Even though the calendar just flipped over to February, teams in the race for the NHL wild card spots are still trying to avoid that dreaded losing streak. It’s something which can play a factor and do some damage in the long run. The Stars find themselves in that position.
They take the ice Thursday night on a two-game losing streak after winning 10 of their previous 13 games. Granted that’s not too terrible of a deal but things can snowball in a hurry in the NHL.
“That’s two games in a row,” said Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock after Tuesday’s 3-0 home loss to the Los Angeles Kings. “That’s the concern for us. The game before the break a team came in and checked us hard and we had no response and today the same thing. We’re cheating all over the ice and not competing on pucks. You can beat it to death but the bigger concern is that it’s two games in a row. When you expect it to go up, and the league is going to go up now, we go the other way.”
The good news is they face the Coyotes in Arizona, a team that has struggled all season at 12-29-9. The Coyotes are also just 6-15-3 on home ice. Meanwhile, Dallas is 28-19-4 overall and 11-11-3 on the road.
The Stars currently have the top wild card spot in the Western Conference by just one point over the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks. The Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames are two points behind the Stars. Interesting enough, former Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan is also the head coach of the Flames.
But wait- there’s more good news for the Stars going into this one. They’ve won the previous two games this season against the Coyotes with the most recent one being a 5-4 win at Gila River Arena in October. Tyler Seguin scored two-third period goals to help stave off a Coyotes comeback.
Goalie Kari Lehtonen will man the pipes for the Stars on Thursday, making just his 13th start of the season. He’s 5-2 with his last seven stars happening on the road. Lehtonen is 14-4-4 with a 2.05 goals-against average against the Coyotes.
The puck drops at 8 p.m. in Phoenix.
History for Hamhuis
Defenseman Dan Hamhuis became the 318th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 regular season games played list when he stepped onto the ice against the Kings earlier this week in Dallas. The 35-year old is also the 106th defenseman to reach the milestone. Hamhuis has appeared in 128 games in his second season with the Stars. He’s also played for the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators.
“It’s something I’m quite proud of, but I certainly didn’t get here on my own,” Hamhuis said. “Getting to that first NHL game was, in large part, due to my parents and the sacrifices that they made to get me to game one. And then it took a whole team of people to get me from game one to a thousand. You go through a lot to get to a spot like this, but it’s been an incredible journey to meet so many great people along the way. It certainly has been a group effort.”
His achievement will be recognized prior to the Stars game against the New York Rangers on Feb. 5 with a pre-game ceremony.