Stars-Blue Jackets Preview

The Dallas Stars are hoping to put a poor performance behind

them as they begin a road trip against two of the NHL’s worst

teams.

They open the two-game swing Thursday night against a Columbus

Blue Jackets club looking for its first three-game win streak of

the season.

Dallas (27-23-2) is two points out of the eighth playoff spot in

the Western Conference. The Stars missed a chance to move into

playoff position Tuesday, losing 4-1 to Phoenix.

“I think it might be all right to get on the road and try to get

going,” coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We’re making it tough on

ourselves. We could have been in eighth spot tonight.”

The Stars have split four games since the All-Star break, and

Tuesday’s effort was the first one in that span in which they

outshot their opponent.

“Awful, atrocious. I don’t know,” defenseman Sheldon Souray

said. “We’ve gotten by on a really good goaltender our last three

or four games and it’s just not good enough. We can talk about it

and try to figure it out and point fingers, but really as a whole,

we’ve really been letting ourselves down, especially as important

as this stretch of games is and what it means.”

Dallas will play on consecutive nights against league-worst

Columbus (15-32-6) and Buffalo before returning home.

“We got a two-game road trip coming up right now which is pretty

huge and we gotta make sure we come back here with some points,”

right wing Michael Ryder said.

The Blue Jackets have won back-to-back games for the second time

this season, defeating Minnesota 3-1 on Tuesday. Rookie David

Savard had a goal and an assist.

Columbus’ two wins have come on the heels of a 3-2 defeat in Los

Angeles last Wednesday, a solid effort that ended in controversial

fashion when an apparent clock error led to a goal allowed with one

second left.

“I think the last nine periods now, we aren’t perfect, we make

our mistakes,” interim coach Todd Richards said. “But the hard work

usually makes up for those mistakes. We got players now that are

committed to having each other’s back.”

Jeff Carter scored in his second straight game since returning

after missing 10 games with a separated shoulder. Thirteen of his

19 points have come at home.

“He’s been playing very well for us,” Richards said. “What I’m

impressed with is how he’s moving up and down the ice.”

Curtis Sanford has recorded the last two victories for Columbus.

He’s 4-1-1 with a 3.22 goals-against average in seven career starts

against the Stars, last facing them in 2008.

Kari Lehtonen, who has started six of the Stars’ last seven

games, is 4-3-1 with a 1.75 GAA against Columbus. He has started

all three meetings this season, with Dallas winning two.

Neither team’s power play has been solid, with the Stars at 14.6

percent and the Blue Jackets at 14.5. Dallas, though, is 3 for 11

since the break.

Columbus’ penalty kill continues to rank as the NHL’s worst at

75.7 percent, allowing nine goals in the last 28 chances.