Lightning at Stars
7:30 p.m. Thursday, American Airlines Center, Dallas
TV: FSSW Radio: KTCK/1310 AM and 96.7 FM
Records: Lightning 40-25-5, 85 pts.; Stars 41-21-9, 91 pts.
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About the Lightning: Tampa Bay won seven in a row in January to move into playoff position in the East. The Lightning set a franchise record with nine consecutive wins in late February-early March to jump into first place in the Atlantic Division, but since has lost four of five, including Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maples Leafs. They have slipped to third place in the Atlantic Division. … Center Steven Stamko and right winger Nikita Kucherov have provided offensive punch for Tampa Bay with 55 points apiece. Stamkos, who leads the team with 31 goals, had two goals and an assist in Sunday’s 4-0 shutout against Columbus that snapped a four-game losing streak. But those are the only points Stamkos has scored in the past six games. … The Lightning hasn’t scored a power-play goal in eight games, and is in the midst of an 0-for-22 drought with a man advantage.
About the Stars: The LA Kings handed Dallas a 5-2 loss Tuesday. But help appears on the way with 11 games left in the regular season. Coach Lindy Ruff told the team’s website that there “is a chance” forward Patrick Sharp and defensemen John Klingberg could return to the lineup Thursday. Both went through a full practice Wednesday. Klingberg has missed the past five games, and Sharp has been out six games. Both were dealing with lower-body injuries. … Defenseman Jordie Benn (lower body, and Mattias Janmark (upper body) have been ruled out. … The Stars are 1-1-1 on their current five-game homestand and remain tied with St. Louis for the top spot in the Western Conference with 91 points, but the Blues played Wednesday. … The race for the Western Conference lead is heating up. With 89 points, the Kings lead the Pacific Division and are within striking distance of Dallas and St. Louis. The Chicago Blackhawks are three points back with 88 points.