong penalty-kills and bad powerplays, and special teams could be a huge factor, given that games between these two teams normally are one goal games. Make sure to get the AAC early and be a part of this key game.

  • The Stars have gone two straight games without a powerplay chance and are 1-for-9 in their last five games, while the Coyotes continue to have the league’s worst PP.
  • The Coyotes are in the playoff mix because of 11 overtime/shootout losses, the most in the NHL.
  • Both teams have been carried by their top goaltenders, and Kari Lehtonen and Mike Smith will both start tonight.
  • It is also Kari Lehtonen bobblehead night at the game.

Tags: Dallas Stars Kari Lehtonen Mike Smith Phoenix Coyotes Radek Dvorak Radim Vrbata Sheldon Souray

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