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Stars shuffle lineup in search of Game 4 offensive spark

Montgomery will break up Dallas' top line of Benn, Seguin and Radulov; insert Hanley on defense against St. Louis

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars will make some tweaks to their lineup for tonight's crucial Game 4 against the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center (8:30 p.m. CT; NBCSN; KTCK).

The Stars, who lost Game 3 on Monday, trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. 

Stars coach Jim Montgomery is breaking up his top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov for tonight's game. Jason Dickinson and Mats Zuccarello will skate with Seguin, and Benn and Radulov will move to a line with Roope Hintz.

 

[RELATED: Everything you need to know about Game 4 | Stars Playoff Central]

 

This is the first time Montgomery has rolled out these two line combinations to start a game, and the hope is to spark some offense 5-on-5, where the Stars have been outscored 7-3 in the series.

"Both lines haven't been possessing the puck enough, so let's change up the lineup and see if we can generate more offense and more possession time," Montgomery said.

There are no expected changes to the bottom six group of forwards.

Montgomery is also making a change on defense, inserting Joel Hanley in on the third pair with Ben Lovejoy and taking Taylor Fedun out of the lineup. Hanley will give the Stars a third left-handed defensemen to go with their three right-handers.

"We've got three lefty-righty combos which make it easier for transitional play through the neutral zone," Montgomery said. "And Joel Hanley, when he played for us, just like Fedun, did an excellent job for us. He's an excellent skater, and the best part of his game is defending."

Video: Hanley 'really looking forward' to postseason debut

This will be the NHL playoff debut for the 27-year-old Hanley, who played 16 regular season games with Dallas in November and December when the team was hit hard with injuries.

"I am super excited," Hanley said. "It's an exciting time and a great opportunity. I am looking forward to it tonight. … I am just going to try to bring consistency. I am a pretty simple player. I like to get the puck to the forwards as quickly as possible, and I want to compete."

Ben Bishop, of course, gets the start in goal.

The Stars are looking to draw even in the series after a 4-3 loss in Monday's Game 3 left them down 2-1 in the series.

"We need a better effort. We talked a lot about Game 3, and we weren't good enough," said Stars defenseman Ben Lovejoy. "They came out, they outworked us, and they played a smarter game. They had a game plan; they wanted to play behind our net, and they put every puck into the corner and made us work, grind in our own zone and play defense for far too long. 

"We need to turn that back on them a little bit. We need to find ways to get out of our zone quicker and play more offense and make it hard on some of their players. That's what we are going to try to do tonight."

A win tonight for the Stars and they pull even at 2-2, but a loss will leave them in a 3-1 hole with the series shifting back to St. Louis for Friday's Game 5.

"We need to be more desperate," said Montgomery. "That's the one area where, in both games that we've lost, we've played good hockey but we haven't played desperate hockey."

 

Blues could push Stars to brink of elimination

The Blues have a chance to put a stranglehold on the series with a win tonight, which would give them a commanding 3-1 lead heading home. They'd like to see a repeat of the way they played in Monday's 4-3 win.

"I think coming out with the same mindset we had in Game 3," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "I liked our aggressive approach in the game, just our north mentality. We've got to continue to do that, we've got to work this team. They're a very good hockey club, and we've got to make sure we manage the puck very well, and we have to get pucks deep and go to work."

Based on this morning's skate, no lineup changes are expected for the Blues tonight. They'll go with the same set of forwards and defensemen they used in Game 3.

Jordan Binnington, of course, gets the nod in goal.

 

Game 4: St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars (STL leads 2-1)

Where: American Airlines Center
When: 8:30 p.m.
TV: NBCSN
Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM/96.7-FM

 

Stars projected lineup

Jason Dickinson - Tyler Seguin - Mats Zuccarello
Jamie Benn - Roope Hintz - Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Justin Dowling - Jason Spezza

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Joel Hanley - Ben Lovejoy

Ben Bishop
Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Tyler Pitlick, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Taylor Fedun, Julius Honka, Landon Bow, Dillon Heatherington, Gavin Bayreuther, Denis Gurianov, Joel L'Esperance, Nick Caamano, Adam Mascherin

Injured: Jamie Oleksiak (lower body)

Injured Reserve: Martin Hanzal (back), Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), Marc Methot (knee surgery)

 

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz - Ryan O'Reilly - Vladimir Tarasenko
Brayden Schenn - Oskar Sundqvist - David Perron
Pat Maroon - Tyler Bozak - Robert Thomas
Robby Fabbri - Ivan Barbashev - Alexander Steen

Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington
Jake Allen

Scratched: Joel Edmundson, Michael Del Zotto, Sammy Blais, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn, Jared Coreau

Injured: None

For complete postseason coverage, visit Stars Playoff Central.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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