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Julius Honka expected to be in lineup tonight

Antti Niemi the likely starter in goal as Stars take on Bruins

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Defenseman Julius Honka is expected to be in the lineup tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. The Stars recalled Honka, the team's first-round pick (14th overall) in 2014, from the Texas Stars (AHL) on Wednesday.

"It feels awesome," Honka said. "I think I've played good lately and it's always a good feeling to get called up. I've really enjoyed my time here, and I am looking forward to having good games and a good finish here."

Honka, the team's top prospect on defense, has 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in 50 games with Texas this season. He's played ten games with Dallas, registering four assists.

"We've had a few games with him, and we want to play him to his strengths. He is a tremendous skater," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "We are probably going to put him on one of our power play units. We just want to see him play his game."

Video: Honka excited to be back with Stars

Honka's recall gives the Stars eight defensemen again, and Patrik Nemeth and Greg Pateryn are the likely scratches for tonight's game.

Antti Niemi is the expected starter in goal. He has backed up Kari Lehtonen the past seven games and will be making his first start since March 14, when he was pulled midway through the game after allowing five goals on 20 shots in a 7-1 loss at Edmonton. Lehtonen has started every game since but Ruff said Lehtonen may have run out of gas in Tuesday's 4-1 loss at Montreal.

"He might have hit the wall," Ruff said after that game. "We've played him a lot. He gave us two solid periods and then two got by him. He's played a lot for us lately. We've pushed the limit with him."

The Stars (31-34-11) are playing the third game of a five-game road trip. They are 1-1-0 in the first two games, and they are 3-1-1 in their past five games overall and 4-2-1 in the past seven.

Bruins Watch

Tuukka Rask will get the start in goal for the Bruins tonight. He returned from a lower-body injury and stopped 24 shots in Boston's 4-1 victory over Nashville on Tuesday. Forward Frank Vatrano is out tonight with an upper-body injury and is expected to be replaced by Matt Beleskey. The Bruins (40-30-6) come into tonight's game with a three-point lead over Tampa Bay in the race for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Tonight's Game

Who: Dallas Stars at Boston Bruins
Where: TD Garden
When: 6:30 p.m.
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

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

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak - Julius Honka

Antti Niemi
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Greg Pateryn
Injured: Patrick Sharp (hip), Jiri Hudler (lower body), Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee)

Bruins Projected Lineup

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Backes
Drew Stafford - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey - Ryan Spooner - Jimmy Hayes
Dominic Moore - Riley Nash - Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
John-Michael Liles - Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask
Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Colin Miller, Joe Morrow, Zane McIntyre
Injured: Tim Schaller (lower body), Frank Vatrano (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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