The Dallas Stars return to home ice tonight to face the Vancouver Canucks, who currently hold third place in the Western Conference and lead the Northwest division.
The Stars will be fighting to regain the coveted eighth spot in the conference that would put the team in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.The Stars currently sit in 10th place, four points out of eighth and two out of ninth. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who the Stars face next Thursday, hold eighth and the Detroit Red Wings, who the Stars will see in the final home game of the season, hold ninth, just two points ahead of Dallas.
Both teams will be pushing to recover from losses in their last games, with Dallas falling to Chicago 5-2 Monday and Vancouver taking a 2-1 overtime loss to St. Louis Tuesday. The teams have split meetings thus far, with Dallas taking the first win February 15 in Vancouver and the Canucks claiming the win in Dallas a week later. The final score in both games was 4-3.
Dallas’ star goalie Kari Lehtonen will return to the ice tonight after a full week of recovery from a groin strain in last Tuesday’s 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
The Stars haven’t announced if rock-star -rookie Alex Chaisson will return to the lineup tonight after he left Monday night’s game against Chicago with a shoulder injury. Chaisson has scored six goals in the seven games since he was called up from Dallas’ Austin-based farm team , the Texas Stars, including two goals against the division-rival San Jose Sharks on the 7th and two goals against Nashville last week.
Jamie Benn will be the center of attention on the Stars bench tonight after his two-goal game against Chicago Monday night. Benn leads the team in points, and with Loui Eriksson and Ray Whitney, leads the team in goals.
Roberto Luango and Cory Schneider have been greedy in the goal for the Canucks this season, allowing on average only 2.24 goals per game, while the Stars sit just under three goals allowed per game. The teams are pretty evenly matched in penalty killing and power play ability with the Stars at 81.6 percent and 17.2 percent respectively, and the Canucks at 84.2 percent and 15 percent respectively.
The Sedin brothers lead the team in points and have both scored 11 goals this season, two shy of leading goal scorer Alexandre Burrows. The three have been responsible for only three goals in the last five games though, while Ryan Kessler has claimed three of his own in the last five.
The game kicks off tonight at 7:30 p.m. central time at the American Airlines Center and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest.