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Chasing playoff spot, Stars focused on improvement

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- After defeating the Nashville Predators 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday at American Airlines Center to move two points ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes for the second Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with three games to play, the Dallas Stars have shifted their focus to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It's a game rescheduled from March 10, when Stars center Rich Peverley collapsed on the Dallas bench early in the first period due to a cardiac event.

Columbus and Dallas will play a full 60 minutes, but the Blue Jackets will begin with the 1-0 lead they held when the game was halted.

"There's games that I feel the way we've played in the first period we're down 1-0, but it's the first time officially we're down 1-0," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of trailing from the opening puck drop.

Dallas (39-29-11, 89 points) did not have a morning skate Tuesday, but it appears Ruff will keep his forward lines and defense pairings identical from the win Tuesday, one that officially eliminated the Predators from playoff contention.

Ruff would not commit to a starting goalie against Columbus, but Kari Lehtonen likely will make his 11th straight start.

One point of emphasis during a morning meeting Ruff had with the team was reducing the 21 giveaways Dallas had against Nashville.

"We watched our video and have gone over what we have to do better as a team," Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon said. "Nashville skated really hard. Every team is desperate for points and that means there are going to be some big plays out there and we just have to be approaching the game [Wednesday] with how important puck management is."

Columbus did not skate after winning 3-2 in overtime against Phoenix on Tuesday. Forward Nathan Horton, who scored the Blue Jackets' goal March 10, did not travel to Dallas after sustaining a lower-body injury in the win against the Coyotes.

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky started Tuesday for Columbus and is likely to start again.

Here are the projected lineups:


Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Matt Frattin

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Blake Comeau - Artem Anisimov - Mark Letestu

Corey Tropp - Derek MacKenzie - Jack Skille

Fedor Tyutin - James Wisniewski

Jack Johnson - Nick Schultz

Ryan Murray - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Jared Boll, Tim Erixon, Dalton Prout

Injured: Nick Foligno (lower body), Nathan Horton (lower body), Nikita Nikitin (lower body), R.J. Umberger (upper body)


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Shawn Horcoff - Vernon Fiddler - Colton Sceviour

Erik Cole - Dustin Jeffrey - Alex Chiasson

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Jordie Benn - Brenden Dillon

Patrik Nemeth - Sergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Tim Thomas

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Aaron Rome

Injured: Rich Peverley (heart), Ray Whitney (lower body)

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