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Russell could debut with Stars

Defenseman waiting on work visa; Predators' Weber could return

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

STARS (38-19-7) at PREDATORS (31-21-11) 

TV: 8 p.m. ET; FS-SW+, FS-TN, NHL.TV 

NASHVILLE -- Newly acquired Dallas Stars defenseman Kris Russell is in Nashville, but it is unclear if he will play against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

 

Russell was traded to the Stars by the Calgary Flames on Monday for defenseman Jryki Jokipakka, forward prospect Brett Pollock and a conditional second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. Russell said the experience has been a different one for him so far.

"It's been a bit of a whirlwind," Russell said. "I've never been in this situation to be the guy that was most likely going to get moved on the deadline, but I'm excited to be here now. It seems like a great group of guys in here, so I'm excited to get playing."

The Stars are waiting for Russell's work visas to be processed to determine if he'll be able to play against the Predators. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the chances of Russell being able to play are 50-50.

"I'm just going to prepare like I'm playing," Russell said. "If I hear different, then I'll deal with it. Just going like I'm going to play tonight so I don't change too much."

Nashville captain Shea Weber participated in a full practice Monday and took part in an optional morning skate Tuesday. It is unclear if he will play against Dallas.

The Predators have won four consecutive games and have earned at least one point in nine consecutive games (6-0-3). Forward Filip Forsberg, who has recorded a natural hat trick in two of his past three games, credits stronger defensive play for their recent success.

"I think that's the biggest thing for sure," Forsberg said. "We didn't play as good as we wanted defensively back in the start of [February], but we're just getting better and better the entire month defensively. Obviously that brings offense as well."

The Predators signed forward Miikka Salomaki to a two-year, $1.225 million contract Tuesday. Salomaki could have become a restricted free agent on July 1.

Here are the projected lineups:

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

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

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Travis Moen, Kris Russell
Injured: Patrick Eaves (illness)

PREDATORS
Calle Jarnkrok - Ryan Johansen - James Neal
Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Arvidsson
Miikka Salomaki - Paul Gaustad - Austin Watson

Roman Josi - Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis
Anthony Bitetto - Barret Jackman

Pekka Rinne
Carter Hutton

Scratched: Petter Granberg
Injured: Eric Nystrom (broken foot), Gabriel Bourque (upper body)

Status report: The Stars held an optional morning skate. … Lehtonen is expected to start for the Stars. … Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Moen is capable of playing but will have to be patient because of the way the fourth line is playing. … The Predators held an optional morning skate. … Rinne is expected to start.

Who's hot: Fiddler had one goal and one assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. … Forsberg has two hat tricks in his past three games and has 12 goals in his past 11 games.

 

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