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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, April 3rd (All times Eastern)

Dallas Stars (37-27-11) at Carolina Hurricanes (33-32-11), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The surging Dallas Stars will try to bolster their playoff chances with a fourth straight victory when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes in Thursday's clash at PNC Arena.

The Stars, who are after their first postseason berth since 2008, currently hold the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. They are even with the Phoenix Coyotes in points with 85, but have played two fewer games.

Minnesota holds the first wild card position with 89 points and the Stars also have a game in hand on the Wild.

In addition to winning its last three games, Dallas also has taken five of six outings since an 0-3-1 stretch from March 14-20.

The Stars have exploded for 16 goals over their three-game winning streak and the club did it with both offense and defense the last time out, slamming the Washington Capitals, 5-0, in Tuesday's road game in D.C.

Kari Lehtonen had 35 saves in his fourth shutout of the season to help Dallas subdued the Capitals offense, while Dustin Jeffrey had two goals in the rout. Tyler Seguin, Ray Whitney and Ryan Garbutt also scored for the Stars.

Lehtonen had 12 saves in the first period, 10 in the second and 13 in the third for his 26th career shutout.

"It's fun playing when there's a lot on the line and every game is so huge," said Lehtonen. "We just have to keep taking this one game at a time and try to win the next one."

The Stars have matched their season high with three straight wins. The club last claimed four consecutive victories during a five-game run from April 5-13.

Thursday's game is the third stop on a five-game road trip for Dallas, which is 16-17-4 as the visiting club this season.

The Hurricanes are running out of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but the club did halt a two-game slide with Tuesday's 4-1 triumph in Pittsburgh. Still, Carolina is six points out of a playoff spot in the East with only six games left on its schedule.

Elias Lindholm scored twice in the second period and Anton Khudobin made 30 stops to help Carolina pick up the win at CONSOL Energy Center. Justin Faulk and Eric Staal also tallied, with Jeff Skinner and Andrei Loktionov adding two assists each for the Hurricanes, who have not lost in regulation over their last four games (2-0-2).

"We've had some tough starts over the past couple of weeks, so it was good to get going here," said Staal. "It took us a little while, but we were able to find the net there against one of the best teams in the league."

Beginning with tonight's contest, Carolina will play two straight and three of its next four on home ice. The 'Canes have lost three in a row at home to fall to 17-15-6 in Raleigh this season.

Dallas beat the Hurricanes 4-1 at home on Feb. 27, giving the Stars wins in four straight and nine of the last 11 meetings in this series. Carolina has dropped two in a row and three of its last five home tests versus the Stars.

04/03 10:42:40 ET

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1st
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