Two of the league’s top scoring defensemen will square off tomorrow night in Dallas when the Ottawa Senators visit the Stars. Erik Karlsson is only up by one more goal, and down one less point overall than his 23-year old countryman. Karlsson has been hot and on a streak for six-games now in which he has scored five goals and five assists. John Klingberg on the otherhand, who is from rival Daniel Alfredsson’s hometown of Gothenburg Sweden, in his last five outings has eight points, including two goals.
The Sens will have a lot of work to do and their hands full when they face off against the Stars’ top line. As of this moment, that top line features the Nos. 2 and 3 scorers in the NHL, alongside Patrick Sharp, who is tied for 46th overall in the league. Not too shabby. Jaime Benn, is an Art Ross Trophy winner from last season being the NHL’s top scorer. In his career against the Sens he has four goals in seven career games. He will probably add to that total. Tyler Sequin has three goals and nine points in 21 games against Ottawa. Sharp has three goals and 10 points in 14 games vs. the Senators. These stats are impressive and Dallas isn’t stopping any time soon.
The Sens have are coming off a five-game homestand. On the road again, they will be in enemy territory for the first time since they lost to Nashville in a very ugly 7-5 decision. That was followed by an even uglier collapse in Carolina. Outside those two flops, Ottawa has played well on the road this season, which their 5-2-1 record stands up for. But the Stars are also an impressive 8-2-0 in their own building, winning their last three. Their most recent loss was to the ‘other’ Ontario team, a 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 10
Craig Anderson will probably play tomorrow night and put his career 3-2-0 record (.904 save percentage, 3.28 GAA) to the test against the Stars. It should be his fifth consecutive start. Anderson has posted two consecutive shutouts for the Senators, who look to extend their point streak to six games. The Stars have been sharing their goalie duties so far this season, with Ante Niemi playing in their last game. Kari Lehtonen’s career record against the Senators is 9-5-0, while Niemi’s is 2-3-0, so it is still to be seen who will start at home for the Stars.
It should be a major test for the Sens who will start a three-game road trip against a tough team in Dallas. If they win tomorrow on the road, it will be for the first time since 2008 in Dallas. The Stars have won seven straight games against Ottawa after scoring 11 goals total in two victories last season. So it will be up to players like Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan, who will try to push his career-high point streak to nine games, while Ottawa’s defense tries to continue its solid run and bring down the Stars.
“The guys have been paying the price to block the shots, whether it’s our defensemen or forwards,” Anderson told local media. “The second thing is that when we have the puck through the neutral zone we’re making sure we’re getting it deep and forcing the team to come 200 feet against us.”
Dallas is the best test, since they have won five straight games and are second in the league in scoring, with 3.52 goals per game. Dallas’ special teams have been a big part of the team’s recent 3-0-2 record and exellent play so the Sens will need to stay out of the penalty box. The stars have killed all nine power-play opportunities over the last three games and going 8-for-22 with the man advantage in the past seven games.
Ottawa has been better on special teams as of late. Defenseman Karlsson has quarterbacked the power play posting at least a point in six straight games. But can he carry the team to a victory in their enemy’s house? We don’t think. It should be a high scoring affair, and Anderson will have to stand on his head to keep this one close.
Our pick: Stars over Senators, 5-3