|Stars search for elusive road win against Capitals|
WASHINGTON -- The Dallas Stars visit the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night hoping to salvage the finale of a six-game road trip and boost their standing in the Western Conference wild-card race.
Dallas is 0-3-2 on the trip after dropping a 4-3 decision on Sunday in Winnipeg. Mattias Janmark and Jamie Benn scored for the Stars (38-27-8).
Adding injury to insult, goalie Ben Bishop left the game midway through the first period with a lower-body issue and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Kari Lehtonen came on Sunday and made 17 saves.
"He stepped up for us, made some huge saves," Stars defenseman John Klingberg told NHL.com. "We know we have two good goalies and they're probably our best players every night now, so we depend on both of them."
The Stars trailed 3-2 after two periods and pressed until the Jets scored on an empty-netter.
Despite the losing streak, Dallas is tied with the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild-card spot, but the Kings hold the tiebreaker having played one fewer game.
"We know we've got to win games, we know there is going to be movement," Janmark told the Dallas Morning News regarding the tight standings. "We're right there, and we've just got to stay alive here when we're going through this tough stretch. Then, I think once we can turn the page here, we can make a push."
To do so, they will have to start putting the puck in the net more consistently. The Stars outshot the Jets 30-24 and had numerous quality chances to score. Dallas has just 16 goals in the last eight games and is 1-4-3 in that span.
"I'm not sure," Hitchcock told the Morning News when asked about the offensive problems. "I think whether it's squeezing our sticks or just going through phases where you're missing chances, I'm not sure. In these games, we've needed a goal at the right time, and it hasn't happened. That's how close it's been."
Washington (41-24-7) holds two-point lead over Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division, but the Capitals squandered a chance to add the that lead on Sunday. Facing a Flyers team that played the night before, the Capitals dropped a 6-3 decision in Philadelphia.
Three Washington turnovers led directly Philadelphia goals as the Capitals' four-game win streak came to an ignominious end.
"We shoot ourselves in the foot, obviously," Alex Ovechkin told the Washington Post.
John Carlson had a goal and an assist, and Ovechkin and Chandler Stephenson scored for Washington. Philipp Grubauer made 29 saves.
"We have to start playing playoff hockey," Jay Beagle told NHL.com. "You have to start right now. Teams that are fighting for spots and teams that are a little more desperate, we have to match how desperate they are, and we have to go after them rather than sitting back and waiting for the game to come to us."
The Capitals are expected to again be without injured center Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body) and defenseman Brooks Orpik (lower body) on Tuesday night.
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who was solid in Friday's win over the Islanders after sitting for four games, is expected to get the start Tuesday. Coach Barry Trotz indicated Monday that Holtby and Philipp Grubauer could split the final 10 games of the regular season.
"Whoever's going good and who we feel is the hottest at the right time we're going to go with," Trotz told the Washington Post.
Holtby has struggled in limited action against the Stars, posting a 1-4 record with a 4.32 goals-against average (GAA) and an .854 save percentage.
Lehtonen sits 12-10-3 this season with a 2.46 GAA and .913 save percentage. Against Washington in his career, he is 18-6-3 with a 2.61 GAA and .921 save percentage.