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Stars without injured Nichushkin against Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz / NHL.com

STARS (0-1-1) at BLUE JACKETS (2-0-0)

TV: FS-SW, FS-O

COLUMBUS -- Dallas Stars second-year right wing Valeri Nichushkin will miss the game Tuesday at the Columbus Blue Jackets to remain in Texas for further examination of a hip flexor/groin injury that has hampered him the first two games.

"We're trying to get to the bottom of it," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "If he clears everything [Tuesday] he may be back [Wednesday]."

Nichushkin, the No. 10 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, has no points this season after he had 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games last season.

"It's a tough loss. He brings a lot of skill and speed to our line," Stars left wing Jamie Benn said.

Ruff has shuffled most of the lines but is expected to keep Patrick Eaves and newcomers Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky together. Eaves has no points while Spezza and Hemsky, teammates on the Ottawa Senators at the end of last season, each have one assist.

"My biggest challenge is getting to know everybody on the team in a short period of time," Spezza said. "You have to know everyone's tendencies. It's a feel thing. You have to go through the reps in practice. It's nice me and [Hemsky] played together. We had good chemistry right away in Ottawa."

Benn is expected to have Tyler Seguin at center and Colton Sceviour moving up to the right side on the top line. Benn and Seguin are a combined minus-6 and have no points.

"We've stayed in the perimeter a little bit too much," Ruff said. "I'd like to see us get inside. I'd like to see a little more net scrums, second and third opportunities. We haven't put ourselves in position to create those situations. If I can drill home a little less fancy and a little more work we'll be OK."

The Blue Jackets will seek their first 3-0-0 start by employing the same lineup that won 4-1 at the Buffalo Sabres and defeated the New York Rangers 5-2 last week.

"We've got to keep an even keel but obviously it's a good start," Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll said. "For the most part the work's been there. That's what we pride ourselves on.

The Blue Jackets have gotten the kind of start they wanted so far; last season they started 5-10-0.

"We had a good training camp," Boll said. "We've had some injuries but some young guys have really stepped up and played some big minutes. We're all on the same page. We all bought in from Day One and stuck to the system and listened to what the coaches preached.

"It's our identity and how hard we work. Whether you're a new guy coming in or been here a while, if you're not buying in you won't be playing much."

Here are the projected lineups:

STARS

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Colton Sceviour

Patrick Eaves - Jason Spezza - Ales Hemsky

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Shawn Horcoff - Vernon Fiddler - Erik Cole

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Jordie Benn - Brenden Dillon

Patrik Nemeth - Kevin Connauton

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Curtis McKenzie

Injured: Sergei Gonchar (broken ankle), Valeri Nichushkin (groin/hip)

BLUE JACKETS

Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - Cam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell - Artem Anisimov - Alexander Wennberg

Matt Calvert - Mark Letestu - Marko Dano

Jack Skille - Michael Chaput - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Tim Erixon - James Wisniewski

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Corey Tropp, Adam Cracknell, Cody Goloubef

Injured: Ryan Murray (knee), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal), Boone Jenner (broken hand), Nathan Horton (back)

Status report: McKenzie was recalled from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League for the second time this season. … Columbus coach Todd Richards said Murray is "closer" to playing his first game this season, possibly Friday against the Calgary Flames, before the Blue Jackets start a four-game trip. … Columbus forward Brian Gibbons was put on waivers. If he goes unclaimed by noon Wednesday he is expected to be reassigned to the Springfield Falcons of the AHL.

Who's hot: Atkinson has three goals in two games. His center, Johansen, has three assists despite missing training camp. Foligno has a goal and two assists. … Daley has a goal and an assist in two games after leading Dallas' defensemen with nine goals last season.

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