BLACKHAWKS (28-22-4) at STARS (30-18-6)
TV: CSN-CH (HD), FS-SW (HD)
Marty Turco returns to Dallas Friday night for the first time since he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks in the offseason. Turco was drafted by Dallas and is the Stars’ all-time leader in games, wins and shutouts. The Stars and Blackhawks split the two previous meetings in Chicago but Turco is expected to make his first start against his former team in Friday night’s matchup.
“When you get to play against a friend and compete against a friend on a different level it definitely makes it exciting,” Stars forward Steve Ott said. “Like a brotherly rivalry, you always want to beat your brother or your friend. I know he's going be pumped and pretty amped up, so we're going to have to show our 'A' game because he is definitely going to want to be a spoiler.”
The Stars are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Phoenix that pushed their current losing streak to four games since the All-Star break. The club was able to earn a point against the Coyotes to retain the lead in the Pacific Division over San Jose via tie-breaker (San Jose has played one more game than Dallas). “We’ve got to stay positive, stay together, keep plugging away and find a way to win here,” Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman said following last night’s contest. “We can’t start hanging our heads now. We’ve got to stay positive and keep working.”
| • News
• Ticket Info
Only a few hundred tickets remain for Friday night’s game, call (214) GO-STARS or click here to buy tickets.
Last 10: Chicago 5-4-1; Dallas 4-5-1
Season series: Chicago and Dallas have split two meetings this season, with the Stars taking their last showdown 4-2 on Jan. 5 at the United Center.
Big story: With the postseason race getting even tighter from all quarters, both Chicago and Dallas find themselves stuck in a playoff scramble that could leave both of them outside the West's top eight just as easily as inside. As the season hits the home stretch, Friday's game in Dallas will have two crucial points on the line for each side.
Blackhawks: After stumbling in recent weeks, the defending champs find themselves three points behind Calgary for the final playoff spot in the West. That situation wasn't helped by two straight losses on their current six-game road trip -- including one to the Flames on Monday night -- but Chicago may have stemmed the tide with a win Wednesday night in Edmonton. The Hawks topped the Oilers 4-1 thanks in part to two goals from Patrick Kane and a 23-save performance from goalie Corey Crawford, but there is still plenty of work yet to do.
For the mercurial Crawford, who appeared to be a revelation earlier this season before a recent slump, the win was his first in four starts. Crawford's spot as the starter doesn't appear to be in jeopardy yet, but with Chicago wrapping up its road trip Saturday in Phoenix, it's entirely possible that Marty Turco will get the call Friday to alleviate the strain on Crawford that comes with back-to-back games. Regardless of who is in net, Friday's visit to Dallas looms large as the clock begins to tick on Chicago's postseason hopes.
Stars: Earlier this season, Dallas was considered one of the surprising division leaders as it stockpiled points in the Pacific Division. While the Stars are still leading the pack out west, that lead has steadily dissipated to just a single point, with the Sharks impatiently nipping at their heels. For this the Stars can thank a four-game losing streak that has put a serious dent in the division-title hopes, but of even greater concern is that the Pacific, and the West, are so tight Dallas could easily fall out of the playoff picture altogether.
All five teams in the Pacific still have a very realistic shot at winning the crown, and with fifth-place L.A. knocking on the door of the top eight, a hastened tumble to the cellar is hardly out of the question for Dallas. To reverse the trend, the Stars will need to get better play between the pipes. Starter Kari Lehtonen has lost four straight appearances, giving up 13 goals in the process. The goaltending isn't the only issue, either. In those four games, the Stars scored just seven times.
Who's hot: Jonathan Toews has continued to lead by example for the Hawks, tallying 10 points over his current five-game point streak. … Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson have both contributed lately, with each tallying 4 points in the last four games.
Injury report: Marian Hossa is questionable for Chicago with an upper-body injury, while Dallas is likely to be without Raymond Sawada, who is considered questionable with a broken nose and a shoulder injury.
Puck drop: Both Chicago and Dallas have 28 games remaining to get themselves into secure playoff position, and while that may seem like a large number, the jam-packed Western Conference leaves little room for error on a day-to-day basis. Every game matters for the Hawks and Stars from here on out, and Friday night is no exception.