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Preview: Coyotes at Stars

Radim Vrbata won't play for Arizona; Dallas opens season-ending three-game homestand

by Sean Shapiro / Correspondent

COYOTES (29-41-9) AT STARS (32-36-11)

8:30 p.m. ET; FS-A Plus, FS-SW+, NHL.TV


Coyotes team scope

Arizona Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata won't play because of a lower-body injury. Coach Dave Tippett said Vrbata is day to day and expects him to play again this season. Arizona will be playing its first game without defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who was granted a leave of absence after his mother passed away in Sweden. He will not return for the remainder of the season. "It was a struggle for him, I give him a ton of credit," Tippett said. "He was a true professional trying to get through it. But this week is the funeral and he left to go home. But you could tell that was on his mind a lot all year." Goalie Mike Smith will start after he made 34 saves in a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. The Coyotes are trying to match a season-high three-game winning streak. "It's about building and getting better for next season," defenseman Alex Goligoski said. "We need to take advantage of the games that we have to do that."


Stars team scope

The Dallas Stars begin a three-game homestand to close out the season after going 2-3-0 on a five-game road trip. "It was tough games, long road trip," forward Radek Faksa said. "It's nice to be back again and hopefully we'll finish the season with a good game at home and hopefully we'll win all three games." Goalie Antti Niemi is expected to make his second start in the past 11 games. Niemi's last win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 28. The Stars will shuffle their defense after a 6-3 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. Jamie Oleksiak will return after missing two games with a lower-body injury, while Stephen Johns will play after he was a healthy scratch in back-to-back games. Greg Pateryn and Patrik Nemeth will be the scratches. Forward Justin Dowling was sent to Texas of the American Hockey League on Monday but was recalled Tuesday and is expected to remain with Dallas for the rest of the season. "It's been a bit of a whirlwind, but it's a nice opportunity," Dowling said.


Coyotes projected lineup

Brendan Perlini -- Christian Dvorak -- Tobias Rieder

Max Domi -- Alexander Burmistrov -- Anthony Duclair

Jordan Martinook -- Josh Jooris -- Clayton Keller

Lawson Crouse -- Peter Holland -- Shane Doan

Zbynek Michalek -- Connor Murphy

Alex Goligoski -- Anthony DeAngelo

Jakob Chychrun -- Luke Schenn

Mike Smith

Louis Domingue

Scratched: Jamie McGinn, Teemu Pulkkinen, Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Injured: Kevin Connauton (upper body), Radim Vrbata (lower body)


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Cody Eakin -- Devin Shore

Remi Elie -- Tyler Seguin -- Brett Ritchie

Gemel Smith -- Radek Faksa -- Jason Spezza

Jason Dickinson -- Justin Dowling -- Adam Cracknell

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis -- Julius Honka

Jamie Oleksiak -- Stephen Johns

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Greg Pateryn

Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Antoine Roussel (hand), Curtis McKenzie (eye), Jiri Hudler (groin), Ales Hemsky (hip).


Status report

Coach Lindy Ruff said Hudler and Hemsky are done for the season.


Who's hot

Burmistrov has three goals in his past two games. … Goligoski has four points (one goal, three assists) during a four-game point streak. Spezza has three points (two goals, one assist) during a three-game point streak.

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