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Preview: Hurricanes at Stars

Staal expected back in the lineup for the Canes

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

DALLAS - The Carolina Hurricanes end their Mentors' Trip in Dallas with a cross-conference faceoff against the Stars.

The Hurricanes stormed back with two goals early in the third period in Florida to win the first game of the Mentors' Trip, 4-3.

Staal Expected Back

After missing 27 games with lingering concussion symptoms, Hurricanes center Jordan Staal is expected to return to the lineup on Saturday afternoon.

"I don't know how much better he's going to get practicing," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "It would be a big boost to get him back."

"I'm excited to get back out there," said Staal, who was one of 10 skaters who practiced in Dallas on Friday. "I think I've gotten to the point where I've practiced hard enough where getting into game shape is getting into a game. I'm excited to get back and hopefully help the team get more W's."

Video: Brind'Amour: "When he's ready, we're all in"

It's yet to be determined how the lineup will shake out with Staal back in the mix.

PROJECTED LINEUP

"Everyone has been contributing. When he's ready to come back, he's back," Brind'Amour said. "He's been a huge part of our club. … The stuff we're really struggling at is right up his alley."

"Around this time of year, the speed has been bumped up more. It's going to be a little bit of a catch-up," Staal said. "I'm going to do my best, and I think I've prepared really well."

Mentors Looking On

The Hurricanes' mentors cheered the team to a come-from-behind win in South Florida on Thursday. Now, the gleeful bunch has a chance to see the Canes, who sit on the outside looking in of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference once again, grab four of a possible four points on this brief, two-game road trip.

"Hopefully we get to put on a good show for him and the rest of the dads," Staal said. "Get four points and get out of here."

The Last Meeting

The Hurricanes and Stars last met just a week ago in Raleigh. The Canes came away with a 3-0 victory, with Petr Mrazek making 33 saves in his third shutout of the season. Justin Williams, Brock McGinn and Micheal Ferland each tallied for the Canes, who found a way to win despite not being the better team for much of the game.

"They really took it to us," Brind'Amour said. "We know where we messed up and what we're expecting. We know what they're all about. … They're playing for their lives, too. It's going to be a tough game."

The Opposition

Saturday afternoon's game is the last of a three-game homestand that opened up following the last meeting between these two clubs a week ago. Nashville bested Dallas on Tuesday before the Stars halted the St. Louis Blues' 11-game winning streak with a 5-2 win on Thursday. Ben Bishop, who missed two weeks with an upper-body injury, is expected to return to the crease as early as this weekend.


ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Big Man Returns

It's been a long time coming, but Jordan Staal is finally back in the lineup. The Canes can thrive around the elements he brings to the game.

2. Tighten Up

The Hurricanes didn't have their best when they last faced the Stars. The team will need to tighten up and play its game, especially now on the road against this talented team.

3. Find a Way

In the end, good teams find a way to win. The Canes did it against Dallas a week ago and did it again in Florida on Thursday. It's simple: find a way.


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