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Antoine Roussel a game-time decision vs. Montreal

Kari Lehtonen expected to start in goal as Stars close out three-game homestand

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars will be without captain Jamie Benn (foot) for tonight's game against Montreal at American Airlines Center, but they could get forward Antoine Roussel back.

Roussel has missed four games with an upper-body injury. He did not take part in this morning's optional skate, but will skate in warm-ups and is listed as a game-time decision.

"He's available," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "Today was optional, and he chose not to go out. He'll be out there in warm-ups, and we'll find out where he is. It's just up to him. He's got the type of thing that he'll know if he can play or not."

Roussel sounded optimistic that he could go.

"There is a good chance," Roussel said when asked this morning if he would play tonight.

Benn is out due to a foot injury suffered in Saturday's loss to Florida and is considered day to day. Patrick Sharp is expected to take Benn's spot on the top line with Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin.

The Stars will make one change on defense for tonight's game. Stephen Johns will be back in the lineup after not playing the past four games, one with an injury and the past three as a healthy scratch.

"I think we can utilize his puck moving ability and that left-right defensemen, where he can get up ice and help keep some plays alive," Ruff said. "There's a little bit less time with how hard [Montreal] can come at you."

Video: Ruff's thoughts on matchup vs. Canadiens

Jamie Oleksiak and Patrick Nemeth skated late this morning and are the expected scratches on defense.

Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so he is expected to get the start in goal tonight vs. Montreal. Lehtonen has been on a good run, posting a 5-3-0 record in December with a 1.79 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

"Kari has looked sharp in all his games," Ruff said. "I think he feels good about where his game is. We need him to be a difference maker. It's that key save at the key time that will make the difference in the game."

The Stars (16-15-7) are wrapping up a key nine-game stretch where they will have played eight games at home. They are 5-2-1 so far and a win tonight would give them 13 of a possible 18 points.

"It was vital that we have a good record in these nine games. We all knew that," said Stars forward Patrick Eaves. "We wanted to establish our building as a hard place to play. We have a tough opponent in [Montreal] and we are going to have to be at our best. Hopefully, we can end it on a good note."

Canadiens Watch

The Canadiens (23-9-6) did not skate this morning after playing last night in Nashville, where they defeated the Predators, 2-1, in overtime. Montreal's last four games have gone beyond regulation, and they are 2-0-2 in those games. Carey Price played in goal for Montreal last night, so Al Montoya is the likely starter in goal tonight. Max Pacioretty scored the game-winner in OT last night, giving him 11 goals in his past 14 games.


Tonight's Game

Who: Montreal Canadiens at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin
Curtis McKenzie - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Jiri Hudler - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Devin Shore - Lauri Korpikoski

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Johnny Oduya - Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, Adam Cracknell
Injured: Jamie Benn (foot), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)

Canadiens Projected Lineup

Max Pacioretty - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Paul Byron - Torrey Mitchell - Alexander Radulov
Artturi Lehkonen - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Flynn
Daniel Carr - Michael McCarron - Chris Terry

Alexei Emelin - Shea Weber
Nathan Beaulieu - Jeff Petry
Mark Barberio - Ryan Johnston

Al Montoya
Carey Price

Scratched: Bobby Farnham, Zach Redmond
Injured: David Desharnais (knee), Alex Galchenyuk (knee), Andrei Markov (lower body), Greg Pateryn (ankle), Andrew Shaw (concussion)

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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