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Stars will have Seguin in lineup vs. Blackhawks

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- After holding Tyler Seguin out of practice the past two days with what was termed a muscle issue, the Dallas Stars center returned for the morning skate on Friday and by all accounts will play against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Seguin, who leads the Stars with 12 goals and is second to captain Jamie Benn with 23 points, will return to his normal place centering the top line alongside Benn and rookie Valeri Nichushkin, the Stars' top pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

"[He] just had a little bit of muscle issue so we decided to rest him," Ruff said of Seguin.

The Stars have the fewest points in the Central Division with 26, but with only 23 games played they have at least a game in hand on every team ahead of them except the Colorado Avalanche.

"I think every game means something," Seguin said. "You can't fall too far behind. We have less games [played] than a lot of teams so we need to start making up ground here."

The Stars, who are in game two of a three-game homestand, beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 on Tuesday, a game where Dallas got half of its goals from its fourth line, including a pair from Antoine Roussel, a trend Stars coach Lindy Ruff would like to see continue.

"That's the identity you'd love to have. I'd love to have the scoring on every line. You'd love to have lines go out there, be dangerous and be a difference in a lot of different games," Ruff said. "It was great to see those guys, the energy they had. I think they led our team and think they skated as well as anybody."

Kari Lehtonen, who had started 14 straight games in net for Dallas before Dan Ellis started Tuesday, was first off the ice for the Stars after the morning skate and it appears he will return to goal.

As for the Blackhawks, they are on game six of a seven-game road trip that will end Saturday night at the Phoenix Coyotes, a trip Chicago is 4-1-0 on thus far.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville confirmed after the morning skate that Corey Crawford will return to the net after Antti Raanta started Chicago's 3-2 win against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, stopping 20 of 22 shots to earn his first NHL victory.

Quenneville added that defenseman Michael Kostka, who has missed the past 16 games with a lower-body injury but continues to progress, could be close to returning. Kostka last played on Oct. 19 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at United Center.

"Yeah, real close. He got a couple of these real good skates in him and seems to be almost ready. Any day now we'll activate him and get him going," Quenneville said.

The lone lineup change for Chicago will see Sheldon Brookbank, a healthy scratch Wednesday, come back on the Blackhawks' third defensive pairing alongside Nick Leddy with Michal Rozsival coming out.

Here are the projected lineups:


Patrick SharpJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Brandon SaadMichal HandzusPatrick Kane

Kris VersteegBrandon PirriAndrew Shaw

Brandon BolligMarcus KrugerBen Smith

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook

Niklas HjalmarssonJohnny Oduya

Nick LeddySheldon Brookbank

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Michal Rozsival

Injured: Bryan Bickell (lower body), Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body), Michael Kostka (lower body)


Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin

Ray WhitneyCody EakinAlex Chiasson

Erik ColeShawn HorcoffRich Peverley

Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerRyan Garbutt

Brenden DillonStephane Robidas

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Sergei GoncharJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Dan Ellis

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Dustin Jeffrey

Injured: Aaron Rome (undisclosed)

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