Flames-Stars Preview


As their collective thoughts stay with ailing teammate Rich Peverley, the Dallas Stars remain focused on their drive toward the postseason.

The Stars continue an emotional week looking for a fourth straight victory Friday night and a season sweep of the visiting Calgary Flames.

One night after Dallas players, coaches and staff watched Peverley collapse on the team's bench against Columbus, the Stars (32-23-10) regrouped to win 3-2 over NHL-leading St. Louis in overtime Tuesday.

"We were thinking about Rich back home, but I thought we did a great job getting mentally ready for this game," said Jamie Benn, who scored 3:42 into OT to help the Stars win for the eighth time in 11 games.

"We're still in a big playoff push and we found a way to get two points."

In the mix for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, Dallas' push to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008 will go forward without Peverley. The team said Wednesday he will not play again this season, his first with the Stars.

The 31-year-old center is fourth on the team with 30 points, but it's uncertain if he'll ever play again while more extensive work is done to evaluate his irregular heartbeat. He is expected to undergo a procedure he put off when his condition was first discovered in September.

It is believed Peverley's heart likely raced out of control and then stopped Monday, but probably for no more than about 10 seconds before medical personnel got it going again. The game was postponed as both teams dealt with the traumatic experience.

Dallas forward Alex Chiasson was so affected by the incident that he was hospitalized due to emotional distress, but he's expected to return to the ice Friday.

"This doesn't go away in one game," coach Lindy Ruff said. "Those emotions that the players will carry forward are going to last for a good period of time."

Dallas showed its resiliency against the Blues, who had won five straight.

"I told them, 'You can look for a reason to lose or you can find a way to win,'" Ruff said. "I said we need to find a way to win and we need to win it for a couple of our teammates."

Tim Thomas could be back in net after making 28 saves Tuesday in his first start for Dallas. Acquired from Florida, Thomas stopped all six shots during his Stars debut Saturday in relief of Kari Lehtonen, who suffered a concussion during a 4-3 win over Minnesota.

Benn has scored in three straight games and has 11 points in seven games since the Olympic break. Tyler Seguin has four goals and five assists over the last three.

That duo has helped Dallas dominate both meetings with the Flames this season. Seguin had a career-high four goals with an assist in a 7-3 win at Calgary on Nov. 14. Benn had a goal and a career-high five assists that day, and he and Chiasson both scored twice in a 5-1 home rout of the Flames on Oct. 24.

While Calgary (26-33-7) looks to avoid being swept by Dallas for the first time since 2003-04, it hopes to build on Wednesday's 7-2 home win over Anaheim. Mikael Backlund scored twice and added an assist as the Flames built a 4-0 first-period lead en route to their highest-scoring game of the season.

They were held to two or fewer goals in six of the previous eight.

"A nice boost for the team," Backlund said. "It's nice to have seven goals against one of the best teams in the league."

Backlund has recorded 11 of his career-high 16 goals in his last 22 games, but he doesn't have a point in three straight versus Dallas.