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Stars defenseman Dillon might return for Game 5

by Steve Hunt

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon will be a game-time decision for Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round series with the Anaheim Ducks on Friday at Honda Center, according to coach Lindy Ruff.

The young defenseman participated in an optional skate Thursday before the Stars departed for Anaheim.

Dillon, who was third among Stars defensemen with an average of 21:05 of ice time during the regular season, has been out since April 11, when he sustained a lower-body injury in a 3-0 playoff-clinching win against the St. Louis Blues. He has missed the past five games.

Should Dillon return for Game 5 (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RDS2, PRIME, FS-SW), it would be his debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2.

"If I'm going to be in, I want to be able to help the team," Dillon said. "Things are getting better and better and just kind of keeping tabs with the doctors and the medical staff. They've done a tremendous job of monitoring me and making sure I'm getting the best treatment I can."

Dillon has been skating over the past week, even participating in the morning skate in advance of Game 4 on Wednesday. He said he has been pain-free during workouts with assistant coach James Patrick.

"The pain was pretty tough to handle. Just getting back into the routine of things, getting on the bike, making strides were first and foremost off the ice and then getting on the ice, each day I've tried to do a little bit more and more," Dillon said. "[On Friday] I'll try to do more and the following day even more than that. It's a process and it's frustrating, but at the end of the day seeing these guys winning has been tremendous. I just want to be a part of it."

Rookie defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who did not play the final two periods of Game 4 with an upper-body injury, is also a game-time decision for Game 5, Ruff said.

If the Stars get Dillon back Friday, it would not only give them some additional size on the blue line, but it would allow Ruff to lessen the workload for defensemen Trevor Daley, who logged 28:16 of ice time in Game 4, and Alex Goligoski, who led the Stars with 32:48 of ice time in the 4-2 win against the Ducks.

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