Tons at stake for the Stars in Tuesday’s game against the Flames
Stars (23-17-2, 48 points) vs. Flames (21-13-6, 48 points)
7:30 p.m. CT, American Airlines Center
TV: Bally Sports South West
Radio: Ticket 96.7-FM, 1310-AM
Video: Rea and Severyn in Stars-Flames preview
Every game matters when you’re aiming for an elusive playoff spot, but Tuesday’s game against the Calgary Flames could be a cut above the Stars’ emergency ladder.
The Stars and Flames both have 48 points, and both are very focused on moving up their respective division standings while pushing their opponents further. That can be accomplished on Tuesday when the two meet at the American Airlines Center.
“We’re going to fight with these guys all year for a playoff spot,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “To have a chance you have to at least stay in the top five of your division and then you fight with the other five teams in the other division. It’s a huge game, especially before the all-star break. If we win tonight, we know we take eighth place.”
The Flames were streaked, as were the Stars. They are 3-1-0 in their last four games with 6-0 and 7-1 wins, but also suffered a 5-1 loss to the Blues on Thursday. They’re coming off a 1-0 win at home to Vancouver on Saturday, so they look to be in a good place. They have also played 26 games on the road (compared to 15 at home) and are 14-9-2 in those games.
“Right now these guys are playing really well,” Bowness said. “That top line is plus-81. They can score, they’re very good on the run, they get outstanding goaltenders and they’re very good on the road. They’ve only played 15 games at home and they are right there in the battle, so it’s a tough team.”
The first line of Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm was spectacular, as was the first line of the Stars Joe Pavelsky with Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson. The two could face off tonight, as Bowness liked the line’s work against Boston’s top line in a 6-1 win on Sunday.
“He’s probably one of our best defensive players,” Bowness said of Hintz. “He’s just a very solid player both ways, exciting offensively and reliable defensively. He’s a No.1 centre. He’s so good.”
Video: “We are going to fight with these guys all year long”
What to watch
The Stars saw several players break long droughts in the last game.
Alexander Radulov scored for the first time since October, and just his second of the season. Jamie Benn broke an 11-game drought and Luke Glendening scored his first point since November.
It was a great feeling in the 6-1 win over a good Boston team, and it could possibly take the strain off a few shoulders.
“You watched Radulov today and he was flying there. He slams the puck left, right and center,” Bowness said. “If we go anywhere we need a balanced scoreline. We said that. We can’t just rely on Roope’s line. It was a big goal for Glennie, a big goal for Jamie and a huge goal for Rads. No we like to score more goals than Rads – the emotion, the passion is contagious.”
Radulov agreed, saying everyone should participate.
“It’s always good to score, even if it’s been a while since I was able to score,” Radulov said. “Always keep pushing and try to do the little things right for the team, for the W for the team. I knew at some point it was going to turn around and go my way. Hopefully I’ll grab it and keep it Go.”
Michael Raffl, Braden Holtby and Joel Kiviranta are injured. They are expected to be back after the break.
Here is a possible composition:
Flames goaltender Jakob Markstrom ranks fourth in goals-against average at 2.15. He is 16-10-5 with a .924 save percentage. The Flames as a team rank second in the NHL in goals-against-average at 2.48.
Calgary ranks second in the NHL in shots on goal per game with 34.8. The Flames rank sixth in the fewest shots against with 29.3.
Calgary allowed 26 goals in the first period, the second fewest in the league. Dallas allowed 29, fourth-fewest.
He said it
“It’s like our team is playing: inconsistent. We need to understand better when we can be aggressive and when we can’t, when we need to let them settle in and attack that first pass. We need to get back to that.” – Bowness on a shorthanded who has struggled lately
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This story has not been submitted for endorsement by the National Hockey League or the Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a senior writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.