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Preview: Maple Leafs at Stars

Defenseman Morgan Rielly to miss sixth straight game for Toronto; Dallas center Radek Faksa will return

by Sean Shapiro / NHL.com Correspondent

MAPLE LEAFS (23-15-9) at STARS (20-20-10)

8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, SNO, NHL.TV 

 

Maple Leafs team scope

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly will miss his sixth consecutive game with a lower-body injury. Rielly participated in the morning skate but made the decision he wasn't ready to play. "You can just tell, things react differently, and it's just a matter of managing it yourself and also using the training staff," Rielly said. "The most important thing is that you're doing everything you can to get healthy, and when that time comes, you'll know." Toronto, 11-3-2 in its past 16 games, is one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs have three games in hand on the Flyers. Goaltender Frederik Andersen will start after Curtis McElhinney played the final game before the All-Star break. Andersen is coming off back-to-back shutouts, against the Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames. Center Auston Matthews rejoined the Maple Leafs after playing in the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game and hopes to get a boost from the experience. "I think so, it's kind of a weekend for fun, not too serious," he said. "We get back here and we've got quite a bit of work to do over the next few months."

 

Stars team scope

Center Radek Faksa will return to the Dallas Stars lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury. "He skated well yesterday and said he's ready to go this morning," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's a big man [6-foot-3, 210 pounds], he's heavy on the puck and plays against their best players. He's one of our better defenders when it comes to playing in our own end." Forward Curtis McKenzie likely will be a healthy scratch. The Stars are trying to extend a three-game point streak and have three games at home this week after the All-Star break. Dallas is three points out of the second wild card in the Western Conference with 32 games remaining. "It's because there are teams like us that are battling for our lives," center Tyler Seguin said. "Every night it's a playoff-type game, it doesn't matter whether it's against your division or your conference." Goaltender Kari Lehtonen will start and make his eighth straight appearance. Lehtonen made 21 saves in relief in a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday after Antti Niemi was pulled after the first period. 

 

Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- William Nylander

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- Connor Brown

Matt Martin -- Frederik Gauthier -- Nikita Soshnikov

Martin Marincin -- Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner -- Connor Carrick

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Josh Leivo, Frank Corrado

Injured: Morgan Rielly (lower body), Ben Smith (hand) 

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Cody Eakin -- Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel -- Jason Spezza -- Tyler Seguin

Devin Shore -- Radek Faksa-- Patrick Sharp

Lauri Korpikoski -- Adam Cracknell -- Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis -- Julius Honka

Jordie Benn -- Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Curtis McKenzie, Patrik Nemeth

Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Johnny Oduya (lower body)

 

Status report

Hudler is a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game. Honka will play his second consecutive game after being a healthy scratch the past two games. 

 

Who's hot

Kadri has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past four games and 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his past 11. … Van Riemsdyk has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his past 11 games. … Marner has 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in his past nine games. … Eaves has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past five games. … Jamie Benn has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past five games.

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