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'Ready to go': Benn back in lineup for Stars against Blues

The captain returns from an upper-body injury as Dallas looks to gain ground on St. Louis in the standings

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Jamie Benn will be back in the lineup tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the St. Louis Blues in a key divisional game at Enterprise Center.

The Dallas captain left the Feb. 24 game in Chicago early in the first period with an upper-body injury and has missed the last two games.

"I'm good. Ready to go," Benn said. "100 percent."

Benn's return comes at a good time with what should be a ramped-up game with the Blues tonight. The two teams are meeting for the fourth and final time this season. The Stars can pull to within three points of St. Louis for third place in the Central Division with a regulation win.

"(Benn adds) toughness, skill, will, leadership," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. "The intensity and emotion of every game has been dialed up it seems like coming down the stretch here, and the last time he was incredible."

Benn will skate on the left wing with Joel L'Esperance at center and Jason Spezza on right wing. The line of Roope Hintz, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov will stay intact from last game. The trio of Mattias Janmark, Radek Faksa, and Blake Comeau, which was put together during Thursday's 4-3 win over Los Angeles and was very effective, will stay together. Jason Dickinson will center the fourth line with Valeri Nichushkin and Brett Ritchie.

Video: Benn ready to return to Stars' lineup to face Blues

Forward Denis Gurianov, who played in Thursday's game in Los Angeles, was assigned to Texas of the AHL Saturday afternoon with Benn coming back into the lineup.

There will be no changes on defense. The pairs will be Esa Lindell-John Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen-Roman Polak, and Taylor Fedun-Ben Lovejoy. Jamie Oleksiak will be a scratch for a second straight game. Julius Honka is a scratch on defense as well.

Ben Bishop gets the start in goal. Bishop is 19-14-2 and ranks sixth in the league in goals against average (2.29) and fifth in save percentage (.925).

While the Stars (32-27-5-69 points) are hoping to track down the Blues for third place in the Central, they also are trying to hold off a group of teams in the wild-card race. The Stars, who hold the first wild-card position, lead Minnesota (second wild-card spot) and Colorado (ninth place) by one point and Arizona (10th) by two points.

"We're right in the mix of things and in the grind," Benn said.

"We have a big game tonight, obviously, against a good team and we need to find a way to come out of here with a win."

 

Cogliano probable for Tuesday, 'doing better' 

Forward Andrew Cogliano will miss a second straight game with an upper-body injury suffered in Tuesday's game at Vegas. Cogliano remains back in Dallas getting treatment, but he could be ready to play Tuesday when the Stars host the New York Rangers at American Airlines Center.

"Doing better," Montgomery said. "Was not good enough to come into play tonight. Very hopeful, probable for Tuesday."

Montgomery said that forward Tyler Pitlick, who underwent wrist surgery on Feb. 5, is skating. Montgomery said Pitlick's timeline of eight weeks from the surgery has not changed.

 

Opposition watch: St. Louis Blues

The Blues (34-24-6-74 points) played Friday night at Carolina, losing 5-3 to the Hurricanes.

The Blues are 2-2-1 following their 11-game winning streak, which was ended by the Stars Feb. 21 in Dallas. St. Louis is five points behind Nashville for second place in the Western Conference with three games in hand.

Jordan Binnington is the expected starter in goal tonight for the Blues. Binnington, who was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month for February, is 15-2-1 this season with a 1.61 goals against average and .936 save percentage.

St. Louis recalled forward Sammy Blais from the AHL Saturday morning.

The Blues, who did not skate this morning, come into tonight's game riding a seven-game home winning streak.

 

Fast facts
  • This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Stars and Blues this season. The Stars are 2-1-0 in the season series with a 3-1 win at St. Louis on Jan. 8 and a 5-2 win in Dallas on Feb. 21. The Blues won 3-1 in Dallas on Jan. 12.

  • The Stars are 11-14-2 on the road.

  • The Blues are 17-11-4 at home.

  • The Stars are 9-7-2 vs. the Central Division.

  • The Blues are 11-8-4 vs. the Central Division.

  • Dallas is 8-6-1-17 points since the All-Star break.

  • St. Louis is 12-2-1-25 points since the All-Star break.

  • The Stars rank 29th in goal scoring (2.53) and third in goals against (2.64).

  • The Blues rank 19th in goals scoring (2.88) and seventh in goals against (2.75).

  • The Blues are 23-for-23 on the penalty kill over the last nine games.

  • The Stars have allowed eight power-play goals over the last eight games and are 18-26 (69.2 percent) on the PK during that stretch.

  • Seguin has 27 points (16 goals, 11 assists) in his last 26 games.

  • Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko has 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in his last 18 games.

 
Tonight's game

Who: Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues
Where: Enterprise Center
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM/96.7-FM

 

Stars projected lineup

Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jamie Benn - Joel L'Esperance - Jason Spezza
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Valeri Nichushkin - Jason Dickinson - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Taylor Fedun - Ben Lovejoy

Ben Bishop
Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Julius Honka
Injured: Andrew Cogliano (upper body), Mats Zuccarello (broken arm), Tyler Pitlick (wrist surgery), Martin Hanzal (back), Marc Methot (knee surgery), Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches)

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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