Matthew Tkachuk is behind schedule.
Over the past two years, Tkachuk scored 82 goals, essentially one every other game. This season, Tkachuk has dropped from that 0.51 goals-per-game rate to 0.17 goals per game. And, after accumulating a career-high 109 points last season, he is on pace for just 65 points this season.
Despite all of that, Panthers coach Paul Maurice insists he's not worried about his star player.
"He had a lot of chances at the beginning of the season that just didn't go in," Maurice said. "Then it got a little dry."
Tkachuk did score a goal in Florida's most recent game, a 4-3 loss to the visiting New York Islanders on Saturday night.
On that play, Tkachuk ripped a shot from the right circle, and it found its mark on the far side of the net.
Perhaps that goal will unlock the key for more Tkachuk success. But while Tkachuk has struggled relative to his previous standard, Sam Reinhart finished this past weekend with 16 goals, just one off the NHL lead.
Reinhart is almost halfway to his career-best of 33 goals, which happened in his first season in Florida (2021-22).
Defensively, expect to see starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in between the pipes. He is 11-6-1 with a 2.41 goals-against average.
Meanwhile, the Stars are coming off a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night. It was quite a turnaround from Saturday, when Dallas routed Tampa Bay, 8-1.
"You beat a team 8-1 -- especially a championship team like Tampa Bay -- you know they're going to respond," Stars coach Peter DeBoer said. "They're best players were on a different level."
DeBoer has strong ties to Florida. His first head-coaching job was with the Panthers, and he was with the franchise for three years, missing the playoffs each time.
Since then, he has been with four more NHL franchises -- New Jersey, San Jose, Vegas and now Dallas -- and he taken all four of those squads to at least the conference finals. In fact, he took New Jersey and San Jose to the Stanley Cup Finals. Yet he has never won the Cup in his 15-year coaching career.
The Stars also have two forwards who are former Panthers: Mason Marchment (15 points) and Evgenii Dadonov (eight points).
Dallas, which allowed the third-fewest goals in the league last season, has two solid netminders in Jake Oettinger and Scott Wedgewood.
Offensively, a couple of the Stars' best players -- Jason Robertson and Jamie Benn -- had been scuffling until Saturday. Robertson scored twice in that game, and Benn had one.
"We've had different guys battling confidence (issues) this season," DeBoer said.
Veteran Joe Pavelski, 39, leads Dallas in goals (11) and points (24). Robertson has eight goals and a team-high 14 assists. Benn has five goals and 12 assists.
--Field Level Media
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