April 01, 2014

The Dallas Stars are tied atop the NHL's overall standings, and a large portion of their points have been earned in Eastern Conference arenas.

After nine of their first 10 away from home have come against teams in the East, the Stars face another when they visit the Washington Capitals on Thursday night seeking their longest road winning streak in two years.

Dallas (15-4-0) is tied with Montreal and the New York Rangers with 30 points, including a league-best 16 on the road built entirely on an 8-1-0 road record versus the East. The Stars extended their away streak to four with Tuesday's 3-1 win at Buffalo.

They haven't won five straight outside Dallas since taking six in a row Nov. 3-17, 2013, and their recent history against the Capitals (12-4-1) offers no reason to think they can't match that. Dallas is 14-1-2 in the last 17 meetings after winning seven in a row, including its previous four in the nation's capital.

Coach Lindy Ruff, however, isn't concerned with history.

"There's just not an easy game in this league. Everybody knows who we're going to have to deal with and what he can bring," Ruff said, alluding to Alex Ovechkin. "We know that (goaltender Braden) Holtby has been very good for them, whether we get him or not. I look at three real solid lines and an energy line that can give you some problems."

Holtby had 25 saves before Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 45 seconds into overtime to give the Capitals a 2-1 win at Detroit on Wednesday that improved them to 4-1-1 in their last six. Both of Washington's overtime wins have come on goals from Kuznetsov, who leads the club with 18 points.

"Kuzy in overtime has been outstanding," coach Barry Trotz said. "You give him some time and space and he's pretty good. He has that deceptive skating style. It doesn't look like he's moving his feet but he's going faster all the time."

It's unclear whether Trotz will turn to Holtby on consecutive days for the first time this season. Backup Philipp Grubauer's three starts have all come in the second game of back-to-backs, and he's 2-0-1 with a 2.59 goals-against average.

Ruff's focus is on limiting Ovechkin, who has no points while taking 26 shots over the last four games after getting eight goals and eight assists in the first 12. The star left wing has five goals and three assists in 10 career meetings with Dallas.

"His one-timer from that other side. He's a physical force, but our discipline and our penalty killing are going to be big," Ruff said. "We can't give him the one-timer or the shots from the flank. He can score from 50 feet above the line. He can score from five feet above the line."

Ovechkin's 483 goals are tied with Sergei Fedorov for the NHL's career lead among Russian-born players.

T.J. Oshie is dealing with a dry spell of his own, getting only one point in eight games after collecting eight over the first nine. The right wing, though, has 20 points in 22 career meetings with the Stars, including four in the last two.

Dallas' Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are second and third in the league in scoring with 27 and 26 points, respectively. Seguin's goal Tuesday was assisted by Benn, and they've combined for 28 points in the nine road games against the East.

Benn has seven points in the last five meetings with Washington, while Seguin has five in the past four.

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