Following a few days to regroup after the surprise firing of head coach Jim Montgomery, the Dallas Stars kick off a back-to-back on Friday night with a home game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Stars, who play at Nashville on Saturday, bring a three-game winning streak into the contest, including a 2-0 victory over New Jersey on Tuesday. That win came just hours after Montgomery was fired for what the team called a "material act of unprofessionalism."
Assistant Rick Bowness was named interim head coach and told the Dallas Morning News it was hard to walk into the team's practice facility in Frisco, Tex., this week knowing that Montgomery was gone.
"Even for me walking into the office in Frisco was tough," Bowness said. "That's Monty's office, not my office."
Bowness, who was coaching the team's defensemen before the sudden promotion, said there weren't going to be a lot of "drastic changes" made in the team's approach.
"You've seen it since I got here," he said. "Monty and I worked very closely on making sure we're a tough team to play against. My philosophies aren't going to change because I'm interim coach. Monty and I worked very closely together to make sure we were a very strong defensive team.
"I've mentioned this before, and everyone knows, if you want to win in this league on a consistent basis, you better be a good defensive team. We are. From training camp, we've been working on trying to create more offense, and we're going to continue that."
Entering Thursday's action, Dallas was allowing just 2.31 goals per game, tops in the NHL. But the Stars also are averaging just 2.59 goals per game, fifth fewest in the league.
Goaltender Ben Bishop had 26 saves in Tuesday's win over the Devils to pick up his first shutout of the season and 32nd of his career.
"We have an experienced group in here -- a lot of guys that have been around a long time," Bishop said. "In sports, unfortunately, people lose their jobs, and people get traded, and you don't have much time to react, and you can't sit there and soak it all in. You have to get back to work, and I thought the guys did a great job."
Dallas will be facing an inconsistent Vegas team that will be playing the second half of a back-to-back that began with a 4-2 loss at St. Louis on Thursday night.
The Golden Knights jumped out to a 2-1 lead on goals by Max Pacioretty and William Carrier in the first period, but the Blues took control with three second-period goals, including one by Jaden Schwartz that proved to be the game-winner.
"We were loose in the second and that cost us the hockey game," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "When you give up three in the second like that, too loose. We played an excellent first. We did a lot of things right. Then in the second period, we turned pucks over, we gave them odd-man rushes. You're not going to beat a team (doing) that."
Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 25 saves for the Golden Knights, who remain in fourth place in the Pacific Division.
"The race for the playoffs is so tight," Fleury said. "We need to keep gaining points throughout the season because you don't want to be in that chase with like five or six teams to make the playoffs. We've got to start putting some points together here."
--Field Level Media