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At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars have struggled on the power play in their past seven games, so coach Lindy Ruff wants to get back to basics Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at American Airlines Center (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-O, FS-SW).

The Stars power play is third in the NHL (22.9 percent), but aside from going 2-for-3 in a 6-5 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 8, they're 0-for-21 with the man advantage since a 3-2 shootout win against the Vancouver Canucks on November 27, a game where the power play was 2-for-5.

"It needs to get quicker and we need to get more attack," Ruff said. "Beginning of the year, we were getting pucks inside, we were getting people inside, we were looking for bounces and redirections and second opportunities. Right now, we're a little bit of a power play that's looking for the perfect play again. Our best chances are really kind of the highlight-reel type of plays"

The Stars (22-6-2), who still owns the League's best record, are looking to bounce back from a 3-0 loss at the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the first time they were shut out this season. They are the only team yet to lose consecutive games.

"Certainly there's a sense of urgency inside our locker room, within the organization," Stars forward Patrick Sharp said. "We know how competitive the whole League is really but especially our division. We can't afford to have any bad runs. Not very happy with the way we played last game, but that's behind us and ready to play well at home."

Ruff tweaked his fourth line during morning skate Tuesday when he placed Travis Moen, a healthy scratch the past three games, alongside Vernon Fiddler and Ales Hemsky. His rationale for putting Moen on the ice for the first time since Dec. 4 at the Edmonton Oilers is simple.

"I just think that he can add a physical presence," Ruff said. "We've played well when [Moen] has been in the lineup and he's worked incredibly hard. I want to get him in and play him, and see if he can add a little bit on the physical side for us."

The rest of Dallas' forward lines remain intact from the loss to the Blues. Ruff also made one change to his defensive pairs, skating Patrik Nemeth alongside Jordie Benn on the third pair, making Jamie Oleksiak a scratch.

Goalie Kari Lehtonen will start for the first time since Dec. 8 against Carolina, a game where he was pulled in the third period.

Columbus (11-18-3) will play the second game of a back-to-back after losing 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. Five players, forwards Jared Boll and Rene Bourque (upper body), defenseman Kevin Connauton, and goaltenders Joonas Korpisalo and Curtis McElhinney skated Tuesday. McElhinney is expected to start for the Blue Jackets, who have won four straight games in Dallas.

Here are the projected lineups:


Boone JennerRyan JohansenBrandon Saad

Scott HartnellAlexander WennbergCam Atkinson

Matt CalvertBrandon DubinskyNick Foligno

Gregory CampbellWilliam KarlssonDavid Clarkson

David Savard - Andrew Bodnarchuk

Jack Johnson - Ryan Murray

Fedor TyutinKevin Connauton

Curtis McElhinney

Joonas Korpisalo

Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (lower body), Rene Bourque (upper body), Cody Goloubef (jaw), Markus Hannikainen (shoulder)

Scratched: Jared Boll, Dalton Prout


Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Travis Moen - Vernon FiddlerAles Hemsky

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Patrik Nemeth - Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Injured: None

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak, Colton Sceviour

Status report: Jokipakka is likely a healthy scratch for the fifth time in the past six games. … Nemeth returns after being a healthy scratch the past two games.

Who's hot: Columbus has killed off 62 of 71 opposing power plays (87.3 percent) since the start of November. … Seguin has a seven-game home point streak (10 assists). … Sharp has points in 10 of Dallas' 11 home games this season.

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