The Dallas Stars have a chance to jump into the final Western Conference postseason spot if they can end their recent road woes.
The Chicago Blackhawks will try to add to those struggles while bolstering their chances of claiming home-ice advantage for the opening round of the playoffs. They could get some help in that pursuit with one of their top prospects likely making his NHL debut Tuesday night.
Chasing its first postseason berth since 2008, Dallas (34-26-11) has moved within one point of eighth-place Phoenix in the West after back-to-back wins. The Stars snapped an 0-3-1 skid with a 3-1 victory against Ottawa on Saturday, then edged Winnipeg 2-1 on Monday to wrap up a brief homestand.
Ray Whitney and Tyler Seguin scored power-play goals while Kari Lehtonen made 32 saves in his third start since returning from a concussion.
"We’re just trying to find a way to win games," Seguin said. "We had a tough stretch there a few games ago. We just want to walk away every night being the most competitive team.
"We’ve got to move on quickly. I don’t think anyone wants to get too high from winning this game. We’ve got to get ready for one of the best teams in the NHL (on Tuesday).
The Stars can move past Phoenix with a win in Chicago on Tuesday and a Coyotes loss in Pittsburgh earlier in the evening. Dallas, however, heads into the United Center having dropped three straight on the road.
The Stars have been outscored 16-5 in those games and now face the NHL’s highest-scoring team.
The Blackhawks, though, have been offensively inconsistent for much of the last two months and were shut out 2-0 by visiting Nashville on Sunday after registering a combined seven goals in back-to-back wins.
Chicago (41-16-15) has scored two goals or fewer in 12 of its last 20 games, but four or more in seven of the other eight. A lower-body injury to playmaking winger Patrick Kane hasn’t helped, but the Blackhawks are hoping Teuvo Teravainen can make up for some of that production.
The Finnish forward and 18th overall draft pick in the 2012 draft was called up from the minors Friday.
"I hope I can help," the 19-year-old Teravainen said. "Of course, there are big expectations and pressure, but I don’t think of those too much. I’m just a player and a young kid coming here. I think everything I do here is a bonus. I’m just trying to have fun."
The Blackhawks are three points ahead of Colorado for second in the Central Division, and the Avalanche are visiting Nashville on Tuesday night.
Chicago will try at least to maintain its lead over the Avalanche by extending their mastery of the Stars. The Blackhawks have won seven of eight over Dallas but fell 4-3 in the only other meeting at the United Center this season on Dec. 3.
The Stars blew a 3-0 lead in that game before Antoine Roussel converted the tiebreaking penalty shot in the third period. The Blackhawks blew out Dallas 6-2 one week later with Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad scoring two goals apiece.
Sharp has eight goals and seven assists in his last eight games against the Stars, and a team-best eight points in this season’s series (four goals, four assists).
Roussel has three goals and 23 penalty minutes against Chicago this season, his highest totals in both categories versus any opponent. Erik Cole will not play due to an upper-body injury.