The Dallas Stars (38-26-7) are in town today, as the Ottawa Senators (25-33-11) will look to win their third game in a row for the first time since the second week of the season. Dallas is hanging on to the West’s second wild card spot by the skin of their teeth, whereas the Sens are inching closer to mathematical elimination.
Mark Stone is still out injured, and the defence looks to be staying the same with Claesson back in the lineup. The Stars will be regaining Ben Bishop from injury, with Craig Anderson getting the nod in net for Ottawa.
Here are tonight’s expected combos:
Dzingel – Duchene – Hoffman
Ryan – Pageau – Burrows
Paajarvi – Smith – Pyatt
McCormick – O’Brien – Gaborik
Chabot – Karlsson
Harpur – Ceci
Borowiecki – Claesson
What would be a Sens-Stars game without mentioning Jason Spezza? Age is starting to catch up to him, as his current pace of eight goals and 29 points would be the lowest since his rookie season, where he spent half the time in the AHL. He’s currently centering their fourth line.
Ben Bishop returns to the Stars’ crease, with his last game being on March 5th — also against the Sens when he was injured mid-game. Ottawa won that contest 3-2 in OT.
Marc Methot was expected to make his return to Ottawa tonight, although was recently sidelined with a hand injury (the same hand that was slashed by Crosby). Julius Honka takes his place.
The defensive scoring race is heating up, with a group of players catching up to John Klingberg for the lead. Erik Karlsson is a part of that group, with four less points and a game in hand. In terms of points per game, Karlsson ranks second league-wide behind Colorado’s Tyson Barrie.
The Stars haven’t been as much of an offensive threat as they’ve been in the past, but their top line of Benn-Seguin-Radulov has been unstoppable. Since the beginning of March they’ve combined for 26 points in Dallas’ last eight games.
Some good news today as the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) today, as they voted overwhelmingly to reveal their ballots for the NHL awards. Two members left Erik Karlsson completely off their Norris ballot last year, so hopefully the transparency can make for more honest voting.