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Preview: Stars at Canucks

Dallas could get Patrick Sharp back to end road trip against struggling Vancouver

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

STARS (6-6-3) at CANUCKS (5-9-1)

4 p.m. ET; SNP, FS-SW, NHL.TV

Stars team scope

The injury-riddled Dallas Stars are wrapping up a five-game road trip after winning consecutive games for the first time this season. Coming off an 8-2 loss against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, the Stars defeated the Calgary Flames 4-2 on Thursday and the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday despite missing centers Jason Spezza (lower body), Cody Eakin (knee) and Mattias Janmark (knee) and wings Patrick Sharp (concussion), Jiri Hudler (illness) and Alex Hemsky (hip). Sharp, who has missed 11 games, resumed skating this week and could return. "Getting closer," coach Lindy Ruff said after the morning skate Friday. Goalie Kari Lehtonen made 40 saves against the Oilers and stopped 69 of 73 shots starting back-to-back games for the first time since March 27 and 28, 2015, three months before the Stars signed Antti Niemi to a three-year contract. Niemi and Lehtonen split the back-to-back games last season and played a similar numbers of games overall (39 starts for Lehtonen; 43 for Niemi) but don't be surprised if Lehtonen makes a fourth-straight start. "We need a goaltender to get on a roll, and I think sometimes the more they play, the more comfortable they feel," Ruff said after the win in Edmonton.

Canucks team scope

The Vancouver Canucks return home after losing five of six games on a 12-day road trip and have one win in their past 11 games (1-9-1). The Canucks scored five goals to defeat the New York Rangers 5-3 on Tuesday but have averaged 1.3 goals per game in their 10 losses. "It's a tough league to score in, that's for sure," center Henrik Sedin said after practice Saturday. "I think we are on the right track. I think we have shown lately guys feel they are able to put the puck in the net, but it's going to have to start to happen soon." The Canucks could use some production from a power play that was being counted on to score but is ranked 29th in the NHL with an 8.7 percent success rate and has one goal on 25 chances in the past 10 games. The top power-play unit hasn't scored since Oct. 22, and Loui Eriksson, who signed a six-year, $36 million contract as a free agent after scoring 10 of his 30 goals with the Boston Bruins on the power play, has been dropped to the second unit. Eriksson, who has one goal, took turns on the top power play in practice Saturday but coach Willie Desjardins said that is a "once in a while thing" because Eriksson and Daniel Sedin play similar roles in front of the net. "I don't think it's going to be a set unit," Desjardins said. "It's trying to find the right mix. … We haven't seemed to find the right answer yet."

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Radek Faksa -- Lauri Korpikoski

Antoine Roussel -- Tyler Seguin -- Patrick Eaves

Curtis McKenzie -- Devin Shore -- Brett Ritchie

Gemel Smith -- Justin Dowling -- Adam Cracknell

Dan Hamhuis -- John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya -- Stephen Johns

Jamie Oleksiak -- Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Esa Lindell

Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Cody Eakin (knee), Patrick Sharp (concussion), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jason Spezza (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness)

Canucks projected lineup

Daniel Sedin -- Henrik Sedin -- Loui Eriksson

Markus Granlund -- Brandon Sutter -- Derek Dorsett  

Sven Baertschi -- Bo Horvat -- Alexandre Burrows  

Michael Chaput -- Brendan Gaunce -- Jack Skille

Alexander Edler -- Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton -- Erik Gudbranson

Luca Sbisa -- Nikita Tryamkin

Ryan Miller

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Alex Biega, Philip Larsen

Injured: Jannik Hansen (rib), Anton Rodin (knee), Jayson Megna (shoulder), Christopher Tanev (lower body)

Status report

Spezza skated this week but is not close to returning, Ruff said. … The Canucks sent Jake Virtanen to Utica of the American Hockey League to play games Friday and Saturday, but the 20-year-old right wing isn't expected back in time for this game. The No. 6 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft has one assist in 10 games and was a healthy scratch for two straight games before being sent down.

Who's hot

Seguin has two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak and has 10 points in his past seven games. … Benn had two goals and two assists in the games against Calgary and Edmonton after failing to score a goal in the previous nine games. … Daniel Sedin has three goals and one assist in his past four games. … Henrik Sedin has two goals and two assists in four games.

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