DALLAS -- It has been nearly six full years since the Dallas Stars last hosted a Stanley Cup Playoff game at American Airlines Center.
So when the Stars take the ice Monday for Game 3 of their best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series against the Anaheim Ducks (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN, KDOC, TXA 21), a series they currently trail 2-0, they are expecting a raucous atmosphere.
Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski knows a thing or two about playing in front of a great home crowd in the postseason from his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he was part of their Stanley Cup-winning team in 2009, and he expects a similar vibe Monday evening in downtown Dallas.
"Can't wait to see what it is going to be like. It should be fun, especially early. I'm sure it is going to be real intense," Goligoski said.
Ruff will keep his defensive pairings the same from earlier in the series. Goalie Kari Lehtonen will start.
With these changes, it appears veteran left wing Erik Cole, who has been playing up and down the lineup in the series and was on the second line alongside Eakin and Nichushkin on Sunday, could be scratched. Cole was one of the last Dallas players to leave the ice Monday morning.
"Probably just getting some extra work, I guess, he hasn't played a lot," Ruff said of Cole.
But no matter how he puts together his lines, Ruff knows Game 3 represents a great opportunity for the Stars to start to swing the series in their favor, especially in a building where Dallas won eight of their last 10 in the regular season.
"I think this building will be electric," Ruff said. "Anytime I've been in a home playoff game coaching, that first game, the energy in the building before you start the game is absolutely tremendous, and I expect that tonight. Our fans have been able to lift us down the stretch. From the Minnesota game (when Mike Modano's number was retired) to the St. Louis game (where Dallas clinched a playoff spot), there's been tremendous energy. And I'm looking forward to our guys playing in front of our fans because that's another special moment in the playoffs."
Here are the projected lineups: