Bill Meltzer: Stars Gameday: 1/18/15 @ CHI


Lindy Ruff’s Dallas Stars (20-17-7) are in action for the second half of back-to-back games, traveling to the Windy City on Sunday to take on Joel Quenneville’s Chicago Blackhawks (24-14-2). Game time is 5:00 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.

This is the fourth of five meetings between the Central Division teams this season, and the third and final game in Chicago.

The Blackhawks have won each of the first three games but two of the three have gone beyond regulation. On Oct. 9 in Dallas, the Hawks prevailed via shootout, 3-2. On Nov. 16 in Chicago, the Hawks routed the Stars by a 6-2 count. On Jan. 4 in Chicago, the Hawks erased four separate one-goal deficits to prevail in overtime, 5-4.

Winning the second half of back-to-back games has been a chronic problem for the Stars, dating back several seasons. Things improved a bit last year in the first season of Ruff’s tenure but the issue has reared its head again thus far in 2014-15. To date, the Stars are winless (0-4-1) in the second half of back-to-backs.

On Saturday in Dallas, the Stars captured a 5-4 over the previously red hot Washington Capitals. Dallas Center Saturday night. Dallas saw a 3-0 lead slip away but scored two quick goals early in the third period and then hung on late for a one-goal win.

Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Erik Cole had one goal and one assist apiece against the Capitals. Rookie defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, recalled from the AHL’s Texas Stars earlier in the day, contributed in two assists. Winning goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 28 of 32 shots.

Dallas brings an extensive injury list into Chicago. Top-pairing defenseman Trevor Daley is out with an undisclosed injury, along with rookie forward Brett Ritchie. Forwards Patrick Eaves (ankle), Valeri Nichushkin (hip surgery) and defenseman Patrik Nemeth (severe forearm laceration from a skate cut) all remain on injured reserve.

Chicago has not played its best hockey of late and seems to be in a bit of midseason malaise before the All-Star break. The club has dropped four of its last seven games, with all of the losses coming in regulation. The team is third in the Central Division, two points ahead of Winnipeg.

On Friday the Blackhawks absorbed a 4-2 loss to the Jets at the United Center. Chicago led early but were unable to sustain their advantage. Brandon Saad scored a first period goal to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. With the Jets ahead, 3-1, rookie Teuvo Teräväinen scored his first goal to temporarily narrow the game to 3-2 with 7:17 left in the game. Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 33 shots in a losing cause. The Jets tacked on a late empty-net goal.

On the Chicago injury front, veteran forward Kris Versteeg (hand) and young defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee) are out of the lineup.