Dallas Stars: Toby Petersen

With three games left in the season the Dallas Stars are now on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. The Stars fell to ninth place in the Western Conference Saturday, falling 3-0 to the Sharks in San Jose.

The Sharks, who entered the game one point behind the Stars, started strong, scoring in the first minute of the game and controlling play for most of the night.

“We needed to put more pucks on their net, create some more residual chances there. They had a lot of jump and did it to us,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “They got that one early and it kind of set us back. The early jump was kind of the difference.”

Sharks center Joe Thornton set up a wide open Joe Pavelski, who beat Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen with a shot from the slot just 58 seconds into the game to give San Jose an early 1-0 lead.

The Stars put the Sharks on three power play s in the first period and San Jose cashed in on the third one. Martin Havlat set up Jason Demers, who scored from the left circle late in the period to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead.

It was not the first period the Stars needed.

“Our start, for one thing. I think they doubled up on us in shots early in the game. We wanted to be disciplined and stay out of the penalty box. We didn’t do that. They made us pay on the power play,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. “Playing with more desperation. Our backs are against the wall. It was kind of a must win for us and we didn’t get the start we needed.”

Pavelski added another goal in the second period. Antti Niemi stopped a total of 22 shots for the Sharks, who outshot the Stars 34-22 in the game.

“It was the biggest game of the year for us,” Thornton said. “We started well and I though we competed hard all the way through. It was a good job by us.”

The Stars have lost six of their last nine games and went 1-3-0 on their just concluded four-game road trip. They fell to 1-11-2 in the second games of back-to backs.

“I was a little bit worried about this game coming in. We’ve never been good in back-to-backs,” Gulutzan said. “The whole road trip, I was most disappointed with the Calgary game (5-4 loss). We’d be sitting in a different situation in a winnable hockey game.”

The Stars are one point behind the eighth place Sharks, who will be at American Airlines Center Tuesday to conclude the home-and-home series.

“We’ve got to move on. We’ve got a big game against this team Tuesday,” Gulutzan said. “Our fate is in our own hands, still, and at this juncture of the season that is what you have to focus on.”

The Stars have three games remaining and it’s a tough schedule. They host San Jose onTuesday, play at Nashville on Thursday and then wrap up the season with a game against St. Louis on Saturday at American Airlines Center.

“We are where we are and, like I said, we still control our own destiny,” Gulutzan said. “We don’t need someone to beat somebody else. We just need to win our last three games.”

And that quest starts Tuesday with the rematch against the Sharks.

“We’ve just got to bounce back,” Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas said. “We’ve got to learn from what we did wrong tonight. We’re playing the same team, so it should be fresh in our memory. It won’t be a different system, we know how they play and what they’re trying to do. It’s a good team, but it’s a team we can beat.”

Notes

*Stars defenseman Mark Fistric returned to the lineup after missing the last five games with an abdominal strain.

*Stars forward Toby Petersen was in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past 15 games. He played 4:46 in the game.

*Radek Dvorak (ankle), Eric Nystrom (leg) and Tom Wandell (illness) were out for Dallas.

*Reilly Smith, Adam Pardy and Jordie Benn were healthy scratches for Dallas.

Mark Fistric in for Stars in San Jose

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
9:13
PM CT
Stars defenseman Mark Fistric is back in the lineup for tonight’s crucial game against the Sharks in San Jose after missing the last five games with an abdominal strain. Adam Pardy will come out the lineup for the Stars.

Also, Toby Petersen will be back in the lineup for Dallas. He’s been a healthy scratch the last 15 games. Reilly Smith, who has played the last two games, will sit this one out.

Kari Lehtonen in goal for the Stars and Antti Niemi will get the start for San Jose.
FRISCO -- Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn said he is feeling fine after taking a couple of hard hits in Tuesday night's 4-3 shootout win over Phoenix at American Airlines Center.

"Feeling fine, normal," Benn said.

The first hit came when Phoenix captain Shane Doan caught in him in the head with an elbow. Doan, who received an elbowing minor during the game for the hit, faces possible suspension. He has a disciplinary hearing with the league later this afternoon. Benn was asked if he was disappointed with Doan's hit.

"No, it's hockey. It's so fast out there, things happen," Benn said. "I'll let the league deal with it."

Benn also was shaken up in overtime when he was hit hard into the boards by Phoenix's Antoine Vermette. Benn received some assistance in the tunnel leading to the locker room, but returned in time for the shootout.

"It was a tough play. I was tripped into the boards and slid in there," Benn said. "It was a little bit of a scramble. I fell into the boards pretty hard, got up and toe-picked (fell donw) and skated off."

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Benn will be fine for Thursday's game against Vancouver.

Defenseman Mark Fistric is out for Thurday's game with abdominal strain. He left the game in the second period and did not return.

"Fisty is out. He's a got a little ab strain. He's going to be a day-to-day guy. He's a little sore today," Gulutzan said. "Pards (Adam Pardy) will come in tomorrow."

The Stars held an optional skate today. Goalies Kari Lehtonen and Richard Bachman were both on the ice along with Pardy, Philip Larsen, Toby Petersen, Ryan Garbutt, Tomas Vincour and Jordie Benn.

Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott both in tonight

March, 10, 2012
3/10/12
12:27
PM CT
DALLAS -- Brenden Morrow and Steve Ott both will be in the lineup tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center.

Morrow has missed the last 18 games with neck and back issues. He's expected to play on a line with Ott and Jamie Benn, and Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said they'll ease Morrow back into things.

"We're going to manage his minutes," Gulutzan said. "Probably between 10 and 12, or 10 and 14, somewhere in there for the first game in five-and-a-half weeks."

Ott missed the last game with back spasms, but said he felt fine after going through Saturday morning's skate.

"It feels good," Ott said. "I finally got it to loosen up with a lot of rehab over the past couple days."

With Ott and Morrow both returning, the Stars will have to scratch three forwards. Gulutzan said Toby Petersen will be one of the scratches, but the others would be game-time decisions.

With Sheldon Souray out with a lower body injury, Adam Pardy will be back in the lineup. He's expected to be paired with Philip Larsen. The other defensive pairings will be Alex Goligoski-Stephane Robidas and Mark Fistric-Trevor Daley.

Kari Lehtonen is in goal tonight.
FRISCO, Texas -- Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray will miss Saturday's game against Anaheim with a lower body injury. Souray left Thursday night's shootout win over San Jose in the second period with the injury and did not return.

"He's a little sore today. He won't be a game player for tomorrow," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I'd say he's 50-50 for the Tuesday-Wednesday games (at Minnesota and Winnipeg)."

Steve Ott, who missed Thursday night's game with back spasms, is questionable for Saturday.

"We'll see after the morning skate," Gulutzan said.

Brenden Morrow, who has missed the last 18 games with neck/back issue, took part in Friday's optional skate. He's getting closer to returning, but whether he'll play Saturday is up in the air.

"Right now it's one day at a time. I got a good skate in today. I'll see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow," Morrow said. "I think tomorrow is questionable. If I don't get in there tomorrow, I am expected in Minnesota at least."

Morrow will skate with the team Saturday morning and determination on his status will be made then.

"I think we'll see after the morning skate where he is at," Gulutzan said. "Brenden and I are going to talk here shortly to see where he is at. I would say Tuesday Brenden is for sure and tomorrow, we'll see after the morning skate."

Defenseman Mark Fistric, who left Thursday's game early in the third period, is fine, according to Gulutzan.

"He'll be a game player tomorrow," Gulutzan said.

The players taking part in the optional skate today were Morrow, Kari Lehtonen, Richard Bachman, Jake Dowell, Tomas Vincour, Ryan Garbutt, Toby Petersen and Adam Pardy.

Lehtonen will start in goal tomorrow.
Richard Bachman will get the nod in goal when the Dallas Stars play at Vancouver on Tuesday night. It will be Bachman's second start in the last seven games. In his last start he stopped 26 of 27 shots in a 3-1 victory at Chicago on February 23.

"If you look at our schedule down the road we'll probably rely on Kari [Lehtonen] quite extensively for a lot of the time," said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. "This is a day with travel -- we've got to travel back to play San Jose (Thursday) -- it sets up good to play Bacher."

Bachman is 7-3-1 with a 2.58 goals against average and .916 save percentage this season.

Gulutzan said forward Toby Petersen, who traveled back to Dallas over the weekend for the birth of his third child, will stay in Dallas and rejoin the team after it returns from this road trip.

Notes: Stars' run by the numbers

March, 4, 2012
3/04/12
12:13
AM CT
The Dallas Stars have put together a nice 5-0-1 run over their last six games. Here some statistical tidbits on the run.

*Excluding the goals awarded for a shootout win, the Stars have outscored their opposition 19-8 during the six games for an average margin of 3.17 to 1.33 per game.

*The Stars have scored three goals in five of the six games and four in the other game.

*The Stars have allowed one goal or fewer in four of the six games.

*The Stars have outscored the opposition 17-7 during five-on-five play over the six games.

*The Stars have allowed just one power play goal during the six games, going 17-18 (94.4%) on the penalty kill.

*The Stars' top line of Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder has scored 10 of the team’s 19 goals over the last six games. Ryder has scored four and Eriksson and Ribeiro both have scored three.

*The only other Star to score multiple goals during the run is Tom Wandell, who has two.

*Goaltender Kari Lehtonen is 4-0-1 with a 1.37 goals against average and .948 save percentage during the Stars’ run.

*The Stars are averaging 27.0 shots per game and allowing 27.0 shots per game during the six-game run.

Petersen heads to Dallas for birth of daughter

Stars forward Toby Petersen headed back to Dallas to be with his wife, who was giving birth to the couple’s third child. Nola Petersen was born 4:29 p.m. on Saturday. The baby girl and mom are both doing fine. Petersen is expected to join the Stars for Tuesday’s game in Vancouver.

Quotable

“I think we’re gaining a little confidence, but I think what we’re learning to do is that it is going to take everybody to play hard every night to get the results we want. If you look, every night has been a little different on the stats sheet and who is contributing, but we’re getting strong play from everyone at each end of the ice, we’re getting good goaltending and it’s coming at a good time. We’re building some confidence and some momentum off what we’re doing right now, but we still have a long ways to go.”

Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray

Brenden Morrow resumes skating

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
12:49
PM CT
FRISCO, Texas -- Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who has missed the 14 games, with neck and back issues, resumed skating in Frisco on Thursday. It was the first time Morrow has been on the ice since he went out of the lineup in early February.

"Progressing pretty good," Morrow said after coming off the ice. "This is the first skate in about three weeks and so far no pain. I guess that’s a good sign."

Morrow hasn't played since Feb. 2 at San Jose. He's been doing off-ice work on the neck and back issues.

"It hasn’t been fun. It’s been a real strict core regimen to help stabilize the spine and try to relieve the stress on certain joints that I guess were causing me some problems," Morrow said. "It hasn’t been fun, but the guys have been playing well and that makes it a lot easier."

Morrow skated on his own Thursday at one end of the rink during the Stars' optional practice in Frisco. He also took part in a shootout drill at the end of practice. He said it's going to take some time before he's ready to play in a game.

"I am nowhere near game shape. It’s probably going to be a week or so before I am in any action," Morrow said. "It’s going to be skating and different movements that my body hasn’t been in and make sure I am not causing any pain and then we’ll start getting in some practices, getting bumped around a bit. I’ll take it slow at the beginning and then ramp it up before getting into a game."

Practice notes

*Besides Brenden Morrow, other players on the ice in Frisco on Thursday morning included Richard Bachman, Philip Larsen, Tom Wandell, Ryan Garbutt, Toby Petersen, Adam Pardy, Tomas Vincour and Jake Dowell.

*Morrow and Dowell (broken finger) will not travel with the team, and will continue to skate in Frisco.

*Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Kari Lehtonen will start in goal Friday against Edmonton.

Thursday update: Stars hoping to go on run

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
1:07
PM CT


Every game is big at this point of the season and the importance of Thursday's game isn’t lost on the Dallas Stars. A win will help them move them within to at least one point of eighth place and, if Calgary loses to Phoenix, the Stars would move into the top eight in the West.

“We look every single day to see what the Western Conference standings look like. We want to be a playoff team obviously and continue to build from there,” said Stars forward Steve Ott. “You look at even third place isn’t too far away. I know it’s stretching and not being completely realistic at this time, but it’s becoming a lot closer every single day. Hopefully we can find a way to continue to get points.”

Third place in the West is a stretch, but not totally out of reach. The Stars are five points behind San Jose, but the Sharks do have a couple games in hand.

But right now just getting into the playoff picture is the goal, and to do that and solidify a spot the Stars are going to have to do something they really haven’t done since the beginning of the season – put together a good run.

“If we can find a way to put three, four or above (wins) together that’s going to continue to a put pressure on a lot of other teams,” Ott said. “You’ve seen streaks already. Phoenix had a great streak they just put together and that’s why they are where they are right now. We need to find one. We need to find a way to string a few together and collect those valuable points at this crunch time of the season.”

Lineup notes

Sheldon Souray will be back after missing seven games with a foot injury and will be paired with Philip Larsen to start the game, according to Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. Adam Pardy will be the healthy scratch.

“The last three games he’s played real well,” Gulutzan said of Pardy. “It’s real good to have that depth on D, and we’ve got competition again. I think Pards have proved his worth coming back in here a little bit and got himself back on the map to play. Now we’ve got some competition for jobs.”

Adam Burish, who missed the last game due to illness, will be back in the lineup. He will play on the fourth line with Ryan Garbutt and Toby Petersen. Garbutt will play center, which is his natural position.

Matt Fraser, called up from the Texas Stars due to Jake Dowell breaking a finger, will be a healthy scratch.

Jamie Benn (leg) and Brenden Morrow (neck/shoulder) are still out.

Richard Bachman is in goal tonight.

Here’s the Stars’ projected lineup.

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

Goligoski-Robidas
Fistric-Daley
Souray-Larsen

Bachman

Lehtonen, Stars shut out Montreal, 3-0

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
7:16
PM CT


Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 shots for his second shutout of the season and 19th of his career as the Dallas Stars won 3-0 at Montreal Tuesday night. Ryan Garbutt scored his first career goal for the Stars, who moved to within two points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Mike Ribeiro and Tom Wandell also scored for the Stars, who won for just the second time in the last seven games (2-3-2).

First period

The Stars dominated the first period, outshooting the Canadiens 16-6 to six and scoring the period’s only goal.

The goal came at the 14:12 mark when Jake Dowell backhanded a puck from behind the net to Ryan Garbutt, who fired the puck past Montreal goalie Carey Price from the left circle for his first NHL goal.

Stars forward Adam Burish was a late scratch due to illness. Toby Petersen, who has been a scratch the last four games, moved into the lineup to take Burish’s place.

Second period

The Canadiens had three full power plays in the second and the fourth that had 49 seconds remaining when the period ended, but they couldn’t take advantage of any of them.

Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen made 14 saves in the period, including seven with the Stars shorthanded.

Steve Ott came close to extending the lead while the Stars were shorthanded a fourth time, hitting the post with a slap shot late in the second.

The Stars had 11 shots on in the second and had a 27-20 advantage through two periods.

Third period

The Stars killed off what was left of Montreal’s fourth power play to open the third period and then scored two goals in 37 seconds to take a commanding 3-0 lead.

Trevor Daley circled around the Montreal net and sent a cross-ice pass from the left circle to Mike Ribeiro, who ripped a one-timer past Price at the 4:32 mark to put the Stars up 2-0.

Moments later Price turned the puck over when he tried to pass the puck up the middle of the ice, and Tom Wandell scored from the slot at the 5:09 mark to give the Stars a 3-0 lead.

Lehtonen made 11 saves in the third, including nice ones on Lars Eller and Louis Leblanc to preserve his second shutout of the season.

The Stars lost center Jake Dowell in the period to an upper body injury.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Wandell-Vincour
Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak
Garbutt-Dowell-Petersen

Goligoski-Robidas
Fistric-Daley
Pardy-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Injured: Burish (illness), Souray (foot), Benn (leg), Morrow (neck/shoulder)
Scratched: None

Kari Lehtonen in goal tonight

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
4:15
PM CT
DALLAS -- Heading into this weekend's game, Glen Gulutzan said he was leaning towards playing Richard Bachman in today's game against Nashville. Once again, the Stars have reversed course and will go with Kari Lehtonen in a back-to-back situation.

Lehtonen will be making his ninth straight start and those starts have come over a 16-day span. Gulutzan was asked if there was any concern about overuse of Lehtonen considering the recent schedule.

"We monitor it, sure," Gulutzan said. "The team we're playing tonight, (backup Anders) Lindback has six starts I think. We're not going to worry about that too much. If he's ready to go we'll use him. If he's feeling good we'll use him. We have confidence in (Richard) Bachman as well, but if a goalie is telling you he feels good and feels fresh then we are certainly going to use him."

Gulutzan said there would be no lineup changes from last night, so Ryan Garbutt should be getting another game and Toby Petersen would be the lone healthy scratch for the Stars.

Turnover costly in Stars' OT loss

February, 18, 2012
2/18/12
11:52
PM CT


The turnover bug struck the Dallas Stars again Saturday night, and it cost them an important point in the Western Conference playoff race. Turnovers led to both Phoenix goals, including Radim Vrbata’s game-winner 1:15 into the overtime as the Stars lost 2-1 to the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.

“We played hard, but we need results,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “It’s a results based business and we need results. We need to capitalize and we can’t make a mistake at the end to give away a point.”

After Steve Ott won a defensive zone draw, Stars defenseman Mark Fistric lost the puck behind the Dallas net and Ray Whitney centered the puck to a wide open Vrbata, who got Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen to go down and then lifted the puck over him and into the net.

“Unforced,” Gulutzan said of the turnover. “Gave it away.”

The loss denied the Stars a second consecutive win, and left them with a 4-4-2 record since the All-Star break. The Stars fell five points behind the seventh-seeded Coyotes, but did pull to within three points of eighth place in the Western Conference.

The tough loss spoiled an outstanding effort from Lehtonen, who stopped 31 of 33 shots in the game including all 11 he faced on five Phoenix power plays.

“Both goaltenders were really good, really good,” said Gulutzan. “It was a good hockey game. It’s a shame it had to end that way.”

Phoenix goalie Mike Smith won his seventh straight game, but had his shutout streak snapped at 171 minutes and 26 seconds.

“We gave up too many chances, but Smitty cleaned those up,” said Tippett.

The Coyotes got the only goal of the first period. After an offensive zone turnover by Michael Ryder, the Coyotes had an odd-man rush the other way and Mikkel Boedker scored on a shot from the right circle at the 13:13 mark.

The Stars got the equalizer on the power play in the second period. The Stars had 1:16 of five-on-three time, but couldn’t cash in on the two-man advantage. But while on the remaining five-on-four, Ryder scored on the rebound of a Mike Ribeiro shot at 12:37 of the second.

The Coyotes, who improved to 7-0-1 over their last eight games, stayed within two points of sixth-seeded Chicago.

“Huge points for us tonight, huge points against a team chasing us in the standings,” said Coyotes Dave Tippett. “But we’ve got to find a way to make our game better than what it was tonight.”

For the Stars, they liked the effort but not the result.

“I think we played a really good game. The game could have gone either way,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas.” We had good chances, their goalie played well and they had some good chances and our goalie played well. Overall we’ve got to be pleased with our effort and the way we showed up.

“We would have liked to get the two points, but we’ve got a big game tomorrow night against Nashville at home. We’ve got to forget about this one and move on.”

Notes

*The Coyotes clinched the season series with the Stars by improving to 3-0-2 (8 points). The Stars are 2-2-1 (5 points). The teams will play one more time this season.

*The Stars lost in four-on-four overtime for the first time this season. They are now 3-1.

*The Stars were 1-5 on the power play and 5-5 on the penalty kill in the game.

*Ryan Garbutt made his NHL debut for the Stars. He played 5:41, had three shots on goal and three hits.

*Jamie Benn (leg), Sheldon Souray (foot) and Brenden Morrow (neck/shoulder) were out for Dallas.

*Toby Petersen was the lone healthy scratch for Dallas.

*The Coyotes lost centers Martin Hanzal and Kyle Chipchura during the game.

Jamie Benn out at least next two games

February, 17, 2012
2/17/12
1:44
PM CT
FRISCO -- Stars forward Jamie Benn will be out at least the next two games after being cut on the leg with a skate in Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center.

Benn was at the Stars practice facility on Friday, walking around on crutches.

“It’s a little unlucky, but lucky at the same time. It didn’t damage it too bad. I am going to get back on rehab here and I hope to be back soon,” Benn said.

Benn was injured in the second period of Thursday’s game when Flame’s defenseman Mark Giordano’s skate caught Benn in the left thigh.

“I just went to go hit the guy, he kept the puck in, I kind of fell and his skate cut the back of my leg. It was a little bit of a freak accident,” Benn said. “You just hope it’s not too bad. It was bleeding pretty good there right when it happened. I tried to hobble off pretty quick and the doctors did a good job of stitching me up.”

Benn said he received around 13 stitches to close the injury.

As for his status, Benn replied: “Day-to-day. We’ll just see how it goes.”

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Benn will miss Saturday’s game at Phoenix and then Sunday’s game against Nashville at the AAC. The hope is could be ready after that.

“We’re hoping on Tuesday (at Montreal). He’s got a significant cut on his leg,” Gulutzan said. “Thank goodness nothing else was involved, just a deep significant, painful cut. We’re glad nothing else happened for sure, but he’ll be a day-to-day guy until that heals up.”

Notes

*Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Kari Lehtonen would start in goal Saturday against Phoenix. He also said that Richard Bachman would likely play this weekend, so it appears that Bachman could be the starter for Sunday’s game against Nashville.

*Ryan Garbutt, who was called up from the Texas Stars Friday morning, was one of seven players who took part in an optional practice in Frisco. Gulutzan said there is a possibility Garbutt could play this weekend.

*Others players who skated today were Loui Eriksson, Philip Larsen, Tomas Vincour, Adam Pardy, Toby Petersen and Bachman.
As far as regular season games go, tonight’s Stars-Red Wings game in Detroit has some special meaning. The Red Wings are going for an NHL-record 21st consecutive home win. The significance of the game isn’t lost on Stars forward Steve Ott.

“Love is in the air. It’s Valentine’s Day. They have a chance to do something very special over there and we have a chance to knock them off,” Ott said. “For us, it probably amps up the game a little bit more in an 82-game regular season. It’s more of a playoff type format, rather just a regular old regular season game.”

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said it’s a good challenge for his team, and an opportunity.

“It’s real good for us. It puts us in a position where we need to come and play at the top of our game and try to do something the last 20 teams haven’t been able to do,” Gulutzan said. “If we come and play our game and have some success, it will be a great boost for us.”

Jake Dowell will be in the Dallas lineup tonight and Toby Petersen will be the scratch at forward. Sheldon Souray is still out, so it will be the same six on defense and Adam Pardy will be a scratch.

Kari Lehtonen is in goal for the Stars. Joey MacDonald will get the start for the Red Wings.

Here’s the Stars’ projected lineup:

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

Goligoski-Robidas
Grossman-Daley
Fistric-Larsen

Lehtonen

Tuesday skate: 'This is a big game for us'

February, 7, 2012
2/07/12
11:40
AM CT
DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars have a key game tonight as they take on the Phoenix Coyotes, a team they are battling in the Western Conference playoff race. The Stars and Coyotes are deadlocked at 56 points, two points behind eighth-seeded Minnesota.

"Every game is important for us, but some have different meanings. This is a team we're tied with. This is direct competition. This is a team that wants what we want," said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. "This is a big game for us. They played last night. We're fresh. This is a real big game for us."

The Coyotes are coming off a 3-1 win over Detroit Monday night. They beat San Jose 5-3 Saturday as well. Those are two big wins, but this will be their third game in four days, including their second in two days.

The Stars, by the way, haven't fared all that well when playing teams that are in on the second game of a back-to-back set. The Stars are 3-4-1 in those games, according to the team's PR staff.

As for the Stars lineup, Toby Petersen will be back in after being a healthy scratch the last four games. Based on the lines in this morning's skate, it looks like Jake Dowell could be the odd man out among the forwards.

Kari Lehtonen in goal.

Here's the projected lineup for tonight.

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

Souray-Robidas
Grossman-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen

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