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Bruins' Spooner questionable against Stars

Boston, Dallas juggle line combinations

by Steve Hunt / NHL.com Correspondent

BRUINS (31-21-6) at STARS (37-16-6)

TV: 8 p.m. ET; NESN, FS-SW, NHLN

DALLAS -- The Boston Bruins hope to finish their longest road trip of the season with a win against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Saturday.

Following a 2-0 loss at the Nashville Predators on Thursday, Boston is 3-2-0 on the trip and 19-7-3 on the road. But Bruins coach Claude Julien expects a much better performance against the Stars, who lead the Western Conference with 81 points, than what he saw two nights prior.

"I think the bottom line is we came on this road trip to have a winning road trip and to win tonight would be huge," Julien said. "We'd much prefer to be 4-2 [on the trip] than to be 3-3, so nothing changes from our mindset. You want to bounce back and have a good effort, so that's what we're looking for from our hockey club." 

Center Ryan Spooner missed the morning skate because of illness. Spooner, who had been centering Boston's third line alongside Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes, is questionable to play Saturday. 

With Spooner not skating, center Joonas Kemppainen moved from the fourth to the third line alongside Beleskey and Hayes. The fourth line will consist of Zac Rinaldo on the left, center Max Talbot and Landon Ferraro on the right. 

Bruins center David Krejci, who will center the second line alongside Loui Eriksson and David Pastrnak, will appear in his 600th NHL game. 

Julien also is making changes to his defensive pairings with Zach Trotman a likely scratch. Adam McQuaid will move from the second to the first pair alongside Zdeno Chara. The second pair consists of Torey Krug and Kevan Miller with the third pair Dennis Seidenberg and Joe Morrow.  

Goalie Tuukka Rask was first off the ice at morning skate and will start a fourth consecutive game for Boston. 

Dallas also heads into this game off a loss, 6-3 at the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday to end a three-game road trip 1-1-1. 

Stars coach Lindy Ruff made morning skate on Saturday optional, but in practice on Friday Ruff had shuffled his lines from the Arizona game. 

Dallas' top line consisted of captain Jamie Benn, second in the NHL with 66 points, center Tyler Seguin, third in the League with 31 goals and tied for third in the NHL with 65 points, and right wing Ales Hemsky.  

The second line was Mattias Janmark, Jason Spezza and Patrick Eaves, and the third consisted of Antoine Roussel, Cody Eakin and Patrick Sharp. The Stars fourth line was Valeri Nichushkin, Vernon Fiddler and Colton Sceviour.  

And with defenseman Jason Demers being minus-2 with 18 penalty minutes in eight games since the All-Star break, Ruff dropped Demers from his second to his third pair alongside Patrik Nemeth. Jordie Benn, who had been skating alongside Nemeth in the third pair, moves up to take Demers' place in the second pair with Johnny Oduya.  

"I'm working on getting his [Demers'] feet moving and that's doing some off-ice [work], doing some extra on ice [work]," Ruff said. "He came out of the All-Star break and I think he struggled a little bit. He got sick, which had an effect on him, obviously. I think that strength wise, it [being sick] hurt a little bit. You don't ever want to use that as an excuse, but now it's up to me to get him going." 

Goalie Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice at morning skate and will make his 24th start of the season. 

Here are the projected lineups: 

BRUINS

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Brett Connolly  
Loui Eriksson- David Krejci - David Pastrnak 
Matt Beleskey - Joonas Kemppainen - Jimmy Hayes 
Zac Rinaldo - Max Talbot - Landon Ferraro 

Zdeno Chara - Adam McQuaid 
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller 
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Morrow 

Tuukka Rask 
Jonas Gustavsson  

Injured: Chris Kelly (fractured femur), Ryan Spooner (illness). 
Scratched: Tyler Randell, Zach Trotman. 

STARS

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Ales Hemsky 
Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Patrick Eaves 
Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Patrick Sharp 
Valeri Nichushkin - Vernon Fiddler - Colton Sceviour 

Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg  
Johnny Oduya - Jordie Benn 
Patrik Nemeth - Jason Demers 

Kari Lehtonen 
Antti Niemi  

Injured: Travis Moen (lower body). 
Scratched: Radek Faksa, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak.  

Status report: Morrow was a healthy scratch for the past three games, Rinaldo for the past two. … Faksa is a healthy scratch for a second straight game, Jokipakka for a fifth straight and Oleksiak for a ninth straight. 

Who's hot: Eriksson has points in his past three games against the Stars, for whom he played before being traded to Boston in July 2013. … Rask has a 2.06 goals-against-average on the road. … Marchand has 28 goals this season, equaling his career high. … Hemsky has points in four of his past five games. … Klingberg needs one goal to equal his 11-goal total in his rookie season, a mark he reached in 65 games in 2014-15. … Janmark has 13 goals, tying him for seventh-most by a Stars rookie since the franchise relocated to Dallas in 1993.

 

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