Dallas Stars: Pittsburgh Penguins

The NHL won't take any disciplinary action against Dallas Stars forward Eric Nystrom for his hit on Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang in Wednesday night's game at American Airlines Center, according Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk.

Nystrom was given a roughing penalty for the hit, which happened as Letang was trying to chip a puck past the Stars forward in the Pittsburgh zone midway through the first period. Letang left the game and did not return. He was listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury by Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma following the game.

Thursday tidbits: Eric Nystrom debate

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
8:16
AM CT
During the postgame show on NBC Sports Network, Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick got into a heated debate about Eric Nystrom's hit on Kris Letang in last night's game against Pittsburgh. It's pretty good stuff and you can watch it here.

Here's a link to some photos of last night's Stars-Penguins game. You can see all the photos by Shannon Byrne here.


DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars played another strong game against a top team Wednesday night, but this time they couldn’t come with two points and had to settle for one, falling 4-3 in a shootout to Pittsburgh at American Airlines Center.

“I thought it was a really good hockey game,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Both teams played hard and well. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the extra point.”

Wednesday’s game came after the Stars’ 3-2 overtime victory over Western Conference leading Vancouver on Sunday. That’s two straight games against quality opponents where the Stars went toe-to-toe with top teams, played very well and came away with points.

“That’s a good sign for our hockey club,” Gulutzan said. “I think we outshot both opponents here and thought the games were pretty even, both games. It’s an important thing for our psyche moving forward and into this last month of March or our last 18 games now.”

Wednesday’s loss ended the Stars’ winning streak at four games, but the point gave them a one point lead over Los Angeles and Colorado in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

It was a playoff atmosphere Wednesday night as the game saw several momentum shifts over the course of 65 minutes of play plus the shootout.

“The building, the fans were really into it, you could feel it. It was kind of a back-and-forth game with the score and it was a fun game to be a part of there,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “We couldn’t pull it out in the end, but we’ll take our point and move on.”

The Stars took a 1-0 lead with 4:35 left in the first period when Steve Ott set up Jamie Benn, who scored in his first game back after missing the previous six contests due to a leg injury.

“It was just hard work by my linemates and Otter made a good pass to find me in the slot and I just tried to get it off and it went good,” Benn said. “It felt good to get back out there with the guys.”

The Penguins tied it 1-1 with 1:07 left in the first. Pascal Dupuis sent a long pass to Steve Sullivan, who scored on a breakaway.

The two teams appeared to be headed to a scoreless second period, but the Stars scored off the rush with 12.2 seconds left in the period to take a 2-1 lead. Loui Eriksson set up Sheldon Souray, who beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a shot from the slot.

The Stars’ penalty kill came up big in the second period, stopping three Pittsburgh power plays. The Stars were 5-5 on the penalty kill for the game.

“PK was real good, real good. We needed that from that group,” said Gulutzan. “Against one of the better power plays and a real hot player I thought our PK was up to the test.”

The Penguins got goals from Craig Adams and Chris Kunitz 39 seconds apart early in the third to take a 3-2 lead, but the Stars bounced a little more than three minutes later when Eriksson made a pretty cross-crease pass to Michael Ryder, who scored with 12:37 remaining to tie the game at 3-3.

The Stars had 1:46 of power play in the overtime period, but couldn't take advantage. Pittsburgh won the shootout 3-2, getting goals from James Neal, Kunitz and Dupuis, while Eriksson and Benn scored for the Stars.

"I thought we played pretty good," said Benn. "I think we outplayed them 5-on-5, we just took too many penalties and we had our chance to win there in overtime on the power play and didn’t get it done."

The win was the fourth straight for the Penguins, who are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

"They’re a tough team. They definitely played a hard game," Penguins center Jordan Staal said of the Stars. "We were down for a while there and our power play wasn’t quite getting us the goals. We got a couple of big even strength goals and found a way to win it.”

Notes

*The Stars ended the month of February with an 8-5-3 record.

*The Stars were 5-5 on the penalty kill and 0-4 on the power play.

*Pittsburgh lost defenseman Kris Letang after he was hit high by Stars forward Eric Nystrom, who was given a roughing minor on the play.

*Pittsburgh also lost forward Steve Sullivan to a lower body injury during the game.

*Adam Pardy and Toby Petersen were healthy scratches for Dallas.

*Wednesday night’s attendance was 17,455.

Postgame quotes

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
10:35
PM CT
Here are some postgame quotes following the Dallas Stars 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan

“I thought it was a really good hockey game. Both teams played hard and well. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the extra point.”

Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski

“It was good, the building the fans were really into it, you could feel it. It was kind of a back-and-forth game with the score and it was a fun game to be a part of there. We couldn’t pull it out in the end, but we’ll take our point and move on.”

Stars forward Jamie Benn

“I thought we played pretty good. I think we outplayed them 5-on-5, we just took too many penalties and we had our chance to win there in overtime on the power play and didn’t get it done.”

Stars forward Eric Nystrom on his hit on Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang

“I’m coming in on the forecheck, I am going in to play the man and he is reaching in for the puck. I didn’t even touch his head, I hit him shoulder-to-shoulder. I had four minor penalties coming into this game, I am not a headhunter.”

Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma on the status of Kris Letang and what he thought of the hit

“Kris Letang is upper body and day-to-day at this point. It’s a hit along the boards, reaching for the puck. I have not seen the replay on it. I know 24 traveled the distance to go into make the hit.”

Pittsburgh center Jordan Staal on the game

“They’re a tough team. They definitely played a hard game. We were down for a while there and our power play wasn’t quite getting us the goals. We got a couple of big even strength goals and found a way to win it.”

Stars fall to Penguins in shootout, 4-3

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
7:20
PM CT
The Dallas Stars' four-game winning streak came to an end with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night at American Airlines Center. Jamie Benn, Sheldon Souray and Michael Ryder scored goals for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen stopped 26 of 29 shots and one of four in the shootout. The Stars, who remain in eighth place in the Western Conference, finished February with an 8-5-3 record.

First period

The Stars scored first with 4:35 left in the first when Steve Ott got to the rebound of an Adam Burish shot and set up Jamie Benn, who beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a shot from the slot.

The Penguins tied it 1:07 before the first intermission when Pascal Dupuis set up Steve Sullivan on a breakaway and Sullivan beat Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen with a backhand shot.

Pittsburgh lost defenseman Kris Letang midway through the first period when he was hit high by Stars forward Eric Nystrom. The Penguins announced that Letang would not return with an upper body injury. Nystrom was given a minor for roughing.

The Stars’ penalty kill came up big in the period, going 2-2 against the Pittsburgh power play. The Stars had one power play chance, but couldn’t cash in.

Second period

The Penguins got their third power play early in the second period, and Fleury made a sharp glove save on Vernon Fiddler’s shorthanded breakaway. The Penguins came close to score on the power play, but an Evgeni Malkin backhand from a sharp angle hit the crossbar.

The Penguins got a fourth power play at the 4:32 mark of the second period, but the Stars were able to kill that one off and it remained a 1-1 game.

Pittsburgh got a fifth power play 8:40 into the second period, but again the Stars killed it off.

The Stars put together an impressive couple of shifts to keep Pittsburgh pinned in its own end and ended up drawing its second power play of the night, but the Stars couldn’t take advantage.

Fleury came up with another big save late in the period, stopping Adam Burish on a two-on-one with 1:08 left in the period.

But the Stars took a 2-1 lead with 12.2 seconds remaining with a goal off the rush. Loui Eriksson set up Sheldon Souray, who beat Fleury with a shot from the slot.

The Penguins announced in the second intermission that forward Steve Sullivan was out for the rest of the game with a lower body injury

Third period

The Penguins tied the game 3:33 into the third period. Jordan Staal got the puck along the right boards, skated into the slot and his shot was tipped past Lehtonen by Craig Adams.

The Penguins took the lead 39 seconds later when Paul Martin’s shot from the right point was deflected into the net by Chris Kunitz.

Less than a minute later the Stars had a chance to tie, but Fleury stopped Loui Eriksson’s breakaway bid.

The Stars did get the equalizer at the 7:23 mark when Eriksson drove the net and lifted a pass over the crease to Michael Ryder, who tapped it into the net to tie the game at 3-3.

The Stars went on their third power play with 11:36 after Malkin and Nystrom got in a scrum and Malkin picked up an extra roughing minor. The Stars had a great chance, but Fleury, while on down in the crease, stopped a close range bid by Ribeiro.

The Stars went on their fourth power play with 14 seconds remaining in regulation. The Stars didn’t score and the power play carried over into overtime.

Overtime/Shootout

The Stars couldn’t take advantage of the 1:46 of four-on-three power play time to open overtime.

During the four-on-four play, Fleury made a big stop on a point blank bid by Stephane Robidas and a Souray blast hit the crossbar with 44 seconds remaining.

In the shootout, Kunitz, James Neal and Dupuis scored for Pittsburgh. Eriksson and Benn scored for the Stars. Pittsburgh took the shootout 3-2 and the game 4-3.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Burish
Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak
Garbutt-Wandell-Vincour

Souray-Robidas
Fistric-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Scratched: Pardy, Petersen
Injured: Dowell (finger), Morrow (neck/shoulder)

Matt Niskanen thriving with Pittsburgh

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
1:23
PM CT
DALLAS -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are in town tonight and that means that former Stars James Neal and Matt Niskanen will be playing at the American Airlines Center for the first time since last season's trade that brought defenseman Alex Goligoski to the Stars.

Goligoski and Neal were the big names in the trade, and that means Niskanen often gets overlooked. But Niskanen is having a solid season with the Penguins, registering 18 points (3 goals, 15 assists) and a plus-8 rating in 61 games.

“A lot of confidence in the way he’s played and defended for our team this year," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of Niskanen after this morning's skate. "He’s been in a lot of different roles - first power play, second power play. He’s been in our top four given our injuries, maybe our best and most improved player from the start of the season. He’s been playing well, he’s been defending and has been good with the puck. He’s added to our power play in the absence of Kris Letang when he was out for numerous games. Matt’s done a real good job for us this year, been a strong performer to us.”

Niskanen played three-and-a-half seasons with the Stars. He had an impressive rookie season in 20o7-08 but by the time he was traded last season he was having a hard time getting into the lineup.

"Those are hard lessons, I think. It stinks being in and out of the lineup and not playing well," said Niskanen. "I had success early here and some of that because I was playing well and some of that was because I was playing with good guys and on a good team. A lot of things went right for me early and then all of a sudden things went south. I think that in the long run is going to make me a better player. I think it already has this year.

"I needed to get out when I did. That was a welcome change for me. Whether it was good times or bad times, I learned a lot here and and it's going to help me moving forward."

Niskanen has been with the Pittsburgh a little more than a year now, and said his comfort level has started to grow, especially this season.

"It's been a really good change for me. Last spring just opened my eyes to a fresh start," said Niskanen. "I welcomed the change and I think starting this year is when I really started to feel comfortable and started to get the confidence back and started playing a little better. It's been a good year for me. It's really going well and the team is doing well. It's been a blast."
DALLAS -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are in town tonight to take on the Dallas Stars. It's another big game for the Stars, who are battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Jamie Benn will return to the Stars lineup after missing the last six games with a leg injury.

"I’m excited. You want to get back in there and help your team out to try and make a strong push for the playoffs," Benn said. "There’s two big points on the line tonight and we need them.”

Kari Lehtonen is in goal for the Stars and Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start for the Penguins.

Sidney Crosby, who is on injured reserve with concussion and neck issues, skated with the Penguins this morning at American Airlines Center.

Jake Dowell (broken finger) skated at the AAC this morning. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Dowell is one week away. Stars captain Brenden Morrow is expected to start skating later this week and could be ready after the Stars return from their upcoming road trip.

Here's the Stars projected lineup:

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Burish
Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak
Garbutt-Wandell-Vincour

Souray-Robidas
Fistric-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen

Stars-Penguins Preview

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
11:09
PM CT
Pittsburgh Penguins at Dallas Stars
Wednesday February 29
6:30 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: KTCK-1310 (AM)

About the Stars

The Stars (33-26-4) are coming off a 3-2 overtime win over Vancouver on Sunday. Mike Ribeiro scored with 52.5 seconds left to tie the game and Loui Eriksson won it with 1:8 left in overtime. It was the fourth straight win for the Stars, who continue to hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“We’re battling for that last playoff spot, and hopefully we can get maybe a little bit higher,” Stars center Vernon Fiddler said. “Momentum at this time of the year is very important, and it seems like over the last four games we’ve been building that, and we have to roll with it.”

Stars center Jamie Benn will return to the lineup after missing six games with a leg injury.

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal for Dallas.

Injuries: C Jake Dowell (finger) and LW Brenden Morrow (neck/shoulder) are out.

About the Penguins

Pittsburgh (36-21-5) won their third straight game, defeating Columbus 4-2 on Sunday. The Penguins scored three third period goals to break a 1-1 tied and goaltender Brad Thiessen stopped 21 shots in his NHL debut. The win completed a weekend back-to-back sweep of Tampa Bay and Columbus for Pittsburgh.

"That's two big consistent wins for us," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "I thought we had two good responses."

Wednesday’s game is the first of two-game road trip for the Penguins. They play at Colorado Saturday.

Injuries: F Arron Asham (upper body) and G Brent Johnson (undisclosed) are day-to-day. C Sidney Crosby (concussion/neck) and RW Tyler Kennedy (ankle) are out.

Series notes

*This is the second of two meetings between the two teams.

*Pittsburgh won the first meeting, defeating Dallas 3-1 in Pittsburgh on November 11.

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars are 8-5-2 since the All-Star break.

*The Penguins are 8-4-1 since the break.

*Pittsburgh is 6-13 (46.2%) on the power play over the last four games.

*The Stars are 21-23 (91.3%) on the penalty kill over their last seven games.

*The Penguins have allowed just two power play goals over their last 12 games and are 37-39 (94.9%) on the penalty kill during that stretch.

*Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin has scored 5 goals in the last three games.

*Stars center Mike Ribeiro has 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) during a seven-game points streak.

*Over his last three starts, Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen is 3-0-0 with a 0.98 goals against average and .965 save percentage.

A couple notes on former Dallas Stars for your Sunday morning:

*Former Stars left wing James Neal got a big contract extension from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins announced Sunday morning that they signed Neal to a six-year extension worth $5 million per season.

Neal, who was acquired from the Stars along with defenseman Matt Niskanen in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski last season, has 30 goals this season, which ranks third in the NHL.

The Stars signed Goligoski to a four-year, $18.4 million extension last month.

*Former Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman made his debut with the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. The Flyers lost 6-4 to the Penguins, but Grossman had a solid game. He played 18:26, was a plus-one, had eight hits and three blocked shots.

The Stars traded Grossman to the Flyers on Thursday in exchange for a 2012 second-round pick and a 2013 third-round pick in the NHL Entry Draft.

Stars 21st in ESPN Power Rankings

November, 28, 2011
11/28/11
12:56
PM CT
The Dallas Stars are 21st in this week's ESPN NHL Power Rankings, down from 13th one week ago.

Scott Burnside, who put together this week's rankings, offers this take on the Stars:
The Stars have a new owner; now they have to find the success that has escaped them in the past month. The Stars have won just two of nine games -- a streak that is threatening to undo all of the good work done out of the gate -- and it doesn't get any easier with Kari Lehtonen on injured reserve.

Boston is No. 1 in this week's rankings, followed by Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Jose and the New York Rangers. The complete rankings are here.


Postgame notes

November, 12, 2011
11/12/11
12:06
AM CT
Some notes on Friday’s game that saw the Dallas Stars fall 3-1 at Pittsburgh.

Special teams key: The Stars won the five-on-five battle, at least on the scoreboard, 1-0, but the game turned on special teams. All three Pittsburgh goals came as the result of penalties on Dallas. Pittsburgh was 2-5 on the power play and scored on a penalty shot as well. Whether the calls were good ones or bad ones, the Penguins executed better on special teams. The Stars have now allowed seven power play goals over the last four games and are 16-23 (69.6%) on the PK during that stretch. The Stars were 0-2 on the power play. It’s only the second time in the last seven games the Stars have failed to score on the PP. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has not allowed a power play goal this season in 40 shorthanded situations.

Turning point: No goal, no problem for Penguins: Both Pittsburgh power play goals by James Neal came just moments after the Penguins had apparent power play goals waved off. The first one was nullified because the puck was deflected in by a Chris Kunitz high stick. The second one was waved off because Kunitz interfered with Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. In each case the Penguins persevered and scored. The first one tied the game and the second one ended up being the game-winner.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better response from a team and the guys, both in preparing themselves to go back out when it was a no-goal call and then going out and executing with the rest of the power play,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “That’s pretty impressive to get back out there and not put your head down, get ready to execute and take advantage of what was left. They were both very big goals for us.”

Video review explanation: Here was the NHL’s explanation (provided by Stars PR) on the video review of the Pittsburgh goal that was waved off late in the second period due to being deflected into the net by a high stick:
“At 17:32 of the second period in the Penguins/Stars game, video review proved inconclusive. Therefore referee Furlatt's call on the ice -- that Penguins forward Chris Kunitz deflected the puck into the net with his stick above the crossbar -- stands. No goal Pittsburgh.”
Nystrom continues to roll: Stars forward Eric Nystrom continues his goal scoring roll. He ran his goal scoring streak to four games and now has five in the last six games. With his five goals this season, Nystrom has surpassed his total for all of last season, which was four in 82 games with Minnesota.

Benn line Staaled: The Jamie Benn line, which has been tearing it up lately, was held off the score sheet Friday night. Benn, who had no shots on goal in the game, had a six-game points streak snapped. Loui Eriksson had four shots on goal, but his five-game points streak ended. Michael Ryder, who had seven points over the last three games, had no shots on goal. Give some credit to Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal line(Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis on the wings), which went head-to-head with Benn’s line most of the night. The defense pairings of Paul Martin-Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik-Deryk Engelland played a big role, too.

Statistical tidbits: The Stars fell to 7-3-0 when scoring first. … The Stars are now 6-3-0 when tied after two periods. … The Stars suffered their first loss of the season against the Eastern Conference and are now 3-1-0 against the East.

Sluggish Stars fall in Pittburgh

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
10:55
PM CT
Friday night’s game in Pittsburgh was another measuring stick for the Dallas Stars, and this time they came up short. Former Star James Neal scored two power play goals to lead the Penguins past the Stars 3-1, snapping Dallas’ winning streak at four games.

“We were stale in the first ten minutes. We weren’t skating, we weren’t moving our feet. I thought our D were stagnant. It took us a while to get going,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “I think that was the key, we just didn’t come out and establish our game. Give them credit, they came out and played the way they wanted to play.”

Although the Stars came out slow, they were able to grab a lead 16 minutes into the game and held that lead until about the 38 minute mark, but three penalties over a 12 minute span led to two power play goals by Neal and a penalty shot goal by Matt Cooke that turned a 1-0 Dallas lead into a 3-1 edge for the Penguins that they would make stand for the rest of the night.

“We knew we had to stay away from that penalty kill tonight, but every time we turned around we were in the box,” said Gulutzan. “If you are going against a 22 or 23 percent power play, our plan was to keep our penalties to under three or four. We didn’t.”

It was a rough night on the blue line for the Stars, who lost Alex Goligoski after the first period and then Mark Fistric late in the second. Goligoski did not return after taking a puck off the hand. He is returning to Dallas for X-rays and could be out “a bit,” according to Gulutzan. Fistric was hit in the throat by a puck, but did return for the third period.

Pittsburgh had the territorial advantage and a 13-5 edge in shots over the first period, but the Stars scored the only goal. Off the rush, Radek Dvorak made a slick backhand center pass from the left wing that Eric Nystrom chipped over Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at the 16:02 mark.

The Penguins tied the game in the second period with their first power play tally of the night. Seconds after a goal was waved off for Chris Kunitz tipping it in with a high stick, Neal scored off a blast from the left circle to make it a 1-1 game with 2:04 left in the second.

Pittsburgh took the lead with a power play goal at 7:19 of the third. Again, it happened a short time after an apparently power play goal by Kunitz was waved off, this one for goalie interference. The Penguins scored the actual goal when Neal’s pass for Kunitz deflected off the stick of Fistric and into the net. The goal was credited to Neal, his second of the night and 11th of the season.

“It’s always nice to get it against your former team,” Neal said. “The main thing is us playing a top team and beating them. They came in here to play us hard and we came back and played a great game ourselves.”

Just 2:09 later the Penguins went up 3-1 when Matt Cooke scored on a penalty shot, showing backhand and then beating Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen with a wrist shot on his first career penalty shot.

“He (Lehtonen) has never seen me. Neither has any other goalie, except for our two,” Cooke joked.

The Stars pulled Lehtonen late in the game for the extra attacker, but couldn’t cut into the Pittsburgh lead and suffered just their second loss in the last seven games and just their fourth in 15 to start the season.

“We just had a tough time getting our legs going tonight,” said Nystrom. “Those nights happen and it’s disappointing because you’re on a stage like that with a chance to show your best and play your best. That’s the most disappointing thing because we know we are a lot better team than that. It’s just one of those nights.”

And now it's on to Detroit, where they'll play the Red Wings Saturday night.

"Tonight, I thought we got outworked,"Gulutzan said. "I don't want to see that happen tomorrow night."

Notes

*Stars forward Steve Ott missed his fourth straight game with a hip pointer.

*Adam Pardy and Jake Dowell were healthy scratches for the Stars.

Friday update: Stars vs. Penguins

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
12:50
PM CT


The Dallas Stars take on the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in a matchup of the conference leaders.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan talked about the matchup and the formula for success.

“For me personally, I am not only really excited to play this team, but to watch them," he said. "A team that has had this much success for a long time , it’s going to be a good measuring stick for us. This is one of the three games we talked about -- Washington, this one and Detroit. It’s a good way to measure yourself.”

Gulutzan continued: “We don’t want to play and east-west game. We want to play north-south. It’s a pretty simple game. We want to get pucks deep, slashing and getting pucks to the net. And we need to work back real hard to the other end.”

Brenden Morrow, who missed yesterday’s practice with an elbow injury, is fine and will play tonight.

“Brenden’s a go,” Gulutzan said. “He fell on his elbow and got some stitches. You know that is not going to hold him out.”

Mark Fistric stays in the lineup and Adam Pardy is the scratch on defense. Jake Dowell will be the scratch at forward and Krys Barch will be in the lineup.

“Barch has played with lots of energy and been physical for us,” said Gulutzan.

Steve Ott (hip pointer) will miss his fourth straight game and will be out for Saturday’s game in Detroit as well.

Kari Lehtonen starts in goal for the Stars and it will be Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.

Niskanen set to face Stars

Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen, who was along with James Neal was part of the deal that brought Alex Goligoski to Dallas, will be facing his former team for the first time Friday night.

“It’s a new experience for me. I’ve never played against a former NHL team,” Niskanen said. “I have lots of good friends over there, lots of old friends. I’m excited to play against them and play my best so we can beat them.”

Niskanen was asked if he knows how much things have changed under Gulutzan.

“From what I have heard, it’s a big change over there,” Niskanen said. “The way they are on the bench, the way they play in practice and their attitude around the rink. It’s been a dramatic change with the coaching change and the results of how they’ve been playing. It’s been a good one for that group and they are responding really well.”

Quotable: Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma on the Stars

“We’re playing a team we don’t see very much, but the team that is leading the league in points. They’ve been playing very well. Their forward lines of Ryder-Eriksson-Benn have been outstanding and deserving of the All-Star bids that they’ve gotten. Benn with his speed, shot and ability has been dominant. Their defense has been playing very well. Souray has come back and playing with a vengeance. You see how good his shot can be, but he’s also playing well defensively. Their goaltender (Lehtonen) has found his groove and playing very well. It’s a tough task tonight. The two top teams in each conference. I’m looking forward to that matchup.”
Friday’s game is going to be a little different for Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. For the first time since being traded to the Dallas Stars, Goligoski will be playing in Pittsburgh, where he started his NHL career, played four seasons and won a Stanley Cup.

“I’m sure it will be weird. It’s not too weird coming to the building, but playing against the guys it’s going to be kind of weird having been with them for so long,” Goligoski said. “It’s like I know what they’re going to do before they do it, and they probably think the same thing about me. It’ll probably be a little weird for a few shifts there.”

While Friday’s experience will be a new one for Goligoski, he’s settled in now with the Stars following last February’s trade that brought him to Dallas and sent forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Penguins.

“It’s been fun. It was a whirlwind, but starting the year this year things have been great. The team is playing really well. It’s a little different weather, but it’s been good nonetheless,” Goligoski said. “You get settled, get an apartment, you’re more comfortable, you get to know the guys better. It’s a better situation. When you’re comfortable then you’re playing well.”

The Stars saw the deal as important move to shore up their blue line and give them a skilled, puck moving defenseman.

“We look at Goose and we just see an elite defenseman,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Great character, elite defenseman offensive and defensively. He’s a well-rounded guy. He cares as much about defending as he does about points. That’s rare with some guys. He competes at both ends. He’s an invaluable guy for us.”

The trade to Dallas was an opportunity for Goligoski, who was down Pittsburgh’s defensive depth chart at the time of the deal. It was an also an opportunity for the Penguins to add some scoring punch up front with the acquisition of Neal.

“We had a lot of good defensemen in Pittsburgh. They were looking for a forward for a long time. It was just one of those things. Someone has to go if you’re going to bring someone in,” Goligoski said. “Hopefully, it works out for both sides. Both teams are doing well, so right now it looks like it.”

James Neal faces former Dallas teammates

Friday’s game will mark Penguins forward James Neal’s first game against his former teammates since last season’s trade.

“Obviously I’ve got a lot of good friends over there, but a lot of guys have been traded and play against their old teams. It will be all business when we play,” Neal said.

Neal scored only one goal in 20 games with the Penguins last season following the trade, but he’s off to a good start this season. He has nine goals in 15 games and his tied for fifth in the league in goal scoring.

Notes

*Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby will not play Friday against the Stars. There had been speculation that Crosby, who has not played since January due to a concussion, could return Friday, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Thursday that Crosby would not play this weekend.

*Stars forward Brenden Morrow did not practice Thursday due to an elbow issue. He is probable for Friday.

*The Stars placed forward Steve Ott (hip pointer) on injured reserve retroactive to October 29. The move opens up a roster spot if Morrow can’t play and the Stars want to call up a player from the minors.

*Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Kari Lehtonen, Mike Ribeiro and Sheldon Souray are all on the ballot for this season’s NHL All-Star Game. Voting begins November 14. The All-Star Game is January 29 in Ottawa.

*The court hearing to approve the sale of the Dallas Stars has been moved from November 23 to November 18. The sale still needs to be closed and must be approved by the NHL Board of Governors. If all goes well, Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi could be the team’s new owner in less than two weeks.

Stars-Penguins Preview

November, 10, 2011
11/10/11
10:48
PM CT
Dallas Stars at Pittsburgh Penguins
Friday November 11
6:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: KTCK-1310 (AM)

About the Stars

The Stars (11-3-0) improved to 2-0-0 on their current road trip with a 5-2 win at Washington Tuesday night. It was the fifth win in the last six road games for the Stars. The Stars have two games left on the trip – Friday’s tilt against Pittsburgh and then the Red Wings in Detroit on Saturday.

“We’re trying to gauge ourselves against the league, coming into Washington and then going to Pittsburgh and Detroit. We feel this is going to be a real good measuring stick. Tonight we liked our game and I think it gives us confidence moving forward,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said after the win over the Capitals.

The Stars have won four straight games overall.

Kari Lehtonen will get the start in goal for the Stars.

Injuries: LW Brenden Morrow (elbow) is probable. LW Steve Ott (hip pointer) is out.

About the Penguins

The Penguins (9-3-3) haven’t played since Saturday, when they wrapped up a three-game road trip with a 3-2 shootout win at Los Angeles. The Penguins, who went 1-1-1 on the trip and played the final two games against Western Conference teams, now play the team sitting at the top of the standings in the West.

“Dallas [is a] team that’s coming in here playing very good hockey, beating some good teams, and has the most points,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “We have to be ready for maybe the best team in the league right now.”

Bylsma said Thursday that C Sidney Crosby, who has not played since January due to a concussion, would not play Friday.

Injuries: F Tyler Kennedy (concussion) is questionable. C Sidney Crosby (concussion), D Ben Lovejoy (wrist) and D Zbynek Michalek (hand) are out.

Series notes

*This is the first of two meetings between the Stars and Penguins this season.

*The Stars won last season’s only meeting, defeating the Penguins 5-2 in Dallas.

*The Stars are 1-4-1 in their last six games against the Penguins.

*The Stars are 57-62-13 all-time against Pittsburgh.

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars have outscored their opposition 28-19 in five-on-five play and have the best five-on-five goals for/goals against ratio in the league (1.47).

*Pittsburgh has been outscored 27-24 during five-on-five play this season.

*The Penguins have not allowed a power play goal in 13 of their 15 games this season and have the top ranked penalty kill in the league at 93.2 percent (41-44).

*The Stars are 7-24 (29.2%) on the power play over the last six games.

*The Penguins are 6-24 (25.0%) on the power play over their last six games.

*Stars forward Jamie Benn has a six-game points streak (3 goals, 8 assists).

*Stars forward Loui Eriksson has a five-game points streak (3 goals, 6 assists).

*Stars forward Eric Nystrom has a three-game goal scoring streak (3 goals).

*Pittsburgh forward James Neal has a four-game points streak (1 goal, 4 assists).


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