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PRE-GAME REPORT: Devils at Stars

Devils look to rebound from their trip-opening loss in Nashville with a win in Dallas

by Marc Ciampa / NewJerseyDevils.com

After opening their four-game road trip with a loss in Nashville, the Devils have an opportunity to bounce back with a win tonight against the Dallas Stars.

You can watch the game on MSG+ or listen on the Devils Hockey Network. 

Video: DEVILS:60 | Devils at Stars

Read the game preview below and check back for lineup updates, videos and more.

INSIDE THE DEVILS

Devils practice in Dallas, Coleman's homecoming and more news and notes from the past few days. 

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE DEVILS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

DALLAS, TX - The New Jersey Devils recalled forward Mike McLeod from Binghamton this morning and he skated at the team's optional morning skate but he won't play tonight. 

"There'll be no changes except for (Blackwood) going in. Nico's still not available, so we're going to go with the same four lines and six D."

The forward lines and defense pairings will be: 

Hall - Hughes - Palmieri
Coleman - Zajac - Gusev
Boqvist - Zacha - Bratt
Wood - Rooney - Simmonds

Greene - Subban
Severson - Vatanen
Butcher - Mueller

As for McLeod, Nasreddine said he will remain with the team for the rest of this road trip.

"He's been good down there. he brings energy, a lot of speed, tough to play against. He can be physical, goes to the hard areas," he began. "So those are all this stuff we've talked about for a week now and he brings those elements. He deserved the call up."

The Hischier illness has dragged on longer than the team expected. He was placed on injured reserve retroactive to December 5 which means he could be back in the lineup on Friday against Colorado. 

"With Nico, we never expected from the illness that he'd be out this long. So, right now it's all about him getting better and that's the focus and he's not ready for tonight."

Nasreddine stressed it wasn't long term. 

"He's here today and he's getting a little workout in, so he's definitely improving compared to last night."

READY FOR DALLAS

The Devils have their work cut out for them, playing a team that's 16-4-2 in its last 22 games.

"They're pretty deep team. Really good defense who transition really good. They've been playing really good hockey, but I tell our team right now where we're at, it's more about us and what we do than it is about the other team."

The biggest news coming from the 'other team' is that head coach Jim Montgomery was relieved of his duties this morning in a surprising move. 

Stars General Manager Jim Nill released a statement with the announcement:

"The Dallas Stars expect all of our employees to act with integrity and exhibit professional behavior while working for and representing our organization. This decision was made due to unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League." 

COLEMAN'S RETURN

Blake Coleman spoke again this morning of his return to his home state. 

"I certainly get a little excited to play them. I know a lot of guys and I train with them in the summers. It's fun to battle against them and compete like that. But, I'm still looking for my first win here in Dallas, so let's make tonight the first."

-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com

PREVIEW

DEVILS (9-15-5) at STARS (17-11-3)

TV: 8:30 PM ET; Televised on MSG+

Head-to-Head:

Tonight's game is the first of two meetings between the two teams this season. 

Last season, the Devils won 3-0 in New Jersey and the Stars won 5-4 in Dallas. Travis Zajac led the Devils with three assists in two games. Alex Radulov had three assists in two games for the Stars.

Devils team scope:

The Devils have dropped their last five games (0-4-1) with the last win coming back on November 28 against Montreal.

Taylor Hall continues to lead the way for the team in scoring with 25 points through 29 games. Hall's shooting percentage this season is a career low at 5.6%. If he was shooting his career average of 10.5%, Hall would be on pace for a 30-goal season. 

With 11 goals through 29 games, Kyle Palmieri is on pace for a 31-goal campaign which would be the best he's had in his career. He is currently shooting at 16.2% which is 4% above his career average.

Stars team scope:

The Stars opened the season with only one win in its first nine games. Since that time, they've been one of the hottest teams in the NHL with a record of 16-4-2. 

Dallas is coming off a win of 3-1 against the New York Islanders. Prior to that, the Stars were 0-3-1 meaning that they had a stretch after their 1-7-1 start where they went 14-1-1.

Tyler Seguin leads the Stars in scoring with 23 points and six goals through 31 games. Like his fellow 2010 draftee Taylor Hall, Seguin is shooting a career low 5.3%. Miro Heiskenen is second on the team with 21 points in 31 games. He had 33 points in 82 games last season, his rookie campaign. 

By the Numbers:

Like the Devils, the Stars' worst period is the third. They've allowed 18 goals in the first period, 21 in the second and 34 in the third. The Stars are 13-1-2 when leading after two periods and 11-1-0 when leading after the first.

Hall has seven goals and 18 points in 22 games all-time against the Stars. Joe Pavelski leads all Dallas players with nine goals and 18 points in 19 career games.

Injury Updates:

Devils - Matt Tennyson is out; Nico Hischier (illness) is questionable

Stars - Martin Hanzal (back) and Stephen Johns (head) are on IR.

-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com

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