DALLAS (SportsDirect, Inc.) — The Dallas Stars look to follow a perfect four-game road trip with a strong homestand, which begins with a visit from the Florida Panthers on Saturday. The Stars have won five straight overall, including a 4-2 victory at Florida on Oct. 17 in which they received two goals each from captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, and are tied for the best record in the Western Conference (6-1-0).
“We’ve done a really good job playing as a team,” Stars center Vernon Fiddler told the Dallas Morning News. “You can go up and down the game plan, and we’re executing on everything we’re working on.” Florida has dropped three in a row (0-2-1) and must find a way to contain Seguin and Benn, who both have posted 10 points in seven games. The Panthers are expected to be without center Aleksander Barkov (six points), who suffered an upper-body injury in the 3-2 loss at Chicago on Thursday. Veteran Jaromir Jagr leads Florida with five goals and eight points, but former Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau (two assists) still is looking for his first goal.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, FSN Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-3-1): Barkov is considered day-to-day, and Jagr told reporters the 20-year-old is “the team’s best player” and how it would be tough to replace him. Vincent Trocheck stepped into Barkov’s place with Jagr and Huberdeau during Thursday’s contest and has contributed two goals and three assists in the early going. Florida scored three power-play goals in the season opener against Philadelphia but has posted just three in 21 tries since and also has struggled at times on the penalty kill (76.7 percent).
ABOUT THE STARS (6-1-0): Jason Demers (four points) received a two-game suspension for an elbowing infraction in Thursday’s game, meaning fellow defenseman John Klingberg (six points, plus-5 rating) may be asked to log more than the 23:10 of ice time he’s averaging. Dallas has been solid on special teams – especially with the man advantage, as it has succeeded at a 30.4 percent rate with three goals from Benn. Antti Niemi (3-1-0, .940 save percentage) and Kari Lehtonen (3-0-0, .920) have adjusted well to sharing duty in net.
1. Jagr has recorded 588 career power-play points, tying him with Teemu Selanne for third place on the all-time list – two behind Nicklas Lidstrom for second.
2. The Stars have successfully killed all 13 of their penalties during their five-game winning streak and are at 90 percent on the season.
3. Florida G Roberto Luongo is tied with Grant Fuhr for ninth in NHL history with 403 wins and needs 4:04 of ice time to reach 50,000 minutes in his career.
The Panthers face the Dallas Stars on Saturday, October 24th at 8:00 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.