Stars hope to carry momentum against Islanders (Mar 02, 2017)

DALLAS — After defeating the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night at American Airlines Center in rather improbable fashion, the Dallas Stars look to carry those good vibes forward in a home game against the New York Islanders Thursday.

Dallas (25-28-10) has been good at home for much of the season, going 18-10-6 in its building, but Tuesday’s 3-2 victory was impressive considering the Penguins led 2-0 after two periods only to see Dallas score three unanswered goals to prevail. It was Pittsburgh’s first loss of the season when leading after 40 minutes, while the Stars won for only the second time when trailing after two periods.

And the Stars, now seven points behind St. Louis for the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference, could get an additional boost from the potential season debut of Ales Hemsky.

Hemsky has missed the entire season due to hip surgery, but the veteran forward has been cleared to play and could return against the Islanders.

“It’s been a long journey, but I guess I’m ahead of schedule, feel pretty good,” Hemsky said after practice Wednesday. “We’ll see tomorrow what will happen, if they put me in or not.”

The other story surrounding Stars was whether they would make additional moves prior to Wednesday afternoon’s NHL trade deadline. Dallas had already dealt veteran forward Patrick Eaves to Anaheim last Friday, sent defenseman Jordie Benn to Montreal on Monday and dealt fellow defenseman Johnny Oduya to Chicago prior to Tuesday’s game.

The Stars made one more deal on Wednesday, sending veteran forward Lauri Korpikoski to Columbus. But Dallas did not trade fellow forward Patrick Sharp because he is going to need season-ending surgery at some point down the stretch.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff has experienced countless trade deadlines both as a player and as a coach. He hates to lose veterans like Benn, Eaves, Korpikoski and Oduya, but he also sees these trades as important because of the opportunities they provide other players with to see the ice more.

“Again, you take every game one game at a time. When a piece goes out, it’s another player’s opportunity and I think that opportunity is something that a lot of times a player will take advantage of,” Ruff said. “He’s going to get a little bigger ice time, a little better ice time, maybe special teams ice time. And I think sometimes other players will flourish in the absence of some of the pieces you take out.”

But one subject Ruff would rather not discuss is the Stars’ trip to Barclays Center on January 19, a game Dallas dropped 3-0 to the Islanders.

One thing that loss showed Ruff and the Stars is just what a tough foe the Islanders, who are currently one game out for the second-wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, can be.

“We know what they bring,” Ruff said. “Offensively, they can be very dangerous. This is another big game for us. We can close the gap again. It’s important we play the game the right way. We didn’t play the game the right way in the Island (on January 17), that’s why we lost. We have to hold ourselves accountable for that and I think we’re getting better at playing the game the right way.”

New York (29-22-10) hasn’t played since losing 7-0 at Columbus on Saturday, so the Islanders figure to be well-rested.

The Islanders are 9-14-4 on the road but are 6-4-0 over their last 10 games.

New York didn’t make any trades on deadline day, but they did make one notable personnel move on Wednesday, recalling forward Joshua Ho-Sang, the 28th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, from AHL Bridgeport Sound.

Ho-Sang, 21, who had 26 assists and 36 points in 48 AHL games, is expected to make his NHL debut in Dallas.

“It’s been my dream to be here and to get on the ice. It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to playing,” Ho-Sang said after practice in Dallas on Wednesday.

The Islanders are currently 2-1-0 through the first three games of their nine-game road trip. New York, who is 11-2-3 against the West and 5-2-1 against the Central Division, will play back-to-back games against Central foes, at Dallas on Thursday and at Chicago on Friday.