Stars host Devils in battle of struggling clubs

(SportsNetwork.com) – A pair of struggling clubs try to find the win column on
Saturday night when the Dallas Stars aim to rebound against the visiting New
Jersey Devils.

The Stars have lost five of their past six games, struggling on the defensive
end of the ice over that time. Dallas has yielded five goals in each setback,
including Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

Tyler Seguin netted his NHL-leading 22nd goal of the campaign and Antoine
Roussel also lit the lamp, but Kari Lehtonen allowed three goals on 17 shots
before getting pulled 7:34 into the second period.

Jussi Rynnas made 13 saves on 15 shots faced in relief.

Dallas is allowing 3.54 goals per game and head coach Lindy Ruff cited poor
puck movement on the back end as an issue versus the Jets.

“I thought that’s the worse our defense has struggled as a group,” said Ruff.
“That affects scoring chances, our puck movement, our transition game, and I
thought physically (our defense) got dominated down low.”

Forward Travis Moen suffered an upper-body injury versus the Jets and is out
for this game, while defenseman Alex Goligoski did not practice on Wednesday
and Thursday as he continues to battle through an injury.

Though Goligoski is likely to play tonight, forward Ryan Garbutt will begin a
three-game suspension for slew-footing Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien on Tuesday.

It’s the latest discipline against the 29-year-old Garbutt, who netted 17
goals last season and has five tallies and 10 points in 23 games this season.

Garbutt was suspended five games last season for charging and he received a
two-game ban in late November for a knee-to-knee hit versus Edmonton. He also
was fined for spearing during the most recent postseason and Ruff offered no
defense of Garbutt on Thursday.

“It’s something I don’t condone. It hurts the team,” Ruff said on Dallas’
website. “He needs to make a huge commitment to how we need him to play. We’ve
seen him when he brings his game. I said, ‘You are in a situation now where
you can’t go back down that trail anymore. I know you said you wanted to prove
it the last time, but we took a huge step back.'”

The Devils eye a better effort tonight after getting handed a 4-1 setback by
the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Martin Havlat notched a goal, but Cory
Schneider yielded three tallies on 35 shots as New Jersey was nearly doubled
up in the shots department.

As a result, the Devils lost for the eighth time in their past 10 games
(2-5-3).

“I think we didn’t do a good enough job getting pucks to the net. I thought we
had zone time; we got pucks to the point quite a bit,” said Devils head coach
Peter DeBoer. “I thought our (defense) did not do a good enough job getting
pucks to the net — that’s why the lack of shots. But I thought we spent
enough time in their end to generate some more than we did.”

New Jersey did see Mike Cammalleri return from a two-game absence caused by a
strained gluteus muscle, but Dainius Zubrus missed his second straight due to
a leg laceration.

Adam Larsson, meanwhile, has missed New Jersey’s past five games because of
the mumps, while Travis Zajac batted the illness recently while out with a
lower-body injury.

The Devils had won three straight over the Stars before Dallas picked up a 3-2
shootout victory in New Jersey on Oct. 24.

Jamie Benn tallied in regulation and also scored in the shootout along with
Jason Spezza, while Lehtonen had 25 saves for the Stars.

Schneider finished with 35 stops through overtime.