By Kris Smith
The Stars are currently winless through their first five Elite League fixtures, after picking up three wins and one overtime loss in six Challenge Cup games, but now take on the Panthers who have also struggled to find form lately.
When they met in Nottingham, Dundee fell behind quickly as Adam Brady had the hosts ahead inside 90 seconds, before Jeremy Welsh and Brett Welychka moved the Panthers into a 3-0 lead before the end of the first period.
Tanner Sorenson then extended the lead to 4-0 in the second session and in the third, Craig Puffer made it 5-0, but the Stars then began to mount their comeback.
Although it was too late as Fabrizio Ricci and Elijiah Barriga netted inside the final 10 minutes and Welsh killed Dundee’s momentum with his second and Nottingham’s sixth goal of the evening.
Both teams come into this clash desperately needing a win after pointless weekends, with the Panthers losing 5-1 to Cardiff Devils and 3-1 to Fife Flyers, while the Stars went down 7-1 to Belfast Giants and 5-0 to Sheffield Steelers.
Dundee still have a few injury concerns despite the return of Craig Garrigan and Kris Inglis to the line-up last weekend, as defenseman Colin Joe and forwards, Ben Sokay and Toms Rutkis all remain doubtful.
Discussing how he plans to snap his side’s run of poor form, Stars Head Coach, Jeff Mason said: “We are putting a heavy focus on our defensive play, it has not been good enough.
“We have to be more solid defensively as a five-man unit and that starts with puck support, making smatter plays with the puck and just hard work.
“Defence is all about effort and detail, and we need to work on that and it all starts from there as good offence starts with good defence.
“If you work hard to come back in your zone, shut plays down and you get a break on the rush, is when you get possession and start to generate offence.
“So, it starts with cleaning up our d-zone and that is putting in a lot of effort and detailed work, then we build from there.”
Switching his focus to tonight’s home match, Mason continued:“It is important for us to take advantage of our home games, our form at home has been poor and certainly, it is time for us to give the fans something to cheer about and get them off their seats but for us right now, we are a team that lacks confidence.
“So, if we can clean up some of our decision making, then I think it will help give us confidence and there have been different times over the last few games, where we have played well and we need to find a way to capitalise.
“There were moments in the first periods of both of those games last weekend where we had good chances and if we find a way to put the puck in the net, then maybe the game starts to take a different turn and we feel better.
“We need to get out in front of games, because we cannot be chasing games constantly and it takes more energy to do that, so we have to get off to a good start and find ways to generate ‘Grade-A’ scoring chances that lead to goals and continue to build from that, by putting in a full 60-minute effort.”
Dundonian defenseman, Kris Inglis then added: “Things have been tough at the moment but the atmosphere in the dressing room is still quite positive, because we know can turn it around.
“I do not think our performance against Nottingham last time was indicative of how we can play these guys, so we have had some good practices this week and worked on some new systems.
“So, if we stay focused, work hard and execute things the way we have done this week then it should be a good game tonight.”
Face-off is at 7:30pm.