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Ales Hemsky returns tonight vs. Islanders

Greg Pateryn to make Stars debut on defense, Antti Niemi in goal

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Forward Ales Hemsky will return to the lineup tonight for the Dallas Stars when they take on the New York Islanders to wrap up a five-game homestand. Hemsky has been out since late October when he underwent hip surgery.

"It's nice to be with the guys and have a chance to play a game," Hemsky said. "It's exciting. I've worked hard to be where I am right now. We'll see how it goes tonight."

Hemsky has played in just one game this season, missing a total of 62 due to injury issues. He doesn't expect to be 100 percent for a while coming off the surgery but feels he is ready to play.

"I don't feel bad. The body feels good enough to try to play," Hemsky said. "I've skated for six weeks now, and I am kind of getting sick of it. You have to try to play in the game and see how it feels."

It's not clear where Hemsky will slot in the lineup today since the Stars did not run line rushes this morning. He is expected to see some time on the power play.

"Hopefully he has himself in a good place. He's been working extremely hard," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "You understand after all this time off, to get thrown in the fire it may be tough at times to get up to game pace. I am going to watch his minutes, keep his shifts short and give him a little bit of special teams time. We can use his speed. He's skating well right now. It's going to be that small ice compete you are really not ready for."

Defenseman Greg Pateryn, acquired Monday from Montreal in the Jordie Benn trade, will make his Dallas debut tonight. He'll give the Stars three right-handed shots on the blue line tonight along with John Klingberg and Stephen Johns.

"I've spent a lot of time watching [Pateryn's] game in the last day or so," Ruff said. "He's got a heavy shot; he keeps the game in front of him. I like having lefties and righties. If he keeps the game simple, he should be an effective defenseman for us."

Patrik Nemeth skated late this morning, so he is the expected scratch on defense.

Antti Niemi was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars at this morning's skate, so it appears he will start a second straight game. He was solid in Tuesday's 3-2 win over Pittsburgh, stopping 18 of 20 shots.

The Stars (25-28-10) come into tonight's game with three wins in their past four games and are sitting seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.  

Sharp talks injury

Stars forward Patrick Sharp said Thursday that he knew he wouldn't be dealt before Wednesday's trade deadline due to an injury issue. The Stars revealed that Sharp's injury eventually will require surgery, but the veteran forward will continue to play through it for now.

"I've felt better," Sharp said. "I think everyone has something going on this time of year, bumps and bruises. It's something I am going to have to work through and play as long as I can."

The specifics of the injury are not being disclosed and Sharp would not say how long he has been dealing with it.

"It's something that needs to be fixed going forward. Surgery will definitely help that," Sharp said. "Overall, it's just a disappointing situation. Just going to try to make the best out of the remaining games and do what I can individually to get ready for next season. I am upset about how things have played out this season. Hopefully, there are brighter days ahead."

Islanders Watch

Thomas Greiss will start in goal tonight for the Islanders. He shutout the Stars on Jan. 19, stopping 23 shots in a 3-0 victory in Brooklyn. The Islanders will get two forwards back from injury tonight in Cal Clutterbuck and Shane Prince. Also, Josh Ho-Sang, a first-round pick (28th overall) in the 2014 NHL draft, will make his NHL debut tonight. The Islanders, who are coming off a 7-0 loss to Columbus on Saturday, are one point out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Tonight's Game

Who: New York Islanders at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie - Jiri Hudler - Ales Hemsky

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns

Antti Niemi
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Adam Cracknell (lower body), Mattias Janmark (knee)

Islanders Projected Lineup

Anders Lee - John Tavares - Josh Bailey
Andrew Ladd - Brock Nelson - Josh Ho-Sang
Jason Chimera - Ryan Strome - Shane Prince
Nikolay Kulemin - Stephen Gionta - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey - Scott Mayfield
Calvin de Haan - Dennis Seidenberg

Thomas Greiss
Jean-Francois Berube

Scratched: Adam Pelech
Injured: Anthony Beauvillier (illness), Alan Quine (upper body), Travis Hamonic (lower body) and Casey Cizikas (upper body)

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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