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Lehtonen Expected in Goal Tonight as Stars Look to Get Back on Track

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars will look to get back on track and climb back into a playoff position when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.

The Stars, who have lost back-to-back games for the first time since late January, enter tonight’s game in ninth place in the Western Conference. They are two points behind Phoenix, which moved into the eighth and final playoff spot with a 4-3 win at Los Angeles last night. The Stars have two games in hand and the Stars can move back into a playoff spot with a win over the Penguins.

“We’ve been at the point of urgency for a long-time,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “It hasn’t just been these last two games. The overtime loss (vs. Calgary) when we had a 3-1 lead was a tough loss, and Winnipeg (7-2 loss) we just made two handfuls of big mistakes that cost us. But we know where we are at; we are in the thick of a heck of a playoff race. We know we are going to have to play good teams and beat good teams to get points.”

Ruff doesn’t reveal his starting goaltender to the media, but Kari Lehtonen is expected to start in goal tonight after missing the last four games with a concussion. Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice at this morning’s skate in Pittsburgh.

Jeff Zatkoff will start in goal for Pittsburgh, which has lost its last two games. Zatkoff is 10-4-1 with a 2.63 goals against average and .914 save percentage this season.

Forwards James Neal (concussion) and Chris Kunitz (lower body) are game-time decisions for the Penguins. Both need to be cleared by doctors to play tonight.

Tuesday’s game

Who: Dallas Stars at Pittsburgh Penguins
Where: CONSOL Energy Center
When: 6:00 p.m.
TV: TXA-21
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin
Erik ColeCody EakinColton Sceviour
Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerRyan Garbutt
Ray WhitneyChris MuellerAlex Chiasson

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Jordie BennBrenden Dillon
Kevin ConnautonSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen
Tim Thomas

Penguins projected lineup

Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Lee Stempniak
Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Taylor Pyatt – Brandon Sutter – Craig Adams
Tanner Glass – Marcel Goc – Brian Gibbons

Olli Maatta – Brooks Orpik
Rob Scuderi – Matt Niskanen
Robert Bortuzzo – Simon Despres

Jeff Zatkoff
Marc-Andre Fleury

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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