The Dallas Stars are making up for lost time after coronavirus complications delayed the start of their season.
The Stars aim to improve to 5-0-0 for just the third time in franchise history on Saturday when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C. If victorious, Dallas would match the mark of the 2006-07 club and reside one win shy of the 1996-97 team.
A potent power play is one of the primary reasons that coach Rick Bowness’ club is without a loss this season. Dallas leads the league with a 52.6 percent power-play efficiency, and their 10 goals with the man advantage represent a franchise record through the first four games of the season.
“We’re very happy with (the 4-0-0 start) considering what we went through in training camp and the number of injuries we have to key players,” Bowness said. “You give the credit to the guys that stepped and filled in the void of the injured players. Every one of them has done a wonderful job. Every man we’ve asked to step in and do a job has done that for us.
“We couldn’t have had the homestand we had with the injuries we had without everyone stepping up and doing their job.”
Denis Gurianov (goal, two assists) and defenseman Miro Heiskanen (three assists) each recorded three-point performances as the Stars cruised to a 7-3 romp over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
Anton Khudobin, 34, was given the night off in that contest, but last season’s playoff darling is expected to return to the crease on Saturday. He has won all three of his starts thus far this season and has registered an 0.99 goals-against average and .958 save percentage.
“We’re not surprised with what we’re seeing, because we’ve seen it the whole time he’s been with the organization,” Bowness said.
“People who don’t watch our team play a lot might say ‘Who’s Khudobin?’ But, to us, that’s what we expect from him. We’re not surprised.”
Khudobin, who played two seasons with Carolina (2013-15), sports a 6-1-1 record with a 1.72 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in eight career encounters with the Hurricanes.
Like Dallas, Carolina has seen its schedule interrupted because of coronavirus issues. The Hurricanes returned to the ice with a 1-0 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
Martin Necas scored 1:12 into overtime and Petr Mrazek made 32 saves for his second shutout in three starts for Carolina, which was playing its first game since Jan. 18.
“It felt like the start of the season all over again,” captain Jordan Staal said. “It was a weird feeling going into the game. (Credit coach Rod Brind’Amour with) a good job of making sure we were on the attack to get after them right away.”
Mrazek yielded three goals in his lone meeting with Dallas last season, a 4-1 loss on Feb. 11. He owns a 2-3-1 record with one shutout, a 2.30 GAA and .923 save percentage in seven career appearances (six starts) against the Stars.
Dallas also skated to a 4-1 win on Feb. 25 to complete a sweep of the series.
Gurianov collected two goals and an assist against Carolina last season.
(Field Level Media)