Several problems have plagued the Dallas Stars in 2008-09, but inconsistency has been among the most troubling.
The Stars seek back-to-back victories for just the second time this season as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
One season removed from a run to the Western Conference finals, Dallas (12-14-4) has dropped to the bottom of the Pacific Division and is one point ahead of last-place St. Louis in the Western Conference.
It hasn’t helped that the Stars’ injury-plagued lineup is missing captain Brenden Morrow (torn right ACL), forwards Jere Lehtinen (upper body), Steve Ott (broken right hand) and Joel Lundqvist (shoulder), and defensemen Sergei Zubov (hip) and Stephane Robidas (broken jaw).
There’s also been the recent distraction caused by controversial winger Sean Avery, with whom the organization parted ways on Sunday after just 23 games with the club.
None of those issues seemed to matter on Tuesday as Loui Eriksson scored twice, including with 1:21 left in overtime, for a 2-1 home victory over Phoenix. The third-year forward leads Dallas with a career high-tying 14 goals and is tied for second with 22 points, but has never recorded a point in nine career games versus the Blue Jackets.
“(Tuesday night) we got two good points and we have to build on that,” Eriksson told the Stars’ official Web site. “It’s always good to have that confidence and we need all the points we can get.”
Since beating Edmonton and Calgary from Nov. 30-Dec. 2, Dallas has alternated losses and wins in six contests. The Stars look to secure another two points versus the Blue Jackets, who enter having won three of their last four.
Rookie Steve Mason had a season-high 47 saves - one shy of the franchise record - as Columbus rallied for a 2-1 overtime victory over league-leading San Jose on Wednesday.
“Obviously, it was good for us to get the two big points in come-from-behind fashion,” Mason told the Blue Jackets’ official Web site.
Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock—who helped guide the Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999—watched his current team win its fifth straight at home.
Columbus has dropped five straight on the road to fall to 4-9-2, but one of those wins came against the Stars at the American Airlines Center, 5-4 on Oct. 10 in the season opener for both clubs.
After going winless in its first 10 visits (0-9-1) to Dallas, Columbus has won four of five there.
Dallas leads the all-time series 21-4-4, and will likely get its first look at Mason, who is among the league leaders with a 1.91 goals-against average.
Stars netminder Marty Turco, meanwhile, is 11-1-2 with two shutouts and a 2.04 GAA in 14 career starts versus the Blue Jackets.
Columbus’ Rick Nash has nine goals and four assists in his last 15 matchups against the Stars. He leads the Blue Jackets (14-14-3) with 13 goals and 26 assists, but has just two assists in his last six games.