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Stars hope meeting, top-line reunion help effort

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Hours after the Dallas Stars lost 4-1 at the Nashville Predators on Monday, Stars coach Lindy Ruff called a closed-door meeting in the locker room at American Airlines Center on Tuesday morning.

The meeting, which also included general manager Jim Nill, lasted for approximately 20 minutes.

"It was good," Ruff said of the meeting. "I've been through stretches like this and it's believing in your system, trusting in your system, it's being able to trust the guy next to you. The two words I look for and I want the players to dig down and grab are energy and emotion. I want to see energy and emotion [Tuesday]. And when the game's over I want them to be proud of the effort they put in, and we'll take the result after that."

The loss to the Predators extended Dallas road winless skid to five (0-4-1) and dropped the Stars to 1-8-1 in January.

One change Ruff plans on making as Dallas hosts the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, the second game in three days between the teams, is putting captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who has no goals in the past nine games, back together on the Stars' top line.

Ruff has switched back and forth between playing Benn and Seguin together and splitting them up. But at least to start the game against the Wild, who beat the Stars 3-2 in overtime on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center, he will have them together.

"My plan is to have them together," Ruff said. "Every player runs through a tough stretch. Jamie ran through a real tough stretch. I think they got to stay with it. The best advice sometimes is make sure you get inside so you're getting those second opportunities."

Rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas' top selection in the 2013 NHL Draft who has been a healthy scratch the past two games, will return to the lineup Tuesday.

Ruff wouldn't disclose whether Kari Lehtonen or Dan Ellis would start in goal for the Stars.

Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said he will go with the same lineup he used Saturday, including starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper. It's continuity he's maintaining for one simple reason.

"The reason why we're going with the same lineup is just because the guys deserve the opportunity to get back in," Yeo said. "Particularly that [fourth] line."

Here are the projected lineups:


Nino Niederreiter - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Dany Heatley - Charlie Coyle - Jason Zucker

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine

Stephane Veilleux - Erik Haula - Torrey Mitchell

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Clayton Stoner - Keith Ballard

Darcy Kuemper

Johan Gustafsson

Scratched: Jonathon Blum, Mike Rupp

Injured: Nicklas Backstrom (lower body), Josh Harding (illness), Mikko Koivu (ankle surgery), Zach Parise (fractured left foot), Jared Spurgeon (lower body)


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Erik Cole

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Ray Whitney - Vernon Fiddler - Alex Chiasson

Shawn Horcoff - Rich Peverley - Valeri Nichushkin

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Kevin Connauton - Brenden Dillon

Aaron Rome - Sergei Gonchar

Dan Ellis

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Jordie Benn, Dustin Jeffrey

Injured: Stephane Robidas (leg)

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