Jason Demers
Canucks-Stars Preview
Jason Demers

Canucks-Stars Preview

Published Nov. 26, 2015 4:23 p.m. ET

Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff is thankful that he has two capable goaltenders now that Kari Lehtonen is hurt.

The Stars will likely start Antti Niemi on Friday night when they host a Vancouver Canucks club that has dropped eight straight in this series.

Lehtonen entered in relief of Niemi in Tuesday's 7-4 defeat to Ottawa that ended the Stars' five-game win streak. He suffered an upper-body injury that night and was placed on injured reserve Thursday. It's unclear how long Lehtonen will be sidelined.

Dallas (17-5-0) is starting a back-to-back set with a trip to Minnesota on Saturday, and the club called up goaltender Jack Campbell from the AHL on Thursday. Campbell was a first-round pick in 2010 but made his only NHL appearance in October 2013.


"Every team gets challenged with injuries and here is our first challenge," Ruff told the Stars' official website. "We've got to rise to the occasion. Everybody's opportunity usually comes at somebody's expense, and now it is a bigger opportunity for somebody."

Niemi has started 12 games and Lehtonen 10. Niemi made 29 saves the last time these teams met as Dallas won 4-3 on Jamie Benn's overtime goal Oct. 29.

That extended the Canucks' misery in the series to eight straight meetings (0-6-2). Dallas has outscored Vancouver 33-13 in that streak.

Benn is the NHL's top goal scorer with 16 and is enjoying a six-game point streak during which he has six goals - all at home - and five assists. The winger has scored twice in consecutive games, and he's totaled seven goals in his last nine meetings with Vancouver along with six assists.

His 32 points rank second in the NHL, and teammate Tyler Seguin is third with 31 while also riding a six-game point streak. Vancouver's Daniel Sedin is fourth with 25.

Dallas is averaging 3.55 goals for the league's second-best mark. The Stars are only tied for 13th with 2.59 allowed per game after conceding a season high Tuesday.

Ruff's Western Conference-leading club has yet to lose two straight and has won all four games against Pacific Division foes.

"We've been doing so well, and we've been able to answer every loss with playing a strong game afterward, that I have all the confidence that we just reset and go at it," he said.

Defenseman Jason Demers, who scored in the last meeting with Vancouver, will return from a one-game absence with a lower-body injury.

Vancouver (9-8-6) has received 47 points from the Sedins. The brothers and Jannik Hansen had 13 of the Canucks' 21 goals in a seven-game stretch before Wednesday's 3-2 victory at Minnesota in which Radim Vrbata scored twice.

Vrbata has scored three goals in two games after a nine-game drought and has six goals this season after recording 31 last season.

"It was frustrating," he said. "I don't know if one game will change it, but hopefully this is the start of something good now."

The Canucks figure to go with Ryan Miller, tied for the league lead with 19 starts. Miller is 0-4-2 with a 4.25 goals-against average in his last six against Dallas.

Vancouver ended an 0-3-1 road slide Wednesday. The club was planning to spend Thanksgiving in Dallas at the Cowboys-Panthers NFL game.

"It might be good for us to get out and forget about hockey a little bit and then be ready for the game in Dallas," coach Willie Desjardins said.


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