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Opening Night do-over: Dallas Stars at Florida Panthers

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Dallas Florida Stars
The video marquee outside BB&T Center advertises the Florida Panthers’ season-opening game against the Dallas Stars. That series was postponed due to a Covid-19 breakout within the Dallas organization. The two teams meet up Monday in the first of a three-game series. // Photo by @GeorgeRichards

For the first time in more than a week, the Dallas Stars will suit up for a game when they face the Florida Panthers in a game which was originally scheduled for Jan. 14.

It will be a three-game series between Florida and the reigning Western Division champs with the second and third games coming on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Stars haven’t played a whole lot of hockey this season with eight of their games postponed either because of Covid-19 or the major winter storm which crippled Texas last week.

Monday will only be Dallas’ fifth road game of the 2021 season and it comes into Sunrise riding a five-game losing streak with losses in seven of eight since starting off 4-0.

Dallas (5-3-4) has not played since losing in a shootout to Carolina last Saturday night.

”We haven’t played in nine days so we have to get back into that, into the game routine,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said Sunday.

“Right now, we need to play, get some games under our feet again. We’re basically starting all over. We need to get into this battle now. We’re behind a lot of teams in our division and need to make up a gap for playoff position, but that’s fine.”

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The opening series between Florida and Dallas were not the only games between the two to be affected by Covid-19.

Remember, the Panthers were in Dallas for a game against the Stars on March 12 when the NHL put a halt to the 2019-20 season.

The Panthers flew home from Dallas and did not play again until August.

Dallas Florida Stars

There is no activity at AmericanAirlines Center in Dallas on March 12, 2020, as that night’s NHL game between the Stars and visiting Florida Panthers was postponed after the NHL paused its season due to Covid-19. // Photo by @GeorgeRichards

Florida’s opening series in 2021 was supposed to be against Dallas, but it was postponed due to a major Covid-19 breakout within the Stars’ organization.

That also knocked out two games in Tampa.

Last week, three of Dallas’ games were postponed because of major weather-related issues.

Some players had to move their families in with other teammates.

Per former Sun-Sentinel beat writer Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News, goalie Anton Khudobin has “11 people in my house. So it is like a family. We’re treating each other, we’re helping each other, we’re talking to each other. We win together, we lose together.”

“Love what the players have done,’’ Bowness said in a story DeFranks wrote for the DMN.

“And that’s opening up their doors to their family: their teammates and their teammates’ families. That’s wonderful to see. Their hearts are in the right place.”

While Tampa Bay, which was to play in Dallas on Thursday and Saturday, got a game in against Carolina, the Stars have been idle.

At least they have been able to practice a little bit.

The Panthers expect the Stars to have plenty of energy when they finally jump onto the ice.

“They are probably excited to play a game,” Joel Quenneville said. “It will be a good test for us, three games against a good team that is excited about playing. One game at a time against a good hockey team will be a good test.

“We lose a little excitement as we could have had a perfect (road) trip. Let’s get home and get excited about the next set of games.

The Panthers are smarting a bit after getting a little lesson in humility Saturday night.

Flying high after a 7-2 win against Detroit on Friday, Florida was grounded the following evening as the last-place Red Wings pulled out a 2-1 win.

Of Florida’s three regulation losses this season, two have come at the hands of Detroit.

That’s going to happen in these days of eight-game season series.

The Panthers ran into a very motivated team and a goalie they couldn’t solve.

But still.

The positive vibe is this Florida team has shown a propensity to bounce right back from a loss, going 4-0 in games following defeat.

“I think we have confidence in our group that we can back in games even if we’re down a goal or two,” defenseman Gustav Forsling said.

“We have a good feeling within the group and we trust each other.”

The Panthers are not expected to make any major lineup changes although it looks like Owen Tippett is out and Vinnie Hinostroza is in.

Chris Driedger also returns to the net after Sergei Bobrovsky gave up two goals in Detroit on Saturday. That should have been enough to win, but the Panthers just could not solve Detroit goalie Jonathan Bernier.

Is that Bobrovsky’s fault? Apparently Quenneville & Co. think it is.

Bobrovsky is traditionally excellent against the Stars, going 13-1-1 against Dallas with a 1.79 GAA and a .942 save percentage.

He won the lone game against the Stars last season (the one in which Noel Acciari had his second hat trick in as many games) with Chris Driedger scheduled to start the Dallas game which never happened.

News, notes & numbers

Although the Panthers won the lone meeting between the two last season, Dallas has wins in three of the last four games against Florida and points in five of the past six.

Dallas has also earned at least a point in five of its past six games in Sunrise (4-1-1).

— Dallas captain Jamie Benn has a nine-game point streak against the Panthers with 10 goals and 16 points in those games.

Benn leads all current Stars with 12 goals and 22 points in 16 career games against Florida.

— Patric Hornqvist has 24 points off 10 goals in 24 games against Dallas while Jonathan Huberdeau is the only Florida player to record a point-a-game against Dallas (5-8, 13 in 11 games).

— The Panthers set a season high in shots on goal in each of their two games in Detroit, setting a new high with 39 shots on Saturday night.

Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad accounted for 10 of those shots as both took five.

— Florida’s 2-1 loss marked its first regulation road loss this season.

— Alex Wennberg now has five goals in his past eight games but his goal Saturday night was his first on the power play.

Dallas Stars at Florida Panthers

  • When: Monday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise
  • Tickets: AVAILABLE HERE
  • TV/Radio: FSF/560-AM
  • Records: Florida 11-3-2 (2nd in Central); Dallas 5-3-4 (6th)
  • All-time series: Dallas leads 18-13-7
  • Season series: First of eight meetings (three this week)
  • Last season: Florida won only meeting, second game cancelled
  • Up next: Dallas at Florida, Wednesday, 5
  • Panthers This Week — Monday: Dallas, 7; Wednesday: Dallas, 5; Thursday: Dallas, 7; Saturday: Carolina, 7

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINES

FLORIDA FORWARDS

23 Carter Verhaeghe — 16 Sasha Barkov — 91 Anthony Duclair

11 Jonathan Huberdeau — 21 Alex Wennberg — 70 Patric Hornqvist

77 Frank Vatrano —27 Eetu Luostarinen — 10 Brett Connolly

94 Ryan Lomberg — 83 Juho Lammikko — 13 Vinnie Hinostroza 

FLORIDA DEFENSEMEN

52 MacKenzie Weegar — 5 Aaron Ekblad

3 Keith Yandle — 6 Anton Stralman

42 Gustav Forsling — 7 Radko Gudas

FLORIDA GOALIES

60 Chris Driedger

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratches: D Markus Nutivaara, D Noah Juulsen, F Owen Tippett

Taxi squad: D Kevin Connauton, F Scott Wilson, F Mason Marchment, G Philippe Desrosiers

IR: F Noel Accari (upper body)

Florida power play (14/46 30.4% — 5th in NHL)

Florida penalty kill (38/48 79.2% — 17th in NHL)

PP1: Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patric Hornqvist, Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle

PP2: Alex Wennberg, Frank Vatrano, Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe, Anton Stralman

PROJECTED DALLAS STARS LINES

DALLAS FORWARDS

14 Jamie Benn — 12 Radek Faksa — 10 Ty Dellandrea

64 Tanner Kero — 16 Joe Pavelski — 25 Joel Kiviranta

21 Jason Robertson — 24 Roope Hintz — 34 Denis Gurianov

11 Andrew Cogliano — 18 Jason Dickinson — 15 Blake Comeau

DALLAS DEFENSEMEN

23 Esa Lindell — 3 John Klingberg

2 Jamie Oleksiak — 4 Miro Heiskanen

5 Andrei Sekera — 13 Mark Pysyk

DALLAS GOALIES

35 Anton Khudobin

29 Jake Oettinger

Dallas power play (16/48 33% — 2nd in NHL)

Dallas penalty kill (39/50 78% — 18th in NHL)

PP1: Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, Jamie Benn, John Klingberg, Denis Gurianov

PP2: Radek Faksa, Jason Robertson, Ty Dellandrea, Miro Heiskanen, Joel Kiviranta

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