Stingy Stars turn to G Khudobin at Panthers
When the Dallas Stars visit the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, the goalie matchup will pack some intrigue.
The Stars will turn to veteran Anton Khudobin, who will make his third consecutive start in place of Ben Bishop, who hasn't played since Feb. 4 due to an upper-body injury. There was hope that Bishop could return Tuesday, but he did not practice Monday and is instead aiming for Thursday's game at Tampa Bay.
"Bish right now we do not feel is a player for Florida," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said Monday on NHL.com. "Again, it's a day-to-day thing, and as soon as he feels he can play his position at his level, he is a player. It's close, but it's not there yet."
Khudobin has one shutout, a 2.45 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. Those are solid numbers, but Khudobin has lost two straight starts -- he allowed three goals in each -- and has a 9-10-3 record this season.
"Having Khudobin affords us the luxury of waiting (on Bishop)," Montgomery said.
"When we don't win, he never looks at that the team didn't give me enough goals. He's mad that he gave up two or one, whatever the case may be. That fiery competitiveness resonates through everybody."
Meanwhile, the Panthers, who lost 5-2 to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night, pulled goalie James Reimer after he made just nine saves and allowed three goals in two periods. Roberto Luongo took over with the Panthers trailing 3-2, and he allowed two goals in one period, also making nine saves.
Panthers coach Bob Boughner was upset with Reimer's performance during a second period in which Florida outshot Tampa Bay 17-3 and yet each team scored twice in those 20 minutes.
"It was an easy decision (to pull Reimer)," Boughner said. "We needed some saves (in the second period and didn't get them). That (determined) the game.
"We should have come out of the (second period) at least tied or even up one."
Given Boughner's comments, it's expected that Luongo will get the start against the Stars. Luongo has strong career numbers against the Stars, including a 15-8-3 record with a 2.29 GAA and a .926 save percentage.
The Stars are the second-best defensive team in the NHL, trailing only the New York Islanders. However, the Stars are third from the bottom in goals scored.
Tyler Seguin leads the Stars with 22 goals and also with 51 points. Jamie Benn has a team-high seven power-play goals.
Florida is middle of the pack in the league in goals scored, but the Panthers have struggled defensively. Only two teams have allowed more goals than the Panthers.
Since Nov. 1, the Panthers are No. 1 in the NHL on the power play, and Mike Hoffman is a big part of the offense. He leads the Panthers with 25 goals, and he is also first on the team in power-play scores with 11.
Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov leads the team with 53 points, and winger Jonathan Huberdeau is tops with 38 assists.
Three Panthers players are tied for second with 19 goals -- Barkov, Frank Vatrano and Evgenii Dadonov. Vatrano leads the team with 17 even-strength goals in what has been a breakout season for the fourth-year winger.
All those Panthers scoring standouts, however, may have a tough time against the stingy Stars defense.
"We have a lot of important games coming up here," Luongo said. "We have to turn the page (after the loss to Tampa Bay) and get ready for a big game."
--Field Level MediaHome