Big points at stake vs. Canucks tonight

There are just five games left in the regular season for the Dallas Stars and it kicks off tonight with the first game of a key back-to-back series. The Stars play at Vancouver tonight and then in San Jose tomorrow.

Right now the focus is on the Canucks. Picking up a win or a point will guarantee that the Stars stay on top of the Pacific Division and third in the West for another day.

“It’s kind of fun, it’s kind of nerve-racking, but the message in here – what we keep telling each other – is we control where we go,” Stars forward Adam Burish said. “We control whether we are going to make it or not, and that’s what you want this time of the year.”

The Stars have won two of three games the Canucks, who are the second seed in the West and are three points behind St. Louis in the race for first overall in the conference.

“It’s big. We want the points and we want to beat the Canucks,” said Burish. “The most important thing is finding ways to win games and not losing ground. You win a game you stay in third, you lose a game and you’re in eight, maybe ninth place every night. That’s just how it feels. It’s just controlling what we can, winning games.”

Mark Fistric (abdominal strain), Radek Dvorak (ankle) and Eric Nystrom (leg) are all out tonight. Only Fistric is skating.

Kari Lehtonen gets the start in goal for the Stars.

Roberto Luongo is expected to start in goal for the Canucks.

The Stars will go with basically the same lineup as last game, although it appears they’ll move Tomas Vincour up to the second line and put Burish on the third line. Here’s the Stars’ projected lineup.