(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars aim to post their longest winning streak in over a month on Friday night as they welcome the Florida Panthers to American Airlines Center.
The Stars have followed up a three-game slide with back-to-back wins over the New York Rangers and Boston, topping the Bruins 5-3 on Tuesday night. Trevor Daley and Vernon Fiddler each scored shorthanded in the victory over Boston, while Jamie Benn scored twice.
Erik Cole scored into an empty net and Kari Lehtonen made 41 saves for the Stars, who are five points back of a wild card spot in the Western Conference and are aiming to win three in a row for the first time since a four-game run from Dec. 27-Jan. 3.
"I just think that we have been playing good hockey," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.
Lehtonen has had his ups and downs this season, winning 23 games but posting a 2.94 goals against average and .906 save percentage. That prompted Dallas to upgrade the position on Wednesday as they sent backup netminder Anders Lindback and a 2016 third-round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres for goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
Enroth, 26, had a 13-21-2 record with a 3.27 GAA and .903 save percentage in 37 games this season for the league-worst Sabres.
A second-round pick by Buffalo in 2006, Enroth is 38-56-14 with a 2.92 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 118 career games. He is expected to get more than a traditional backup role with the Stars and his push for playing time will begin this weekend as he is slated to start either tonight or, more likely, on Saturday on the road versus the Colorado Avalanche.
"He's proven he can be a starter," Ruff told Dallas' website of Enroth. "In our eyes, we've improved our team. Some of these back-to-backs we've got -- even depending on play -- it could go to either guy playing. Right now, we are at desperation point. We need to win games and I need him to step in, play really well and win games for us. We are going to take it one game at a time. I don't think you can call him a backup after he has been a starter and won a World Championship. That isn't backup material anymore."
Lehtonen is 13-8-4 in his career versus the Panthers with a 2.56 GAA, .922 save percentage and three shutouts in 26 meetings (25 starts), while Enroth is 2-1-1 with a 1.47 GAA and .958 save percentage in four games.
Dallas will be without forward Antoine Roussel for the next two games beginning tonight as he serves a suspension for a cross-check delivered to Boston's Adam McQuadi just 3:43 into Tuesday's game.
The Panthers are in a similar spot in their playoff race as they sit four points behind the Bruins for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They failed to close that gap a bit last night, losing 2-1 to the Minnesota Wild.
Roberto Luongo made 21 saves and Nick Bjugstad had a goal, but the Panthers went 0-for-5 on the power play in failing to record a point for the first time in five games (3-1-1).
"You don't get a whole lot against Minnesota," said Panthers coach Gerard Gallant. "They're a tough team, and they played a real good defensive game."
It is unknown if Luongo will start for a second straight night or if backup Al Montoya will go tonight. Luongo is 14-7-3 with a 2.23 GAA, .927 save percentage and two shutouts in 25 meetings with the Stars, while Montoya is 1-1-0 with a 1.91 GAA and a .933 save percentage in a pair of starts and two relief appearances.
The Panthers have won three in a row and five of their past six versus the Stars, winning four straight and six of seven in Dallas.