National Hockey League
Stars-Thrashers Preview
National Hockey League

Stars-Thrashers Preview

Published Dec. 17, 2009 7:35 p.m. ET

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 Thrashers.

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 Friday.

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.


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