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Kari Lehtonen to start in goal for Stars tonight against Blues

"Good to go" after leaving Friday night's game, Ben Bishop will backup Lehtonen

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Kari Lehtonen will get the start in goal tonight as the Dallas Stars take on the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

Coach Ken Hitchcock said the Stars are using the same goaltending plan they had going into the weekend despite Ben Bishop leaving Friday's game against Vegas early in the third period and Lehtonen playing the rest of the way.

"Same plan. Lehtonen is playing tonight, and Ben is backing up," Hitchcock said. "Nothing has changed."

Bishop left Friday's game after getting hit in the mask and cut by a shot off the stick of Vegas forward Reilly Smith. Bishop went into the NHL's concussion protocol, and Hitchcock said Friday night that Bishop was fine. Hitchcock said Saturday morning that Bishop has been cleared and will dress tonight as the backup to Lehtonen.

"He is good to go," Hitchcock said.

Video: Hitchcock on return to St. Louis

Lehtonen stopped nine of 11 shots in relief of Bishop in the 2-1 loss to Vegas in the season opener for both teams.

The Stars are expected to make one lineup change among the forwards for tonight's game against the Blues. Adam Cracknell, who was a healthy scratch Friday, is expected to play and Gemel Smith will sit out as a scratch. Julius Honka and Greg Pateryn are expected to be the scratches on defense for a second straight game.

Video: Burnside speaks with Pietrangelo

The Stars will try to build on the good parts of Friday night's 2-1 loss to Vegas at American Airlines Center. The Stars outshot the Golden Knights 46-30 and dominated play for portions of the game, especially in the second period. But they couldn't extend their 1-0 lead, and a couple of mistakes proved costly as Vegas scored twice in the third period to rally for the victory.

"We were awful good for a long time yesterday," Hitchcock said. "I look at the first ten games. Ten games is when you finish your evaluation. We know we are going to have some blips and we are just going to have to fight through it. We did so many good things yesterday, and it was frustrating to lose that hockey game the way we played, but that's the way things go. I think we've got to carry a lot of our good play from there into this game."

Hitchcock returns to St. Louis, where he coached for six seasons (2011-2017), leading the Blues to six straight postseason appearances and a trip to the Western Conference Final in 2016.

"We were really proud of what we built here," Hitchcock said. "I think you find out when you are in a different organization, and you are trying to get back on the winning track, you realize how challenging and difficult that task is. And you ought to not take it for granted because when you are in an organization that is in the playoffs all the time, there are a lot of things that go into that.

"There is a sense of cooperation between the coaches and the players and the management and the coaches that make a big difference if you are going to get into the playoffs and be in there consistently. I think we are learning some of those lessons in Dallas now."

Blues Watch

The Blues (1-0-0) haven't played since Wednesday when they won, 5-4 in overtime, in Pittsburgh to open their season. The Blues are expected to go with the same lineup they used in that game. St. Louis is missing several key players due to injuries including forwards Alex Steen, Patrik Berglund, and Robby Fabbri and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

Tonight's Game

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

Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore - Martin Hanzal - Tyler Pitlick
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Adam Cracknell

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Marc Methot - Jamie Oleksiak
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen
Ben Bishop

Scratched: Julius Honka, Greg Pateryn, Gemel Smith
Injured: None

Blues Projected Lineup

Vladimir Sobotka - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Dmitrij Jaskin
Magnus Paajarvi - Oskar Sundqvist - Tage Thompson
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Chris Thorburn

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen
Carter Hutton

Scratched: Nate Prosser, Ivan Barbashev, Wade Megan
Injured: Alexander Steen (hand), Jay Bouwmeester (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Robby Fabbri (knee), Zach Sanford (shoulder)

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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