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As season winds down, Stars play for pride

Niemi expected in goal tonight vs. Oilers

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars continue their four-game road trip tonight in Edmonton. With the Stars having very little hope of making the playoffs (13 points out with 14 games remaining), it's playing for pride over the final few weeks of the season.

"It's tough to be in this spot. It's on all of us to be professional and keep ourselves to a high standard," said defenseman Dan Hamhuis.

"We're not in the place we want to be but you have to take a lot of pride in the way you play. We are going to try to go out and win every game," said Lindy Ruff. "Just ask yourself this question: Was I hard to play against and did I do my job."

Antti Niemi is expected to get the start in goal tonight against the Oilers. Niemi stopped 16 of 18 shots in relief of Kari Lehtonen in Sunday's 5-1 loss at San Jose. Niemi's last start came March 2, when he stopped 28 of 33 shots in a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders at American Airlines Center.

The Stars are expected to go with the same 12 forwards as last game, but Ruff could do some line juggling. Also, he is expected to throw Remi Elie out against Oilers captain and NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid at times tonight. Elie and McDavid played together with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League in 2014-15.

"That will be a fun tidbit to watch tonight," Ruffs said of Elie and McDavid. "I am going to try to get them head-to-head every now and then, see which one is better."

On defense, it's not clear what Ruff has in mind. Warm-ups will tell the tale there.

Oilers Watch

Cam Talbot will get the start in goal for the Oilers. Talbot is 33-20-8 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. The Oilers come into tonight's game with three straight losses and a 2-4-1 record in their past seven games. They've slipped to the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference and are three points out of third place in the Pacific Division.

Tonight's Game

Who: Dallas Stars at Edmonton Oilers
Where: Rogers Place
When: 8:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

Remi Elie - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Ales Hemsky
Curtis McKenzie - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Adam Cracknell - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak - Patrik Nemeth

Antti Niemi
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Greg Pateryn
Injured: Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee)

Oilers Projected Lineup

Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot - David Desharnais - Zack Kassian
Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Anton Slepyshev

Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson 
Andrej Sekera - Kris Russell 
Darnell Nurse - Matt Benning

Cam Talbot
Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Drake Caggiula, Iiro Pakarinen, Eric Gryba
Injured: Tyler Pitlick (knee)

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 DallasStars.com 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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