Stars look to keep rolling in Edmonton
It seems as if the Stars' season has been totally turned around in the last few games. They have taken 9 out of a possible 10 points in their last 5 games, which included wins over Montreal, Chicago, Minnesota and Vancounver, as well as a shootout loss in a thrilling encounter at the American Airlines Center against the Penguins.
The run of some sublime performances has lead to Dallas getting back into the playoff picture as they currently occupy eighth place in the Western Conference. Dallas' season was slowly stalling, but over the course of the winning streak they showed huge levels of intensity, passion and unity whilst playing some great hockey.
A surging Stars side cross the border to take on the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place tonight. The Oilers have not qualified for the playoffs for the past 5 seasons, and that number looks likely to change to 6 as they currently sit second bottom in the NHL with 56 points. Their 2011-12 campaign started pretty well, with rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins enjoying a dream start. Since then, they have stuttered throughout the middle part of the season and haven’t given themselves a chance for a late playoff dash.
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin will start in net for the struggling Oilers tonight after being absent for a while with a groin injury. Coach Renney recently spoke about the tough loss to the Blues, as well as some shuffles that could me made ahead of tonight’s game. He said: "There are two levels of teams out there, St. Louis and then there is us. I think in terms of the line makeups, because we only have 12 forwards, we'll move some people around."
This is the final time that these 2 teams meet this season, with the Stars winning both of the previous 2 encounters. Glen Gulutzan spoke today about the successful last month as well as tonight’s game. He said: "This is going to be a grind, if we think there aren't going to be ups and downs in the next 18 games, then we're kidding ourselves. When you look back in retrospect, it was a good month for us."
Tonight is the start of a crucial 3 game road trip around Canada for Dallas, as they go on to face the Flames and Canucks who will both provide stern tests. A win will be big tonight to keep the momentum going for the rest of the tough trip. Kari Lehtonen gets the start for Dallas in net, with puck drop at 9.30pm ET.