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At the Rink: Wild at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- After winning each game of a two-game road trip and snapping a seven-game winless streak, the Dallas Stars shift their focus toward winning on home ice for the first time since Oct. 21 on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center.

"Well, I'd like to start off well [against the Wild]," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said "This still is a little bit new to me, where you'll fly back. We thought getting a practice [Friday], we don't have any more practices planned now for three, four days, which is strange. It's just going to be play."

Ruff is keeping his defensive pairs and line combinations almost the same from a 2-0 win at the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, when goaltender Kari Lehtonen earned his first shutout of the season.

There is one change on the third line, where right wing Ales Hemsky returns after being a healthy scratch against the Kings for the first time this season.

Hemsky has one assist through 15 games.

"I think there's some frustration on his part obviously," Ruff said. "Based on production, he was the guy that had to come out. And I think if I'm going to hold guys accountable, if you're not producing you won't be playing much."

Neither Minnesota nor Dallas skated Saturday but Lehtonen will start against the Wild.

Ruff said an announcement is pending on second-year right wing Valeri Nichushkin, who has missed much of the season with a hip/groin issue.

"I think I'll let the team handle that one because I'm not totally up with all the medical stuff on it," Ruff said. "There is one and I think that'll come out either [Saturday] or [Sunday]. He's been evaluated again and we'll have an announcement on it."

The Wild defeated the Buffalo Sabres 6-3 on Tuesday and with Minnesota in the first game of a back-to-back, coach Mike Yeo will start goalie Darcy Kuemper.

Defensemen Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella are each sidelined due to illness, so there will be some shuffling at the blue line.

Wild left wing Zach Parise (concussion) did not travel to Dallas.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jason ZuckerMikko KoivuJason Pominville

Nino NiederreiterMikael GranlundCharlie Coyle

Thomas VanekErik HaulaJordan Schroeder

Ryan CarterKyle BrodziakJustin Fontaine

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Matt DumbaNate Prosser

Keith BallardJonathon Blum

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Stu Bickel, Justin Falk, Stephane Veilleux.

Injured: Jonas Brodin (illness), Matt Cooke (lower body), Josh Harding (ankle), Zach Parise (concussion), Marco Scandella (illness).


Jamie BennJason SpezzaTyler Seguin

Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt

Curtis McKenzieVernon FiddlerAles Hemsky

Erik ColeShawn HorcoffColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Jordie BennTrevor Daley

Brenden DillonJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Travis Moen.

Injured: Patrick Eaves (lower body), Patrik Nemeth (right arm laceration), Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin).

Status report: Moen, acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens earlier in the week, skated with the Stars on Friday but won't play Saturday. His debut should come Sunday at the Chicago Blackhawks.

Who's hot: Garbutt has goals in back-to-back games for Dallas, each unassisted and game-winners. … Seguin, who leads the Stars in goals (12) and points (22), has a four-game point streak.

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