The Dallas Stars finally won consecutive games again, doing so for the first time in more than two months.
They know they can’t stop there, and they’ll try to make it three straight Sunday night in a rematch with the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C.
“We just need points and we need to continue to fight to get ourselves in the race,” Stars center Andrew Cogliano said after the team topped Carolina 3-2 on Saturday night.
Tanner Kero scored the game-winning goal in the third period.
“We want to keep ourselves in this playoff hunt,” Kero said. “Each game is just that much more important.”
The Hurricanes have lost two of their past three games. That hasn’t come because of poor play, so they’ll seek a better result in Sunday’s game.
“I can’t fault our guys,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “That’s a good effort from start to finish. Come with that effort, most nights we’re going to be rewarded.”
Dallas coach Rick Bowness said he likes the determination from his team.
“They’re digging in and they’re working their butts off,” Bowness said. “These are (like) playoff games for us right now.”
Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton received positive reviews from Brind’Amour, who called him “definitely one of the better players out there” in Saturday’s game. Hamilton notched his 100th career goal.
Hamilton also knows the Stars are extremely motivated. Three of the five Carolina-Dallas meetings this season have been decided by one goal.
“It’s playoff-style hockey so we have to play better,” Hamilton said.
The Hurricanes posted 43 shots on Saturday night, but they’ve noticed that foes are coming out with fire.
“That’s a big thing,” Carolina defenseman Haydn Fleury said of matching energy of opponents trying to move into playoff position. Carolina is in third place in the Central Division with 51 points. Dallas (36 points) is in sixth place.
Fleury had his first point of the season with a goal. It came in his 32nd outing.
The big performance for the Stars came from goalie Jake Oettinger, who made 41 saves. The 22-year-old rookie was up to the task on relatively short notice.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Cogliano said. “He’s obviously been tossed into the fire a little bit at times.”
Stars goalie Anton Khudobin was placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list Saturday after a positive test. His status is in doubt as the team awaits word as to whether it was a false positive. Khudobin had the virus during the offseason.
Oettinger is capable of filling in well, Bowness said.
“Maturity, no matter what you throw at him,” Bowness said in describing what the Stars are getting from Oettinger, who has played in 18 games (15 starts) this season with a 6-3-6 record.
Dallas has an array of roster issues. Left winger Roope Hintz and defenseman Joel Hanley were out with lower-body injuries Saturday, while center Jason Dickinson logged less than seven minutes before departing.
“Everything is in pencil,” Bowness said.
The time could be approaching for goalie Petr Mrazek to return to action for the Hurricanes. He hasn’t played since suffering a thumb injury on Jan. 30 in a game against Dallas, but he’s closer after a conditioning stint in the minor leagues. He was listed as a healthy extra for Saturday’s game.
“We’re right around the corner, and that’s exciting,” Brind’Amour said of the potential for Mrazek to be on the ice for Carolina soon.
This will be the second game in the Hurricanes’ season-long eight-game homestand. It’s the last visit of the season for the Stars to Raleigh.
–Field Level Media