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At the Rink: Wild at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars host the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center on Friday in a game featuring teams on opposite ends of the Central Division spectrum.

Dallas (9-9-4) has won three straight, but the Stars are 0-5-2 against the Central, a mark defenseman Trevor Daley knows needs improving.

"You want to put yourself in position to make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs, and you make the playoffs by being good in your division, so yeah, they're big games," Daley said.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff hopes to keep his forward lines and defensive pairs identical from a 3-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

However, center Colton Sceviour, who had been skating on the right side of the third line alongside left wing Antoine Roussel and center Cody Eakin, missed the morning skate on Friday because of illness.

Dallas recalled left wing Curtis McKenzie from Texas of the American Hockey League on Friday morning and McKenzie will replace Sceviour in the lineup if he is unable to play.

Ruff termed Sceviour a game-time decision, but should McKenzie play, Ruff has no reservations about plugging him into his third line.

"He's good on the walls. I like the way he goes to the net. He's played physical for us. He's done a lot of good things," Ruff said. "He plays a hard game for us and fits right in."

This is the third time McKenzie has been recalled from the AHL. He has one assist in nine games for Dallas this season.

Goalie Kari Lehtonen will start a ninth consecutive game for Dallas.

Minnesota (12-9-0), which lost 4-0 to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, is 5-0-0 against the Central.

The Wild have already beaten Dallas twice this month, 4-1 at home on Nov. 1 and again two weeks later in Dallas, 2-1 on Nov. 15.

Minnesota has held in check the Stars top-line duo of captain Jamie Benn, second on the team with 20 points (12 assists) and center Tyler Seguin, who continues to lead the NHL with 17 goals.

Neither Benn, Seguin nor center Jason Spezza, who leads Dallas with 15 assists and has seen time on the first and second lines, has a point against the Wild this season, a trend Minnesota coach Mike Yeo wants to see continue.

"We've gone into the games with a high respect level for that line, but also the team," Yeo said. "If we're doing a job against one line and not ready to do the job against the other, then that's not going to work. We have to play the game a certain way and we need everybody ready to do it."

Yeo is keeping his forward lines and defensive pairs intact from that loss to the Kings with one exception. In his third defensive pairing, it appears Jonas Brodin, who has missed the past seven games with the mumps, will return with Matt Dumba likely scratched.

"I've never been that sick before," Brodin said. "I was pretty bad, but now I feel better and in good shape."

Darcy Kuemper will start a second straight game in goal for the Wild.

Here are the projected lineups:


Zach PariseMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Jason ZuckerMikko KoivuThomas Vanek

Nino NiederreiterCharlie CoyleErik Haula

Ryan CarterKyle BrodziakJustin Fontaine

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Keith BallardJonas Brodin

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Stu Bickel, Matt Dumba.

Injured: Matt Cooke (hip).


Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Eaves

Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselCody EakinColton Sceviour

Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerTravis Moen

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Trevor DaleyJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Jordie Benn, Curtis McKenzie.

Injured: Ryan Garbutt (suspension), Patrik Nemeth (arm), Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin).

Status report: Brodin last played on Nov. 11 at the New Jersey Devils. … Garbutt received a two-game suspension Thursday for kneeing Edmonton Oilers center Taylor Hall in the third period of a 3-2 win on Tuesday. … Sceviour was replacing Garbutt on the Stars third line.

Who's hot: Parise has seven points (five goals) over the past nine games. … Seguin has 10 goals in the past nine games.

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