Stars host Hurricanes in clash of top teams

For roughly two months, the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes have been among the NHL's hotter teams.The Hurricanes can match a franchise record with their sixth straight road victory Tuesday ni

Stars host Hurricanes in clash of top teams

For roughly two months, the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes have been among the NHL’s hotter teams.

The Hurricanes can match a franchise record with their sixth straight road victory Tuesday night, while trying to keep the Stars from a fourth consecutive home win.

Since Dec. 11, Dallas is 17-6-3, and its 37 points during that stretch are second-most in the NHL over that span heading into play Monday. Meanwhile, Carolina is 16-4-4 with 36 points, tied for third-most since Dec. 11.

The Hurricanes, who just finished a 4-1-0 stretch of home games with Saturday’s 1-0 overtime victory against New Jersey, have outscored their opponents 30-13 during a 7-0-1 road stretch that dates to Dec. 12.

“We’re working extremely hard,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

The Hurricanes have won six consecutive road games only once. That came during the 1990-91 season when the franchise was based in Hartford.

Carolina has won two straight against the Stars, and has gone 4-1-1 in its past six at Dallas.

The Central Division-leading Stars, however, held on for a 3-2 win at Montreal on Saturday to cap a 2-0-1 post-All-Star break road trip. Now the Stars return home, where they’ve totaled 14 goals during a three-game home winning streak.

“I think everyone in (the dressing room) knows we haven’t reached our full potential,” Stars defenseman Thomas Harley said. “There’s still a lot to do.”

A third-year pro, Harley has recorded four of his career-high 13 goals in the past five games.

“Offense comes pretty naturally, so that stuff just takes care of itself,” Harley said. “What I really focus in on is defending and make sure my offense comes from good defense.”

Dallas veteran Tyler Seguin scored twice against the Canadiens and has nine goals with 10 assists in his past 18 games. Star teammate Jason Robertson has recorded three goals and 12 assists in 10 career games versus Carolina.

The Stars’ Jake Oettinger has a 2.76 goals-against average during a five-start winning streak. Oettinger has posted a 2.36 goals-against average while going 2-1-2 as a starter against the Hurricanes during his career.

Carolina’s Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 34 shots against the Devils for his second shutout of the season over the weekend. He owns a 2.07 goals-against average over his past eight starts.

In his second season of extensive play, Kochetkov has already set career highs for appearances (26), starts (24) and wins (13).

“We’re just in the beginning stages of what we’re going to see out of him,” Brind’Amour said.

Kochetkov has never faced the Stars.

Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, who scored the overtime winner versus New Jersey, has 11 goals with 24 assists in the past 24 games. Aho has registered seven goals and 13 assists in 19 career games against the Stars.

Seth Jarvis is second on the Hurricanes with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists). Teammate Martin Necas, who’s third with 35 points, had a goal in each contest when the Hurricanes swept the last season’s two-game series from Dallas.