At a glance: The New York Rangers kick off a five-game road trip in Dallas on Thursday night looking to halt a two-game skid and get back to .500 with a win over the Dallas Stars. The Rangers’ meager offense has been the team’s undoing recently with only four goals in the past four games. It’s not for lack of effort though as the Rangers registered 80 shots on goal over the last two games. Meanwhile, Dallas has rattled off three straight wins as they try to climb back into the playoff picture in the uber-competitive Western Conference.
Familiar face: Veteran center Brad Richards returns to Dallas to face his former club for the first time since signing with the Rangers as an unrestricted free agent in July 2011. The 33-year-old Richards, who spent three-plus with the Stars, is leading the team in scoring with six goals and 16 points through 21 games.
Strength in net: Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen has been a big reason for Dallas’ recent success with his stingy performances between the pipes with a 1.33 goals against average in his last three starts. Lehtonen has struggled at home lately, though, and hopes to turn that around Thursday night.
Back at it: Michael Del Zotto returns to the Rangers' lineup after sitting the last three as a healthy scratch. The 23-year-old defenseman, who has seemingly failed to meet coach Alain Vigneault’s approval, has been unable to earn a consistent spot in the lineup each night. The former first-round pick has thus created plenty of trade speculation and rumors as teams have reportedly been sniffing around on the young blue-liner.
Player to watch: Rangers forward Rick Nash played for the first time Tuesday after a 17-game absence due to a concussion sustained last month. The star winger was held off the scoresheet but registered five shots on goal and played over 17 minutes in his return to action. Skating on a line with Richards and captain Ryan Callahan, Nash is hoping to give the Rangers offense a much-needed jolt.