Panthers-Stars Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 14, 2011
The Dallas Stars are off to their best start in five years but didn't show a strong ability to finish over the weekend. Being back home could bring about better results. The Stars look to continue their best home start in nearly a decade Tuesday night and prevent the Florida Panthers from winning four consecutive road games for the first time since 2009-10. After extending its winning streak to four with 5-2 victories over Carolina and Washington, Dallas (11-5-0) concluded its four-game trip with a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday and a 5-2 defeat to Detroit the following day. The Stars - off to their best 16-game start since opening 12-4-0 in 2006-07 - scored first in each of the last two games and both were tied after two periods, but they were outscored 5-0 in the third. "I don't think anyone's throwing a party over it - 2-2 is respectable, and we can look at it that way," forward Adam Burish said of the road trip. "We're going to go back home, we're going to shore up a few things in our game and keep going." Dallas has scored twice in the third period of each it last four home games. Kari Lehtonen has started all seven of the Stars' home games and won six of them. The team hasn't had a better start at home since opening 9-0-1 in 2002-03. He's expected to get the nod from first-year coach Glen Gulutzan after Andrew Raycroft made 35 saves Saturday in his third start of the season. Lehtonen tops the NHL with 11 wins and is among the league leaders with a .934 save percentage. Lehtonen won Dallas' only meeting with the Panthers last season, turning aside 27 shots in a 4-1 road victory Oct. 21. He was 1-4-3 with a 3.35 GAA in his previous eight starts versus Florida. The Panthers (8-5-3) arrive in Dallas following a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday that snapped their season-best six-game point streak. Florida was 0 for 7 on the power play, including a 5-on-3 chance in the third. Moments later, Stephen Weiss received a game misconduct for arguing Jason Garrison's hooking call that led to a penalty shot, which the Flyers converted for a 3-1 lead. "I think our composure overall was not great tonight and that was a pretty good example of it, to lose our top forward for the last 10 minutes of the game," first-year coach Kevin Dineen said of Weiss, who scored in last season's loss to Dallas. "Without him in the lineup, that's a pretty big hole." While Florida has dropped four straight at home, the club has won its last three on the road by a combined 13-5. The Panthers' last four-game surge away from home was Nov. 12-21, 2009. Jose Theodore has been in net for each of the last three road wins while posting a 1.67 GAA. However, he has lost five of his last six starts in Dallas and is 3-6-2 with a 4.19 GAA against the Stars since beating them in the first round of the 2006 playoffs while with Colorado. Dallas left wing Jamie Benn has 17 of his team-best 19 points in the last 12 games. He has four assists in two career games versus Florida. The Panthers have won four of five in Dallas, posting a 6-5 shootout victory in their last visit Oct. 30, 2009.
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