The Dallas Stars open a three-game homestand tonight when they take on the Los Angeles Kings at American Airlines Center.
The Kings come into the game riding a three-game losing streak to open the season, and they are without goaltender Jonathan Quick, who is expected to miss three months with a lower-body injury.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff is wary of the struggling Kings.
"I expect a real desperate club that is going to try to do everything to win," Ruff said. "When you get into a little bit of a hole, you try to claw your way out, and these are the games that scare a coach more than anything."
Video: Ruff meets with the media this morning at the AAC
The Stars (2-1-0) will look to build on Tuesday night's 2-1 win at Nashville, which was the team's best of the early season. The Stars will be looking for a strong homestand as well. This will be the second home game for the Stars, who defeated Anaheim 4-2 in the season opener last Thursday.
"This homestand is going to be important," Stars forward Adam Cracknell said. "We want to be a good home team in front of our fans. We want to take advantage of line changes and playing in our building. We started well in that home opener, and we hope we can keep bringing that energy."
Ruff is expected to roll out the same lineup he used in Tuesday's win in Nashville. Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars this morning, so he is expected to make his second straight start. Lehtonen stopped 27 shots against the Predators and has turned away 39 of 41 shots in two appearances this season.
"He's played well," Ruff said. "He gave us a real strong game [Tuesday], looked under control and made a couple big saves when we needed them. His interaction with our defensemen on some of the dump-ins and plays leaving the zone was good. I thought he looked comfortable in net."
No changes are expected at forward tonight. The Stars didn't run lines this morning, but Ruff will likely use the same lines as last game. Jiri Hudler remains out tonight due to illness. Ales Hemsky (groin) continues to skate with the team, but he is not ready to play yet.
On defense, Jamie Oleksiak and Esa Lindell will be in the lineup for the second straight game. Patrik Nemeth and Jordie Benn both skated late this morning and are expected to be healthy scratches. Ruff liked how both Oleksiak and Lindell played Tuesday in Nashville.
"I thought I got consistent play. They didn't give up a lot," Ruff said. "There are going to be mistakes, and there were a few mistakes, but they were both strong, and they both defended well, which is the most important thing."
Peter Budaj was the first goaltender off the ice for the Kings (0-3-0) this morning, so he is the expected starter in goal tonight. This will be Budaj's first start of the season for the Kings, who are missing number one goaltender Jonathan Quick. Budaj, who started the season in the AHL and was called up due to the Quick injury, played the third period in Tuesday's 6-3 loss at Minnesota, stopping all nine shots he faced. The 34-year-old Budaj has played 298 NHL games, starting 266 of them.
Who: Los Angeles Kings at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m. (CT)
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars Projected Lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Jason Spezza
Patrick Sharp - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Lauri Korpikoski
Dan Hamhuis - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns
Esa Lindell - Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Jordie Benn
Injured: Jiri Hudler (illness), Ales Hemsky (groin), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee)
Kings Projected Lineup
Dwight King - Anze Kopitar - Tyler Toffoli
Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Devin Setoguchi
Kyle Clifford - Nick Shore - Trevor Lewis
Andy Andreoff - Nic Dowd - Dustin Brown
Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez
Derek Forbort - Tom Gilbert
Scratched: Matt Greene, Teddy Purcell, Jordan Nolan
Injured: Jonathan Quick (lower body), Marian Gaborik (foot)
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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.