Just three points out of first place in the Central Division with eight games remaining, the Dallas Stars will start a key back-to-back on Friday night against the Arizona Coyotes in Tempe, Ariz.
Dallas (40-20-14, 94 points) is tied for second with the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, three points behind the Minnesota Wild heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. The Stars travel to Denver after Friday's contest for a showdown with the Avalanche on Saturday.
After the game with Colorado, the Stars play just one of their final six games against a team currently projected to make the playoffs, Pacific Division-leading Vegas on April 8 in Dallas. Both the Stars and Colorado have a game in hand on Minnesota.
Dallas bounced back from a 3-1 home loss to Vancouver to defeat Chicago 4-1 on Tuesday to begin its three-game road trip. Tyler Seguin, Colin Miller, Joe Pavelski and Luke Glendening each scored a goal for the Stars and Jake Oettinger stopped 17 of 18 shots for his 32nd win of the season.
"It was a good win and we just have to keep moving forward," Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said.
The Stars are 3-0 against Arizona this season, including a 7-2 victory at Mullett Arena on Nov. 3. Although the Coyotes (27-35-13, 67 points) are seventh in the Central Division, they are a respectable 20-12-4 at home this season.
"They've been playing good hockey," Miller said. "We've got to continue to build these last eight games left. We've got to make sure that we're sharp (for the playoffs)."
Seguin said it's important to not overlook Arizona before Saturday's game with Colorado in what could be a playoff preview.
"Obviously, sometimes these teams are a little looser and not (playing) playoff-style," Seguin said. "But we've got to prepare for what's coming. Obviously, a big game on Saturday in Colorado, but focus on Arizona first."
Arizona has lost five straight (0-3-2), with one loss in overtime at Edmonton (4-3) and another on a shootout against the Avalanche (4-3). Two others were by just one goal, including a 5-4 loss to the Oilers on Monday, which snapped an eight-game point streak at Mullett Arena.
Forward Matias Maccelli continued his strong rookie season in the loss with two goals, the first multi-goal game of his career. Maccelli, a 2019 fourth-round draft pick from Finland, has 10 goals and 33 assists in 57 games and helped hold Connor McDavid to just one assist and a minus-2 rating in the contest.
"He had two goals playing McDavid, and you should get an award for that," Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. "He played really good defensively, and now he's learning to put more pucks on the net and he is successful."
Forward Clayton Keller had an assist Monday to extend his point streak to 13 games, the first Coyotes player to accomplish that feat since the team relocated prior to the 1996-97 season. The organization record is 18 games set by Dale Hawerchuk with the then-Winnipeg Jets in 1984-85.
Keller also has 81 points (36 goals, 45 assists), the first player to hit the 80-point mark for the Coyotes since Keith Tkachuk recorded 86 points in 1996-97.
--Field Level Media