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Hanzal returns, Oleksiak to play forward as Stars face Jets

Dallas aims for its sixth straight home win against Central Division rival

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Stars captain Jamie Benn was looking through some game notes outside the Dallas locker room Monday morning when Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, whom Benn had fought in last Thursday's Stars-Jets game in Winnipeg, walked by and said hello.

"Couple of minuses there," Byfuglien said with a smile

Benn looked over his shoulder and replied, "Get ready for Round 2."

The Stars and Jets will meet for the second time in five days when they square off at American Airlines Center tonight. The Stars (8-6-0) are on a five-game home winning streak, and the Jets have points in seven straight games (4-0-3) including a 5-2 win over Dallas last week.

The Stars will have a little bit different looking lineup this time around. Center Martin Hanzal will be back in tonight after missing three games with a lower-body injury.

"I tested it yesterday and felt pretty good," Hanzal said. "Even this morning, I am 100 percent."

Center Radek Faksa (lower body) and right wing Tyler Pitlick (upper body) will not play after being injured in Saturday's 5-1 win over Buffalo. Both are listed as day-to-day.

Video: Pregame: DAL vs WPG

The Stars have 11 healthy forwards for tonight, so to round out the group and give the team four full lines, defenseman Jamie Oleksiak will play left wing tonight on a line with Hanzal and Gemel Smith.

"He's just got to keep the puck in front of him," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's got really good skill. He's got a great shot and good foot speed for a big man. We talked a month ago about using him there. He's such an effective player we've got to find a way to get him in the lineup."

Oleksiak, who played some forward in juniors and practiced at forward last season, said there will be nothing fancy about his approach.

"I am not going to over complicate it," Oleksiak said. "I just have to keep it simple. I have two good linemates here, and we just have to play a smart, simple game."

That line will have some size with the 6-foot-7 Oleksiak and 6-6 Hanzal.

"We're going to be a tough line to play against," Hanzal said. '[Jamie] is a big guy and so am I. We have to make sure we play in their zone, get the puck deep and work them down low."

The other three forward line combinations are the same as last game, and the defense pairs remain the same as well.

Ben Bishop will get the start in goal.


Jets Watch

Connor Hellebuyck will get the start in goal tonight for the Jets. He is 7-0-2 with a 2.24 goals against average and .932 save percentage. Forward Adam Lowry will return to the lineup tonight after missing nine games with an upper-body injury.


Tonight's Game

Who: Winnipeg Jets at Dallas Stars 
Where: American Airlines Center 
When: 7:30 p.m. 
TV: FOX Sports Southwest 
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM


Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov 
Jason Dickinson - Mattias Janmark - Devin Shore 
Antoine Roussel - Jason Spezza - Remi Elie 
Jamie Oleksiak - Martin Hanzal - Gemel Smith

Marc Methot - John Klingberg 
Esa Lindell - Stephen Johns 
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn

Ben Bishop 
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: None 
Injured: Radek Faksa (lower body), Tyler Pitlick (upper body), Brett Ritchie (upper body)

Jets Projected Lineup

Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler  
Nikolaj Ehlers - Bryan Little - Patrik Laine 
Andrew Copp - Adam Lowry - Brandon Tanev 
Shawn Matthias - Matt Hendricks - Joel Armia

Josh Morrissey - Jacob Trouba 
Toby Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien 
Dmitry Kulikov - Tyler Myers

Connor Hellebuyck  
Steve Mason

Scratched: Brendan Lemieux, Ben Chiarot, Marko Dano  
Injured: Mathieu Perreault (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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