Stars-Thrashers Preview

The Dallas Stars came away with four points from the first three

stops along their five-game road trip, but they’d prefer to avoid

returning home with nothing to show from their last two.

A loss to the NHL’s worst team has made that a possibility,

though the Stars will have a quick chance to bounce back in the

finale of their trip Thursday night against the Atlanta


Dallas (14-9-10) had gone past regulation in all three games of

its road trip heading to Carolina on Wednesday, losing twice but

coming away with an impressive 3-2 shootout win in San Jose on


The Stars lost by the same score in a shootout in Los Angeles

one night later, then looked flat across the country in their first

game in four days against the woeful Hurricanes. Carolina jumped

out to a 3-0 lead, and while Dallas twice pulled to within a goal

it couldn’t get any closer in a 5-3 loss.

While the Stars have earned points in five of their last six

games, they only have two wins in their last seven.

“We have no consistency,” said Brenden Morrow, who snapped a

four-game goal drought by scoring on a power play in the second

period. “We’d love to get a little streak going here. We still have

six or seven games in December to turn it around.”

Dallas has consistently beaten Atlanta (17-12-3) since the

Thrashers entered the league 10 years ago, going 10-1-0 overall and

5-0-0 at Philips Arena, which it hasn’t visited since 2006.

Stars forwards Jere Lehtinen and Steve Ott scored when Atlanta

visited Dallas on Jan. 27, a 2-0 win that was Marty Turco’s 35th

career shutout. Turco is 6-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA against Atlanta.

The Thrashers have scored more goals per game (3.09) this season

than every team in the Eastern Conference other than Washington and

Pittsburgh. But while the Capitals and Penguins find themselves

atop the conference, Atlanta is tied for seventh after a 4-3 loss

to Florida on Wednesday.

The Panthers scored the game’s first three goals before the

Thrashers rallied to tie it with a goal late in the second and two

more early in the third. Michael Frolik, however, gave Florida the

win by scoring with 1:21 left.

Despite the loss, Atlanta added to its NHL-high 43 goals in the

final 20 minutes.

“For some reason, our third period is the best this year,” said

Slava Kozlov, who tied the game 6:27 into the third. “We’ve come

back (in some games) to win in the third. So far we’re not in the

playoff zone, and we’re trying to make some points.”

It’s no surprise that the Thrashers are in the midst of a 3-5-0

stretch considering they haven’t gotten a goal from Maxim

Afinogenov. Eight of Afinogenov’s 11 goals have come in the third

period – tying him for second in the league – and Atlanta is 7-3-0

when he scores and 13-6-1 when he records a point.

Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads the Thrashers with 18 goals, had one

Wednesday, but the loss dropped Atlanta to 9-3-1 when he finds the

back of the net. Kovalchuk has never scored a goal in eight games

against Dallas.