DALLAS -- With the Dallas Stars on a four-game winless streak heading into a matchup at American Airlines Center on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, Stars coach Lindy Ruff is keeping things simple.
“For me, it comes down to compete level,” Ruff said. “We haven’t won enough 1-on-1s and our compete [level] has to be better.”
Dallas, which is starting a three-game home stand, lost all three games of its most recent road trip and was outscored 15-7. The Stars have also allowed five goals in three straight games and lost the previous game to those, 5-4 in a shootout against Minnesota
Montreal is concluding a four-game road trip after losing 4-3 Friday at the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ruff knows anytime a team is on a back-to-back, jumping on it early is key.
“Again, [we need to] win our battles, frustrate them. If we can make sure we get the puck in deep when it needs to go in deep and get above it and make them come through us, it’ll be real hard on them,” Ruff said.
Ruff completely shuffled his lines at the morning skate Saturday, putting out a top line of left wing and captain Jamie Benn, center Tyler Seguin and right wing Colton Sceviour.
Right wing Ales Hemsky, who was on the ice late with rookie defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, appears to be a healthy scratch for the second time this season.
Hemsky was previously scratched on Nov. 13 at the Los Angeles Kings.
Ruff wouldn’t comment on Hemsky’s status other than to say: “Ales is available to play tonight.”
Ruff made one change to his defensive pairings as well. Jamie Oleksiak will play in the third pairing alongside John Klingberg with Jokipakka being scratched.
Goalie Kari Lehtonen will start for Dallas.
Montreal did not skate Saturday morning but after losing center Lars Eller to an upper-body injury at Chicago, Montreal recalled right wing Sven Andrighetto from Hamilton of the American Hockey League.
Andrighetto had 18 points (nine goals) in 21 games and could make his NHL debut as part of the Canadiens third line alongside left wing Jiri Sekac and right wing Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.
In goal, Montreal coach Michel Therrien figures to go with Dustin Tokarski since Carey Price has yet to play the second end of a back-to-back this season.
Here are the projected lineups:
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Dale Weise
Alex Galchenyuk – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Sven Andrighetto - Jiri Sekac – PA Parenteau
Brandon Prust – Manny Malhotra – Eric Tangradi
Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Sergei Gonchar – Alexei Emelin
Tom Gilbert – Mike Weaver
Scratched: Bryan Allen, Drayson Bowman.
Injured: Lars Eller (upper body).
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Colton Sceviour
Curtis McKenzie – Jason Spezza – Erik Cole
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler - Travis Moen
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Jamie Oleksiak – John Klingberg
Scratched: Ales Hemsky, Jyrki Jokipakka.
Injured: Patrick Eaves (ankle), Patrik Nemeth (arm), Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin).
Status report: Gonchar will play his first game against Dallas since being traded to the Canadiens on Nov. 11. … McKenzie returns to the ice after being a healthy scratch Thursday at the Detroit Red Wings. … Moen, who will appear in his 700th game, is facing Montreal for the first time since the Canadiens traded him to Dallas for Gonchar on Nov. 11.
Who’s hot: Galchenyk is on a four-game point streak. … Seguin continues to lead the NHL with 19 goals.