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Lehtonen in goal tonight vs. Blackhawks

Spezza still out, Stars expected to go with same lineup as last game

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

It doesn't look like the Dallas Stars will make any lineup changes when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at United Center. They are expected to go with the same lineup they used in Monday's 1-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center.

Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars this morning, so he is expected to get the start in net. Lehtonen is coming off a sharp 30-save shutout in Monday's victory over the Sharks.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he is also expected to go with the same set of defensemen as last game, which means that Stephen Johns likely will sit out tonight's game. It will be the second straight scratch for Johns, the former Blackhawks prospect.

"The original idea was to get [Johns] back in, but with the shutout, we may not change the defense," Ruff said. "You have to reward the guys that pitched a shutout.

Video: Ruff on effort of Sharp, matchup with Hawks

The Stars should roll with the same 12 forwards as well with Jason Spezza still out due to a back issue.

Tonight's game will be the fifth and final meeting between the Stars and Blackhawks this season. The Stars are 0-3-1 in the season series so far.

"We had the game in Chicago we could have won in overtime, and we had the game in Dallas we were leading and couldn't put it away. And then we gave [Patrick] Kane a breakaway that got them back in the game, and the game slipped away on us," Ruff said. "So, it's taking advantage of our offensive opportunities and making sure their better players don't get the great opportunities to score."

Blackhawks Watch

Corey Crawford will get the start in goal tonight for the Blackhawks, who are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to Vancouver that snapped their winning streak at five games. Crawford was pulled early in the third period in the Vancouver game after allowing four goals on ten shots. The Blackhawks (47-20-6) have a six-point lead over Minnesota in the race for first place in the Central Division. Defenseman Johnny Oduya will face the Stars for the first time since the Feb. 28 trade that sent him from Dallas to Chicago.

Tonight's Game

Who: Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks
Where: United Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Ales Hemsky
Remi Elie - Tyler Seguin - Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Jiri Hudler

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Patrik Nemeth - Jamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Stephen Johns
Injured: Jason Spezza (back), Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee)

Blackhawks Projected Lineup

John Hayden - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin - Ryan Hartman - Patrick Kane
Nick Schmaltz - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa
Dennis Rasmussen - Tanner Kero - Jordin Tootoo

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya - Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell - Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford
Scott Darling

Scratched: Andrew Desjardins, Tomas Jurco, Michal Kempny, Michal Rozsival
Injured: Artem Anisimov (lower 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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