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Looks like Klingberg back in tonight vs. Predators

Defenseman expected to return after sitting as healthy scratch, Lehtonen likely starter in goal

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

It appears defenseman John Klingberg will be back in the lineup tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Stephen Johns and Patrik Nemeth skated late, so the guess is they will be the scratches on defense tonight, indicating that Klingberg will play. Klingberg was a healthy scratch on Monday after he missed a team meeting.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff opted not to talk about his lineup on defense after this morning's skate.

"We have an idea in mind, but right now we are not going to discuss it," Ruff said.

The Stars held an optional skate this morning, so there were no line rushes or defense pairs, so there are no hints as to where Klingberg might play tonight.

Based on Tuesday's practice, the Stars should roll with the same forward lines as last game. Curtis McKenzie, who skated late, is expected to be the healthy scratch at forward.

Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so he is expected to get the start in goal. Lehtonen stopped 27 of 28 shots in the Stars' 2-1 win at Nashville on Oct. 18. Ruff said he is trying to keep both Lehtonen and Antti Niemi in the mix with the Stars playing a lot of games this month.

"Both of them have given us wins, so with the number of games it's more about keeping them both going," Ruff said. "Sometimes it is playing the numbers or who played well in different buildings. We take a look at that."

Video: Stars ready for extra intensity in divisional game

The Stars will look to build on Monday's 3-2 overtime win over the Wild, a game in which they moved the puck well and were solid defensively.

"We looked closer to the team we need to look like," Ruff said.

The Stars (8-7-5) have points in six of their past seven games (4-1-2).

Predators Watch

After a sluggish start to the season, the Predators (8-7-3) are starting to turn things around. They've won five of their past seven games and have points in eight of their past ten (6-2-2). They've been very good at home, posting a 6-1-1 record. The only regulation loss came to Dallas back on Oct. 18. The Predators held an optional skate this morning and there is no word on a starting goaltender. Pekka Rinne has started 12 of the past 13 games. The Predators put forward Cody Bass and defenseman Matt Carle on waivers today.

Tonight's Game

Who: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators
Where: Bridgestone Arena
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Tyler Seguin
Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Adam Cracknell

Dan Hamhuis - Julius Honka
Esa Lindell - Jordie Benn
John Klingberg - Jamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Curtis McKenzie, Stephen Johns
Injured: Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)

Predators Projected Lineup

Viktor Arvidsson - Ryan Johansen - James Neal
Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Pontus Aberg
Colton Sissons - Calle Jarnkrok - Austin Watson

Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm - P.K. Subban
Matt Irwin - Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne
Marek Mazanec

Scratched: Cody Bass, Matt Carle
Injured: Miikka Salomaki (upper body), Anthony Bitetto (upper 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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