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At the Rink: Flames at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Calgary Flames' current six-game winning streak started on Dec. 1 when the Flames defeated the Dallas Stars 4-3 in a shootout at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

But Flames coach Bob Hartley knows that victory carries little if any weight when the Flames and Stars meet again on Thursday at American Airlines Center (8:30 p.m. ET; SNF, FS-SW).

"I think that was a turnaround win for us," Hartley said. "The guys competed hard, but having said this I think tonight is a totally different challenge. [Dallas] is a team that is very dangerous offensively, starting from their back end looking at the entire lineup, so we'll have to make sure that we don't let them get started right from their own zone. Our puck pursuit, our decisions with the puck will be vital in tonight's game."

Calgary (14-14-2) last played on Tuesday, a 2-1 win at the Nashville Predators, the Flames' lone road win during their current streak.

In fact, Calgary faces Dallas looking for consecutive road wins for the first time this season.

Hartley held an optional morning skate Thursday. Goalie Karri Ramo was first off the ice and will start a second consecutive game.

Hartley is making one change to his forward lines, replacing Michael Frolik, who sustained an upper-body injury at Nashville and did not travel to Dallas, with Josh Jooris on the third line centered by Mikael Backlund. His defensive pairs remain the same from the win against the Predators.

Dallas (23-6-2) defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on Tuesday, making the Stars 11-3-2 at home. Their 24 points at home are fourth-best in the NHL.

However, coach Lindy Ruff wasn't pleased with how the Stars played against the Blue Jackets, especially their poor start, so he made that a focus during the morning skate.

"We've tried a little different procedure this morning, changed up meetings and tightened up our morning routine a little bit, focused on what we're going to do in those first 10 minutes and see if we can execute," Ruff said. "I think we all realize we were disappointed in where we're at in our first 10 minutes the other night. Some of the stuff we did with the puck was some of the stuff that leads to the other team getting a little edge on you, so we're going to clean that up."

Dallas is 4-1-1 since that shootout loss in Calgary, but Ruff hopes the Stars haven't forgotten that disappointing road result.

"No, you can't put it completely behind you, it left a bad taste in your mouth. Obviously, we had to move on from playing a pretty poor third period," Ruff said. "We focused on tonight's game, which has a little different feel this time."

Ruff is keeping his forward lines and defensive pairs identical from the end of the Columbus game. Goalie Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice Thursday and will start a second consecutive game.

Here are the projected lineups:


Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanDavid Jones

Sam BennettMarkus GranlundJiri Hudler

Mason RaymondMikael BacklundJosh Jooris

Michael FerlandMatt StajanJoe Colborne

Mark GiordanoTJ Brodie

Kris RussellDougie Hamilton

Deryk EngellandDennis Wideman

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Injured: Lance Bouma (broken fibula), Michael Frolik (upper body)

Scratched: Brandon Bollig, Ladislav Smid


Jamie BennCody Eakin - Tyler Seguin

Valeri Nichushkin - Jason SpezzaPatrick Sharp

Antoine RousselMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky

Colton Sceviour - Vernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Patrik Nemeth - Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Injured: none

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Travis Moen, Jamie Oleksiak

Status report: Hartley said there is currently no update on Frolik. … Lehtonen is starting back-to-back home games for the second time this season. That previously happened on Nov. 12 against the Winnipeg Jets, a 6-3 win, and on Nov. 14 against the Minnesota Wild, a 6-3 win. Lehtonen made 57 saves over those two starts.

Who's hot: Brodie is currently on a career-long seven-game point streak (six assists), which began on Nov. 28 at the San Jose Sharks. … Calgary has won 10 straight games in December, dating back to the Flames' last December loss, 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 20, 2014 at the Vancouver Canucks. … Jamie Benn has joined Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks as the only two members of the 2007 NHL Draft class to reach 400 career points. Benn has 25 points (13 assists) in 21 games against the Flames. … The Stars have gotten points in nine of their past 11 home games against the Flames.

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