The Chicago Blackhawks are under pressure to win games and acquire standings points. To try and do that against the third place Dallas Stars, the Blackhawks will turn to their veteran goalie.
Marty Turco has not played as well as he hoped after ending his long tenure in Dallas to join the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks last summer.
Returning to the Lone Star State to face the Stars might provide the spark the veteran goaltender needs to finally make an impact for his new club in the final two months of the season.
Turco is expected to make his first start against his former team Friday night as the Blackhawks try to extend the Stars’ season-worst losing skid to five games.
Turco set franchise records with 262 victories and 40 shutouts while playing all of his previous nine seasons with Stars. However, the three-time All-Star never advanced past the conference finals in six playoff appearances with Dallas and was 55-51-21 with a 2.78 goals-against average the past two seasons.
Signed to a one-year deal by Chicago in August, Turco began 2010-11 as the starter but his disappointing 11-11-2 record and 3.10 GAA have him looking to steal time from rookie Corey Crawford.
Still, coach Joel Quenneville has turned to Turco in two of the last four games. The veteran allowed eight total goals while going 1-1-0 at Columbus and Vancouver.
Turco did not play in Chicago’s 5-3 home win over Dallas on Dec. 8, and saw six seconds of action in a 4-2 loss to the Stars at the United Center on Jan. 5.
“I’m sure he’s excited about returning,” Quenneville told the Blackhawks’ official website. “I am sure he is looking forward to it.”
His teammates should be, too, after the Blackhawks (28-22-4) avoided a third straight defeat with a 4-1 win at Edmonton on Wednesday.
Sitting 11th in the Western Conference and three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, Chicago is feeling a sense of urgency.
“Every game is huge for us right now,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “There is no waiting anymore. We don’t have a lot of time anymore. We are going to have to be desperate every game.”
Chicago hopes the addition of forward Michael Frolik will help improve their playoff chances.
The 22-year-old Frolik is expected to make his debut after Chicago acquired him from Florida for fourth-line winger Jack Skille and two prospects Wednesday. Frolik was the Panthers’ second-leading scorer with eight goals and 21 assists.
“We are excited to see what we are getting,” said captain Jonathan Toews, who has two goals and eight assists in five games.
Toews has five goals and 10 assists in 13 career games against the Stars (30-18-6), who have lost three of four at home to the Blackhawks.
Dallas, which had held sole possession of the Pacific Division lead from November until this week, is currently tied for first place with San Jose, one point ahead of Phoenix and two in front of Anaheim.
The Stars blew a pair of leads in Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime home loss to the Coyotes.
Dallas, averaging 2.1 goals during a 1-5-1 stretch, has lost four straight for the first time since a seven-game skid March 17-30, 2009.
“Just stay positive and keep working and eventually, it’ll turn for us,” defenseman Nicklas Grossman told the Stars’ official website.
Brad Richards scored his 22nd goal Wednesday and has four in seven games. Though Richards has one goal in 17 career games versus Chicago, he’s recorded nine assists his last five against the Blackhawks.
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