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Benn good to go tonight vs. Sharks

Spezza doubtful, Lehtonen expected to get the start in goal

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Jamie Benn will be back in the lineup tonight when the Dallas Stars play the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center. Benn missed Friday's game in Calgary with an eye injury.

"Missed a game as a precaution," Benn said. "I had a good practice yesterday and a good morning skate today, so I am ready to go tonight."

Benn was injured Thursday in Vancouver when he was scratched in the eye during a fight with Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin.

"It's fine," Benn said. "I had no problems with it in practice yesterday. I am just looking forward to tonight and see if we can put in a better effort."

Video: Benn back to face Sharks

It appears the Stars will be without center Jason Spezza. He left Sunday's practice with back spasms and did not skate this morning. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Spezza was doubtful for tonight's game with the Sharks.

With Spezza out, Tyler Seguin will move to center with Remi Elie and Brett Ritchie on his wings. Cody Eakin is expected to center Benn and Ales Hemsky. Jiri Hudler will be back in the lineup and skate on the right wing with center Adam Cracknell and left wing Curtis McKenzie. The line of Devin Shore, Radek Faksa and Patrick Sharp stays intact from the last game.

It's not clear who will sit out on defense tonight. None of the seven defensemen skated late, so warm-ups will tell the tale on what happens there.

Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for Dallas this morning, so he is expected to get the start in net tonight vs. the Sharks.

The Stars (28-33-10) are coming off a 1-3-0 road trip, and they have lost four of their past five games overall.

"Our goal is to bring a solid effort every night," Benn said. "I don't think we brought that on the road. We're looking for everyone to bring their best here the last [eleven] games and finish this season with hard work."

Sharks Watch

Aaron Dell is expected to get the start in goal tonight for the Sharks. Dell is 10-4-1 with a 1.90 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. His last start came Thursday when he stopped 32 of 35 shots in a 4-1 loss to St. Louis. He stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 5-1 win over the Stars on March 12. Forward Jannik Hansen (upper body) is doubtful. Defenseman David Schlemko could return to the lineup after missing the past eight games with a lower-body injury. The Sharks (42-22-7) have dropped two straight games and have seen their lead for first place in the Pacific Division shrink to four points over Anaheim.

Tonight's game

Who: San Jose Sharks 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 - Ales Hemsky
Remi Elie - Tyler Seguin - Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Jiri Hudler

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Patrik Nemeth - Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak
Injured: Jason Spezza (back), Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee)

Sharks Projected Lineup

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Joel Ward
Joonas Donskoi - Chris Tierney - Mikkel Boedker
Micheal Haley - Daniel O'Regan - Marcus Sorensen

Paul Martin - Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon - David Schlemko

Aaron Dell
Martin Jones

Scratched: Timo Meier, Dylan DeMelo
Injured: Melker Karlsson (lower body), Jannik Hansen (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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