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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, January 19th (All times eastern)

Dallas Stars (19-17-7) at Tampa Bay Lightning (14-21-10), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Brad Richards will make his return to Tampa Bay tonight, as the Dallas Stars visit the Lightning and St. Pete Times Forum.

Richards was drafted by the Lightning in the second round of the 1998 draft and spent his first six-plus NHL seasons with Tampa. He totaled 150 goals, 339 assists and 489 points in 552 regular season games with them, and won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP when the Lightning captured the Stanley Cup championship in 2004. He had 12 goals and 14 assists in that postseason run.

However, the Lightning found themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference last year and were looking to shed salary. They found a suitor in the Stars, who were in the midst of a close race in the Western Conference, and traded Richards to Dallas on February 26.

Richards posted just two goals and nine assists in 12 games with Dallas last year, but added three goals and 12 helpers in 18 postseason games in helping the Stars reach the Western Conference finals. Richards has 11 goals and 25 assists in 42 games this year and will face the Lightning for the first time in his career tonight.

Dallas begins a five-game road trip tonight after going 2-0-1 on a recent homestand. That residency ended on Saturday with a 3-2 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Mike Ribeiro had a goal and an assist in regulation and also notched the lone tally of the shootout. Marty Turco did his job by halting all three shooters he faced in the extra session while ending with 20 saves total. Jere Lehtinen also scored and added a helper for the Stars, who have lost three of four and six of their last eight on the road. They are 8-11-3 as the visiting team this season.

Turco is 4-1-0 with a 2.04 goals against average in his career versus the Lightning and he will face his former backup tonight in Mike Smith.

Smith was one of three players dealt to Tampa in the Richards trade in addition to a draft pick also going to the Lightning. Getting a chance to start in Tampa Bay, Smith is 11-16-9 with a 2.50 GAA this season. He went 24-14-2 with five shutouts in 44 games with the Stars and has also never faced them before.

Smith was charged with four goals on 21 shots in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Florida. The Lightning, who also acquired Jeff Halpern and Jussi Jokinen from Dallas in the Richards trade, led the contest by a 3-1 margin before surrendering three second-period goals.

Vincent Lecavalier and Vinny Prospal each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who had won three of four coming into the contest. Ryan Malone also scored, notching his 100th career goal.

Rookie forward Steven Stamkos sat for the second time in five games as he continues a program to increase his physical strength. The first overall pick of the 2008 draft is slated to play tonight and has five goals and 12 assists on the season.

Tampa is 5-8-7 at home this year and plays the third portion of a five-game homestand tonight. It has lost eight of its last 10 as the host.

The Lightning have also struggled at home in their history versus the Stars, as they have lost eight straight as the host to Dallas, which is 11-1 with two ties all-time in Tampa. The Stars, who haven't lost in Tampa since February 19, 1996, have also won two of three and six of their last eight overall versus the Lightning.

01/19 10:38:09 ET


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