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Game 1: Lehtonen vs. Andersen in Goal; Dillon Out for Stars

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars are ready to go. After battling down the stretch to secure the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Stars are now ready to open their first round series against the top-seeded Ducks tonight at Honda Center in Anaheim.

“They feel loose, good spirit. I don’t get any feeling that they are uptight,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We’ve had a couple good meetings and everybody seems in the right frame of mind and looking forward to getting this series started.”

The Stars know they’ll have their hands full with the Ducks, who finished as the top team in the West and with the second best record in the league. At the same time, the Stars have had some success against the Ducks over the years, including two wins in three games this season.

“We’re an excited group. We’re playing against a good team. We know they are good, we just have to go out and play our game,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley.

Stars lineup notes: Dillon out

Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon will miss tonight’s playoff opener against the Anaheim Ducks with a lower body injury. Dillon, who suffered the injury in Friday’s game against St. Louis and sat out Sunday’s regular season finale in Phoenix, did not skate Wednesday in Anaheim.

“He's just not able to skate,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He's not comfortable enough to skate.”

Dillon is listed as day to day.

With Dillon not playing, veteran Aaron Rome is expected to slot in on the Dallas blue line. Rome has 18 games of NHL playoff experience, 14 of them coming when Vancouver made it to the Stanley Cup Final against Boston in 2011.

Ray Whitney will return tonight after missing the final five regular season games with a lower body injury. He is expected to skate on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Alex Chiasson.

Kari Lehtonen, of course, will get the nod in net for the Stars. It will be his first NHL playoff start since 2007, when he was with Atlanta.

Kevin Connauton, Dustin Jeffrey and Chris Mueller will be the healthy scratches tonight for Dallas.

Ducks watch: Andersen to start in goal

Rookie Frederik Andersen will get the start in goal for the Anaheim Ducks tonight over veteran Jonas Hiller and fellow rookie John Gibson.

Andersen won five of his last six starts for the Ducks and was 20-5-0 with a 2.29 goals against average and .923 save percentage this season.

“We’ve had three good goalies, but right now Andersen gives us the best chance to win,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be starting Game 2, but he’ll be starting Game 1.”

Andersen made his NHL debut against the Stars on Oct. 20, taking over for Hiller at the start of the second period and stopping all 24 shots he faced as the Ducks rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win 6-3. Tonight he’ll make his NHL playoff debut against the Stars.

“It’s just a matter of getting ready and enjoying the moment,” Andersen said. “I’m not really nervous because I know how I’m capable of playing.”

Tonight’s game

Who: Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks
What: Game 1, 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim
When: 9:00 p.m.
Local TV: Fox Sports Southwest
National TV: NBC Sports Network, TSN
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Erik ColeVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour
Ray WhitneyShawn HorcoffAlex Chiasson

Alex Goligoski-Trevor Daley
Patrik NemethJordie Benn
Aaron RomeSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen
Tim Thomas

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Mueller

Injured: Brenden Dillon (lower body), Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat)

Ducks projected lineup

Matt Beleskey – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Jakob Silfverberg – Saku Koivu – Andrew Cogliano
Daniel Winnik – Nick Bonino – Kyle Palmieri
Patrick Maroon – Mathieu Perreault – Teemu Selanne

Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy
Bryan Allen – Stephane Robidas

Frederik Andersen
Jonas Hiller

Scratched: Luca Sbisa, Sami Vatanen, Rickard Rakell, Devante Smith-Pelly

Injured: Tim Jackman (hand), Sheldon Souray (wrist)

Conditioning: Mark Fistric

This story was not subject to the 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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