Saturday on home ice, the Dallas Stars will look to do something they have not done in a while against the Vancouver Canucks – win a hockey game.
After defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Thursday night, Dallas will meet the improved Canucks — 14-9-2 under new coach Rick Tocchet — for the second time in 12 days.
If the Stars and coach Pete DeBoer receive the kind of sterling play they got from goaltender Jake Oettinger on Thursday, they stand a good chance of halting their five-game skid (0-4-1) against Vancouver.
The Stars’ last victory over the Canucks was a 6-1 home win on Nov. 19, 2019.
Against Pittsburgh, the Stars (39-19-14, 92 points) won as the 24-year-old Oettinger made five saves in the final 68 seconds with the visitors on a six-on-four power play and their goaltender pulled.
“We’ve talked all year, it’s about your response,” said DeBoer after watching the goalie stymie the Penguins. “His response tonight tells you what he’s about. We weren’t going to lose that game, and he made sure of it. He was our best player by far.”
Oettinger (31-10-11) stopped 40 of 42 shots from the desperate Penguins, who cling to the final wild-card spot by one point over the Florida Panthers entering Friday.
“I feel like I’m one of the best goalies in the world, and I haven’t shown that,” said Oettinger. “A lot of people have been saying they think I’m exhausted. No one knows how I feel except for me. I feel great. No one can say that about tonight.”
Dallas center Tyler Seguin (leg laceration) returned after missing six games. Miro Heiskanen’s assist gave him a 12-game points streak – the longest by a defenseman in franchise history.
In its ninth straight win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night, Vancouver (32-34-5, 69 points) saw 27-year-old Andrei Kuzmenko set the club record for most goals by a first-year player with his 35th.
That number broke the team record set by Pavel Bure, who netted 34 in his rookie campaign in 1991-92 over 65 games — the same amount as Kuzmenko.
The milestone pleased Kuzmenko, but he expects more going forward.
“I’m happy. It’s important for my family, for me as well,” said the Russian left winger. “It’s good, but I need to be better. I need to score a lot of goals, maybe 40, 45. Keep working.”
Tocchet said the club’s ability to finish and put the puck away can be contagious.
“It was nice to see a couple of guys finish because they’ve had some chances in the past, but it’s nice to finish,” said Tocchet, whose squad is 8-2-0 in its past 10 matches. “It gets your confidence (up), loosens you up a little bit.”
During a career-high 10-game points streak, leading scorer Elias Pettersson (90 points) has five goals and nine assists.
Vancouver will be starting a three-game road trip with stops Saturday night at Dallas, Sunday at Chicago against the Blackhawks and Tuesday at St. Louis against the Blues.
Going back to February of 2018, the Canucks have won nine of the past 12 games against the Stars.