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At the Rink: Flames at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Calgary Flames and the Dallas Stars played last Wednesday at Scotiabank Saddledome, a game Dallas won 4-3 in a shootout.

At American Airlines Center on Monday, the Flames and Stars face off in another matchup with huge implications for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (8:30 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-SW).

"I know it sounds cliché but that's going to be probably my favorite line until the end of this season, is it's one game at a time," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "There's six games left this season. We need to win them."

Calgary (41-28-7, 89 points) defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2 at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday. The Flames are third in the Pacific Division, two points behind the second-place Vancouver Canucks.

Dallas (37-29-10, 84 points) defeated Vancouver 4-3 in overtime at Rogers Arena on Saturday and finished its western Canada road trip 2-1-0.

But defenseman Trevor Daley, who returned Saturday from an 11-game absence because of a lower-body injury, knows the Stars essentially must win each of their final six games to have a chance at making the postseason for a second straight season. Dallas is six points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

"We've got to win every game," Daley said. "We are going to take it one game, one shift, one period at a time. Our backs are against the wall. We've got to win every night. There's no holding back. We've just got to go."

Since the Flames are on a back-to-back, they held an optional morning skate. Hartley announced during a media session at the team hotel that goalie Jonas Hiller, who made 27 saves against Nashville on Sunday, will start again Monday.

"[Hiller] feels good. I talked to him last night, talked to him this morning. He's played many big games," Hartley said.

Hartley said he plans to keep his forward lines and defensive pairings identical from the win against the Predators but said there might be one minor tweak to his line combinations.

"Yeah, I have to look at one situation," Hartley said. "We have one player that is kind of borderline. We'll re-evaluate the situation, so there could be one change. But apart from this, I expect to be very close to the same lineup."

That player Hartley is referring to could be center Paul Byron, who missed the Nashville game with a lower-body injury, or center Markus Granlund, out Sunday because of illness. Hartley wouldn't specify which player he was talking about.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff is keeping his forward lines and defensive pairings identical from their overtime victory at Vancouver.

"They [Calgary] bounced back after a tough loss in [Minnesota] and we bounced back after a tough loss in Edmonton," Ruff said. "We know where we're at. They know where they're at and it should be a real good contest."

Goalie Kari Lehtonen will start his 11th consecutive game for the Stars.

Here are the projected lineups:

FLAMES

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanJiri Hudler

Lance BoumaMikael BacklundDavid Jones

Mason RaymondJoe ColborneJosh Jooris

Michael FerlandMatt StajanDrew Shore

Deryk EngellandTJ Brodie

Kris RussellDennis Wideman

Raphael DiazDavid Schlemko

Jonas Hiller

Karri Ramo

Scratched: Brandon Bollig, Corey Potter

Injured: Paul Byron (lower body), Mark Giordano (biceps), Markus Granlund (illness), Ladislav Smid (upper body)

STARS

Jamie BennCody EakinTyler Seguin

Patrick EavesJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Ryan GarbuttVernon FiddlerAntoine Roussel

Curtis McKenzieShawn HorcoffBrett Ritchie

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Patrik NemethTrevor Daley

Jyrki JokipakkaJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Travis Moen, Colton Sceviour

Injured: None

Status report: Forward Valeri Nichushkin (hip) will play game two of his three-game conditioning assignment with Texas of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. … Hiller is starting back-to-back games for the first time since early March.

Who's hot: Hudler has 21 points (12 assists) in 14 games in March to lead all NHL skaters. … Seguin has points in his past three home games and in five of his past six games overall.

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