Stars at Coyotes
9 p.m. Thursday, Gila River Arena, Glendale, Ariz.
TV: FSSW Radio: KTCK/1310 AM and 96.7 FM
Records: Stars 44-21-9, 97 points; Coyotes 32-34-7, 71 pts.
About the Stars: Dallas clinched a playoff spot and strengthened its hold on the top seed in the Western Conference with Tuesday’s 6-2 win at the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. It was the Stars’ fourth win in five meetings with Chicago. “To go on the road and beat this team to clinch is a good accomplishment,” coach Lindy Ruff told the team website. “But now we are off to our next goal.” With eight games to play, the Stars hold a two-point edge over St. Louis in both the Central Division and Western Conference races. Los Angeles, which lost Tuesday, is four points back. If the playoffs started today, Dallas would open against Minnesota, which leads Colorado by a point for the second wild-card berth. This is the middle of a three-game road trip that finishes Saturday in San Jose.
About the Coyotes: Arizona pounded Edmonton 4-2 on Tuesday, snapping a two-game losing streak in which the Coyotes were shut out in both games. Arizona welcomed the return of defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who had an assist in his first ice time since a shoulder injury sidelined him for six games. Ekman-Larsson leads the team in points (50) and assists (31) and is second in goals (19). Goalie Mike Smith, who missed more than three months with a core injury that required surgery, has won three of four games and stopped 131 of 136 shots since his return nearly two weeks ago. The Coyotes won the only meeting with Dallas this season, 6-3 on Feb. 18 in Arizona. Max Domi had two goals and an assist and Louis Domingue made 39 saves.