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Morning Skate: Lehtonen expected in goal, Russell still out vs. Coyotes

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Kari Lehtonen is expected to get the start in goal tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.

This would be the fifth straight start for Lehtonen and his ninth start in the past ten games. Lehtonen is 6-1-1 in his past eight starts with a 2.44 goals-against average.

The Stars are expected to roll with the same forwards and defensemen used in Tuesday’s 6-2 win at Chicago, and likely will go with the same line combinations and defense pairs as well.

Defenseman Kris Russell will miss a second straight game with a lower-body injury.

“He’s doing well, just a coach’s decision to hold him out again,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.

Mattias Janmark, who has been out with an upper-body injury, appears ready to go but he is not expected to return tonight.

“He’s close. If pushed into play, he could play,” Ruff said. “But right now it is tough to change the lineup the way it’s been going.”

Jamie Oleksiak and Travis Moen are expected to be the other scratches along with Janmark.

Tonight’s game will be the second meeting of the season between the Stars and Coyotes. The first one didn’t go well for the Stars, who lost 6-3 in Glendale on Feb. 18. Arizona’s Max Domi (two goals, one assist) and Anthony Duclair (three assists) combined for six points.

“I think a couple of times it was just awareness. Some of that was our mental focus wasn’t that good last game in here,” Ruff said. “They do have a couple of guys that have really good speed. I think we are going to be in for a tough one. They played against a real fast team (Edmonton Tuesday night) and they ended up winning that game. For us, we won a big game (Tuesday in Chicago) and it’s putting that one behind us and being ready for some guys that can really move.”

The Coyotes (32-34-7) did not skate this morning. They are coming off a 4-2 win over Edmonton Tuesday. The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Coyotes and gave them a 4-2-0 record over their past six games.

Louis Domingue is expected to start in goal Thursday. Domingue is 14-16-5 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. He stopped 36 shots in Arizona’s 6-3 win over the Stars on Feb. 18.

Arizona coach Dave Tippett was asked Wednesday during his media availability if he was surprised that the Stars were sitting on top of the Central Division.

“No. No,” Tippett told media. “Look at their players. They’ve got good players. They added a good goaltender. They are a good team. Good teams find ways to win. They’ve got a good coach, too.”

Who: Dallas Stars at Arizona Coyotes

Where: Gila River Arena

When: 9:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Jamie BennCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselRadek FaksaAles Hemsky

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerBrett Ritchie

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaStephen Johns

Patrik NemethJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Kris Russell (lower body), Tyler Seguin (Achilles), Jason Demers (shoulder)

Scratched: Mattias Janmark, Jamie Oleksiak, Travis Moen

Max Domi – Martin Hanzal – Jiri Sekac

Alex Tanguay – Antoine Vermette – Anthony Duclair

Tobias Rieder – Brad Richardson – Shane Doan

Jordan Martinook – Boyd Gordon – Sergei Plotnikov

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Connor Murphy

Klas Dahlbeck – Zbynek Michalek

Kevin Connauton – Michael Stone

Louis Domingue

Mike Smith

Anders Lindback (Achilles), Joe Vitale (fracture orbital bone)

Scratched: Kyle Chipchura, Niklas Grossmann, Viktor Tikhonov

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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