(Sports Network) - Not only are the Dallas Stars set to debut a new face on
Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers, but they are also likely to have
their No. 1 goaltender back in action for the first time in two weeks.
The Stars look to get a boost from netminder Kari Lehtonen and winger Erik
Cole as they shoot for a seventh straight win over the Oilers.
Cole was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday in exchange for
forward Michael Ryder and a third-round pick in the 2013 draft. Not long after
the deal, Dallas gutted out a 5-4 overtime win against the Columbus Blue
Jackets, improving to 2-0-1 in its past three.
Dallas gave up the game-tying goal with 1:34 left in the third, but Loui
Eriksson put home his sixth goal of the season with 1:57 to play in the extra
session. Richard Bachman made 16 stops in the win.
The Stars rank 14th in the NHL with 2.75 goals per game and will look to Cole
for a boost. The 34-year-old notched a career-high 35 goals with 61 points in
82 games with Montreal last season and had six points through 19 games this
"He's a big, strong guy who likes to go to the net, plays hard," said Stars
coach Glen Gulutzan of Cole. "He gives us size and speed and strength, so that
will be a nice acquisition for us."
Gulutzan should also be happy to have Lehtonen back after his 29-year-old
netminder missed the past five games with a groin injury suffered during a
Feb. 15 outing against the Vancouver Canucks.
Lehtonen was off to a great start, going 7-2-1 with a 2.12 goals against
average and .934 save percentage in 12 games.
"Everything started well. Of course, I didn't want to get hurt but that
happened and I just have to find my game again and hopefully I can continue
kind of where I left off. That's what I'm trying to do," said Lehtonen, who is
9-2-0 with a 2.00 GAA in 11 lifetime starts versus the Oilers.
Lehtonen has already backstopped the Stars to a pair of wins over the Oilers
in Edmonton this season, stopping 62-of-65 shots faced. The Stars have won 11
of the last 12 meetings in this series overall.
Edmonton will make the second stop of its nine-game road trip looking to find
some success in Dallas. The Oilers have dropped five straight on the road in
this series and have picked up just four victories in their last 31 trips to
The Oilers began their road trip with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago
Blackhawks, who extended their NHL-record season-opening point streak to 19
Jeff Petry had a short-handed goal and rookie Nail Yakupov scored on the power
play to put the Oilers ahead at the 14:17 mark of the second period. Nikolai
Khabibulin stopped 31-of-34 shots in defeat, Edmonton's third in four games.
"Big picture, it's an excellent point against the strongest team in the
National Hockey League right now," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "Of course
you feel pain, having the lead going into the third period. It's definitely
something you dream and believe you can close it, but they really are an
amazingly powerful team. They're very, very strong on the puck. They never let
up at all."
While the Stars are getting two fresh faces into their lineup, the Oilers will
have forward Taylor Hall available for the first time in three games after he
served a two-game ban for an illegal hit in last Thursday's loss to the
Hall has three goals and 16 points in 16 games this season and will likely
skate on the top line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle in this game.
Devan Dubnyk, who is 5-5-3 with a 2.78 GAA this season, will make first start
since Feb. 21 as Khabibulin was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with an
Dubnyk has never beaten the Stars, going 0-4-1 with a 4.01 GAA in five starts,
giving up seven goals on 57 shots in the two meetings this season.
The Sports Network