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Lehtonen in Goal, Nemeth to Make NHL Debut Against Capitals

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars take on the Washington Capitals tonight and both teams sit one point out of a playoff spot in their respective conferences.

The Stars are one point behind Phoenix with one game in hand in the Western Conference. The Capitals are one point behind Columbus in the East, but have played one more game than the Blue Jackets.

Tonight’s game kicks off a key stretch of four road games in six days against Eastern Conference teams, and the focus right now is on the Capitals, especially their top-ranked power play. Staying out of the penalty box will be key.

“We know that the power play is 40 percent of their goals and we know discipline is going to be a big issue,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “When we’re killing penalties tonight we’ve got to make sure we kill them.”

Kari Lehtonen will get the start in goal tonight. It will be his sixth straight. As expected, defenseman Patrik Nemeth, called up from the Texas Stars yesterday due to an injury to Aaron Rome, will make his NHL debut tonight.

“I’ve been looking forward to this a long time,” Nemeth said. “It should be fun.”

The 22-year-old Nemeth, listed at 6-3, 235 pounds, is considered a solid defensive defenseman.

“He’s played a solid game down in Austin, he’s done a real nice job defending. He’s played a lot of minutes,” said Ruff. “We’re hoping he can step in and be that same guy here. It’s going to be his first game, but we’re going to give him this opportunity and see what he can do for us.”

Kevin Connauton will be the healthy scratch on defense for the sixth time in the last seven games.

“I’ve talked to Kevin. It is frustrating [for him],” said Ruff. “I think that Kevin has come a ways this year and he still has a ways to go. His strength is more on the offensive side of it, where Nemeth is more on the defensive side and we’re turning a little more in that direction. I asked Kevin to not get frustrated, to keep on working.”

Jaroslav Halak will start in goal for Washington. Forward Dustin Penner skated this morning, but left the ice early due to illness. The Capitals have called up Flower Mound native Chris Brown from the AHL in case Penner can’t go tonight.

Tuesday’s game

Who: Dallas Stars at Washington Capitals
Where: Verizon Center
When: 6:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff
Vernon FiddlerColton Sceviour
Ray WhitneyDustin JeffreyAlex Chiasson

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Jordie BennBrenden Dillon
Patrik NemethSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen
Tim Thomas

Capitals projected lineup

Mikhail Grabovski - Jay Beagle - Alexander Ovechkin
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward
Dustin Penner - Evgeny Kuznetsov -Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Mike Green
Jack Hillen – Julien Brouillette

Jaroslav Halak
Braden Holtby

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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