Red Wings-Stars Preview

Jimmy Howard is playing so well that he’s making it difficult

for coach Mike Babcock to determine when to rest him.

It appears likely Howard will get the chance to add to his

NHL-leading 23 victories Tuesday night when the Detroit Red Wings

open a four-game road trip by facing the Dallas Stars.

Howard made 31 saves for his fourth shutout of the season

Saturday in a 3-0 home win over St. Louis. He outdueled the Blues’

Brian Elliott for the second time in five days in a matchup of the

two goalies with the Western Conference’s lowest goals-against

averages.

“Every night you want to get up and play your best against the

goalie at the other end,” Howard told the Red Wings’ official

website. “I think it’s more along the lines that we need the

points. We can’t sit back and rest on anything. We need to continue

to get points.”

Howard started 13 of 15 games in December. Although Babcock has

stated a desire to give his top goalie some time off, it’s been

hard to leave him out.

“I haven’t rested him at all (recently), so I don’t know what

I’m going to do,” Babcock said.

While Detroit (24-13-1) has won 12 straight at home, it has lost

six of nine on the road heading into this trip.

“You want to be real good at home,” Babcock said. “We’d like to

improve our road record here, and we’re going to have an ample

opportunity to do that.”

Dallas (21-15-1) is seeking to close a three-game homestand on a

positive note. The Stars opened it with a stunning 4-1 loss

Thursday to lowly Columbus before beating Boston 4-2 two days

later.

“I think it’s huge for us … It was a good rebound game,”

forward Jamie Benn said.

Kari Lehtonen made 18 saves Saturday in his second start since

missing a month with a groin injury, getting his first victory

since Nov. 23.

Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder each scored on the power play as

Dallas ended a four-game, 0-for-11 drought with the man advantage.

Trevor Daley added a goal and two assists and Benn also had two

assists.

“We kept it a little more simple, we took the chances that we

had, we moved the puck fast,” Ryder said. “We didn’t wait for

something to happen. We moved the puck, we made them move.”

Beating the defending Stanley Cup champions has given the Stars

a much-needed boost of confidence.

“For us moving forward, we’ve gotta look up,” coach Glen

Gulutzan said. “We can’t look down and sideways, we’ll trip and

fall.”

The Red Wings have dropped three of four in Dallas over the past

two seasons, but they beat the Stars 5-2 at home on Nov. 12 by

scoring three third-period goals to break a tie.

Howard made 25 saves to improve to 3-4-1 with a 2.37 GAA in

eight starts versus Dallas.

Lehtonen was rested in that contest. He’s 3-3-0 with a 3.18

career GAA against the Red Wings.