Clinging to a narrow lead in the Central Division, the Dallas Stars will look to get back into the win column when they host the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.
The Stars have just one win (1-3-3) in their past seven games and three in their past 12 (3-3-6). While Dallas has still been banking single points from all the overtime losses, the Stars have been hampered by their lackluster 5-13 record in games that have extended past regulation.
Dallas again fell short in overtime on Monday, dropping a 5-4 home result to the Vancouver Canucks. Although the Canucks scored five goals on only 21 shots against Jake Oettinger, Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa blamed his team’s “miscues” rather than his goaltender’s performance.
“We’ve got to be way better for (Oettinger). He’s been unreal for us the whole year,” Hakanpaa said. “We’ve just got to help him out better, just protect that middle (of the ice) much more than what we did today. It’s a little positioning, communication.”
More offensive support also is required, as the Stars have scored just 14 non-shootout goals in their past seven games. A struggling power play is partially to blame, since Dallas has just two goals in its past 31 chances with the extra attacker in its past nine games.
Since the Stars face the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, Oettinger might not be the choice in net against Arizona. Oettinger and Scott Wedgewood likely will split the back-to-back games in some order.
The Coyotes are on the other end of a back-to-back involving Chicago, as Arizona recorded a 4-1 win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday. The Coyotes limited the Blackhawks to 24 shots, matching Arizona’s season low for shots allowed in a game.
While it would take nothing short of a miracle finish for the Coyotes to reach the playoffs, the team quietly has amassed a solid 6-2-4 record in its past 12 games. The Coyotes also play 15 of their final 22 games on home ice, providing more opportunity for a respectable ending to the season.
With the NHL trade deadline looming on Friday, however, most of the focus has been on which Coyotes players might be heading elsewhere. Forward Nick Bjugstad and defenseman Jakob Chychrun weren’t in Tuesday’s lineup in advance of possible deals, with Chychrun missing his eighth straight game.
There even has been some trade speculation surrounding Arizona’s hottest player, although Nick Schmaltz played Tuesday and collected a goal and an assist. Schmaltz is on a four-game goal streak, and has 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in his past 14 games.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said the “stress” of the trade deadline impacts everyone in the organization. He also added “that’s part of the business and we’re professionals. We need to deal with it and we need to move forward.”
Since Karel Vejmelka faced the Blackhawks, Connor Ingram already has been announced as the starting goaltender against Dallas. Ingram is 2-1-3 with a .939 save percentage in his past six games.
Stars captain Jamie Benn has tallied two points in each of his past three games (two goals, four assists).
Dallas recorded lopsided wins in both meetings against Arizona this season (7-2 on Nov. 3, 4-0 on Jan. 21). Dating back to the 2011-12 season, the Stars are a dominant 15-0-1 in home games against the Coyotes.
–Field Level Media