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Healthy Stars look to salvage finale of homestand

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- After a highly disappointing 8-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a sellout crowd at American Airlines Center on Saturday, the Dallas Stars return to the ice against the Calgary Flames on Monday.

The Stars are 0-2-0 against the Flames this season, having lost to them 7-4 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Feb. 13 and then falling 4-3 at home four days later. Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan has a formula for salvaging the final contest in a four-game homestand, a stretch in which the Stars are 0-2-1 and have been outscored 14-2.

"I think consistency [is the key]," Gulutzan said. "I think playing a 60-minute hockey game [is key]. I know that sounds redundant, but if it's 1-1, 0-0 after two, that's fine. We've just got to play 60 minutes."

The Stars enter this game almost completely healthy. Fourth-line wing Ryan Garbutt will miss a second straight game with a hand injury and veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas was absent from the morning skate, but for good reason.

"[Robidas] wasn't out there this morning. We had the option [Sunday] for some of those guys to pick one or the other [days to take off]," Gulutzan said. "[Ray Whitney] didn't come out [Sunday], but [Robidas] did. He's got this morning off."

And defenseman Aaron Rome, who has missed the last nine games with a broken foot, went through his first morning skate with Dallas since Feb. 23. Rome's return could be close, but he will not travel with the team later this week as they visit the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday and the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

"Certainly it was an encouraging sign because he only skated a couple days and now he got through a full pregame [skate]," Gulutzan said. "He's coming along quicker. It's healing a little quicker than we thought because it was a cleaner break comparative to [Whitney]. He's a little bit on a fast track, so it was an encouraging sign from him this morning."

Gulutzan is shuffling his lines a bit, putting Whitney on his top line with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson. Captain Brenden Morrow now is on the second line, alongside Derek Roy and Erik Cole. Rookie defenseman Jamie Oleksiak likely will be a healthy scratch with Philip Larsen returning to the ice and paired with Jordie Benn. The only other change in the back for Dallas is Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski will be paired together.

As for Calgary, Joey MacDonald will be starting in goal, his ninth start of the season. MacDonald stopped 27 of 30 shots for the Flames in their last trip to Dallas on Feb. 17, earning his first win since March 2012. Regular starter Miikka Kiprusoff is back home with his wife, who gave birth to a baby boy Monday.

Flames coach Bob Hartley called center Mikael Backlund, who is battling a lower-body injury from a 6-3 win against the Nashville Predators on Thursday, a game-time decision.

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