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Patrick Sharp to return for Stars on Saturday

Forward missed 12 games because of concussion

by Sean Shapiro / Correspondent

FRISCO, TEXAS -- Left wing Patrick Sharp will return to the lineup Saturday when the Dallas Stars host the Florida Panthers (8 p.m. ET; FS-SW, FS-F, NHL.TV).

"Cleared to go and indicated that he's up and ready to play," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Friday. "For me there is an opportunity to get him in there tomorrow. Anytime you can put Sharp, a healthy Sharp, back in the lineup, your lineup is going to get better."

Sharp has missed 12 consecutive games and 26 total with concussion-like symptoms this season. He was injured against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 20 on a hit by defenseman Brayden McNabb in the second period of a 4-3 overtime loss.

He missed 14 games and returned to the lineup Nov. 19. He played seven games before the symptoms returned following a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 1.

Sharp didn't talk to the media Friday, but in November, prior to making his first return to the lineup, he described his symptoms as a hopeless feeling.

Video: DAL@NSH: Sharp nets long-range wrister for SHG

"You break a bone, you have a time frame, you know when it's going to heal," Sharp said. "Type of injury that I had, you hear some scary stories."

In practice Friday, Sharp was skating on a line with Lauri Korpikoski and Devin Shore, taking the spot Patrick Eaves had in a 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. If the practice lines stick, Jiri Hudler or Adam Cracknell likely would be a healthy scratch Saturday.

Ruff said he doesn't plan to limit Sharp's minutes.

"Our top line has been getting their minutes, but after that the balance has been pretty good from 10 to 14 minutes," Ruff said. "I would anticipate that's where he'd be at."

Forward Antoine Roussel practiced Friday but isn't ready to return because of an upper-body injury sustained in practice Dec. 20.

Ruff also said goalie Kari Lehtonen will play Saturday after he left the game Thursday in the third period and went through the NHL-mandated concussion protocol.

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