The Dallas Stars have three games to improve their playoff seeding. Facing the Columbus Blue Jackets in one of them may help their chances.
The Stars look to continue their road dominance over the Blue Jackets when the teams conclude their season series on Thursday night.
Dallas (48-25-6) still has a slim chance to earn its eighth division title in 10 seasons, but will need help. With 102 points the Stars are two points behind second-place San Jose and five in back of division-leading Anaheim and have a game in hand on both teams.
"We're still in the race heading into our final three games and our focus is to be playing as well as we can heading into the playoffs," said Dallas coach Dave Tippett, whose team plays at home against the Ducks on Friday night. "If we do that, the points will take care of themselves."
A matchup in Columbus, though, gives the Stars a good opportunity to pick up a win. Dallas is 5-0-1 on the road against the Blue Jackets (32-41-7) since a 4-2 loss on Nov. 1, 2002, and is 8-2-1 all-time in Columbus.
The Stars are 1-1-1 against the Blue Jackets this season, winning the last meeting 3-0 at Nationwide Arena on March 9 behind 30 saves from Marty Turco and a goal and assist from Sergei Zubov.
But Dallas suffered a letdown Monday night, losing 4-2 to St. Louis after going 10-1-1 in their previous 12 games - a stretch that started with the shutout win over the Blue Jackets.
Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow scored for the Stars. Ribeiro has four goals and 10 points in his last five games, while Morrow has four goals and nine points in nine games since returning from a wrist injury.
Morrow, the Stars' captain, has two goals and eight points in his last seven games against Columbus.
Stephane Robidas returned to the Dallas lineup after missing seven games with a concussion courtesy of a punch to the head from Nashville's Jordin Tootoo, but fellow defenseman Darryl Sydor is expected to miss his fifth straight game Thursday with a hand injury.
Columbus has dropped four straight following a four-game winning streak. The Blue Jackets have been outscored 15-4 during their skid, including a 3-0 loss at Detroit on Tuesday night in the back end of a home-and-home series.
Fredrik Norrena stopped 20 shots for Columbus, which had several outstanding scoring chances turned aside by six-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Dominik Hasek.
"Our goalie played well. (Hasek) outplayed us," Blue Jackets forward Jason Chimera said.
Norrena, who has started 48 games in his rookie season, is 2-1-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average against the Stars.
Columbus, though, has gotten little offense in recent games partly due to poor special teams play. The Blue Jackets are 1-for-22 with the man advantage during their losing streak while allowing four power-play goals in 17 chances.
Rick Nash, who leads the Blue Jackets with 25 goals, has not recorded a point in three games against the Stars this season.