Preview: Stars at Blackhawks
The Dallas Stars are tuning up for their first playoff appearance in three years by playing some of their best hockey, answering a 1-3-1 stretch in which they scored just 10 times by highlighting a 4-0-1 surge with a season high-tying six goals in their last outing. The Stars look to continue their winning ways on Friday when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks.
"If you look at the whole season, we grinded it out, we found a way, and I think we deserve to be in the playoffs," said forward Alexander Radulov, who pushed his point streak to six games after scoring two goals and setting up two others in Tuesday's 6-2 win romp over Philadelphia. The 32-year-old Russian also has two goals and two assists versus Chicago while Tyler Seguin has scored a goal and set up two others in the season series. While Dallas resides in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference and is in line to face the Central champion, the Blackhawks sit in the division's cellar having lost six of eight (2-3-3) before posting a 4-3 shootout victory over St. Louis on Wednesday. Captain Jonathan Toews scored his career-high 35th goal before converting the lone tally in the shootout while Patrick Kane scored and set up a goal to boost his season point total to a personal-best 107.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FS Southwest-Plus (Dallas), NBCS Chicago
ABOUT THE STARS (42-31-7): Dallas is electing to play it safe with some of its stars, as goaltender Ben Bishop, captain Jamie Benn, forward Mats Zuccarello and defensemen Roman Polak did not make the trip to Chicago. Anton Khudobin will get the nod on Friday in place of Bishop, who has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. "We're hoping that Bish will be ready to play Saturday (against Minnesota at American Airlines Center)," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said on Thursday. "He feels really good, and as long as he's feeling good that he is going to be prepared for the playoffs, that's good by me."
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (35-33-12): Kane's offensive outburst on Wednesday pushed his point total to 13 (two goals, 11 assists) in his past 14 games -- including an assist in Chicago's 2-1 win at Dallas on March 9. The former Hart Trophy recipient scored two goals and set up another in the Blackhawks' 4-2 victory over the Stars on Dec. 20 while Alex DeBrincat also registered a three-point performance with a goal and two assists. Corey Crawford, who received a rare night off on Wednesday after 13 straight starts, turned aside 26 of 27 shots in last month's triumph over Dallas.
1. Seguin, who is riding a seven-game point streak versus Chicago, has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his last eight games overall.
2. Blackhawks D Erik Gustafsson has recorded 38 of his 59 points since the calendar flipped to 2019.
3. Dallas C Andrew Cogliano, who exited Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury, practiced on Thursday and is expected to face Chicago.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Stars 2