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Morning skate: Lehtonen expected in goal tonight vs. Canucks

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

It looks as if Kari Lehtonen will get the start tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Lehtonen, who missed the past three games with an upper-body injury, will be making his first appearance since Nov. 24 and his first start since Nov. 19.

Defenseman Jason Demers, who suffered an upper-body injury in Saturday’s shootout loss at Calgary, did not skate this morning and is out for tonight’s game. Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth both are expected to come into the lineup tonight while Jyrki Jokipakka will likely sit out as a healthy scratch.

“[Oleksiak and Nemeth] both have size,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I want them to be heavy around the front of the net. We weren’t a tough enough team to play against the last game. We’ve got to make sure in tight their guys don’t get the second opportunities tonight.”

No changes are expected among the forwards. Travis Moen will sit out as a healthy scratch.

The Stars come into tonight’s game with a nine-game winning streak against the Canucks, including four straight in Vancouver. The Stars have won both meetings this season. But the Stars have had some issues recently, and they want to clean those up tonight.

“Our play away from the puck has been down a little bit and they [the Canucks] been struggling to score goals,” Ruff said. “We got to make sure that we don’t give up some of the opportunities we’ve been giving up in recent games.”

Ryan Miller will get the start in goal tonight for the Canucks, who are 0-1-2 in their past three games. The Canucks have dropped nine straight to the Stars and haven’t won a game against Dallas since February 2013. Both losses this season came in games that went beyond regulation.

“I think we’ve played a couple of our best games against them this year, and we just couldn’t close it out,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. “It wasn’t as though we didn’t have our chances. For us, that’s a good sign. It’s a better sign than it was last year.”

Who: Dallas Stars at Vancouver Canucks

Where: Rogers Arena

When: 9 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselCody EakinValeri Nichushkin

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerAles Hemsky

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJordie Benn

Patrik NemethJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Jason Demers (upper body)

Scratched: Travis Moen, Jyrki Jokipakka

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen

Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Radim Vrbata

Sven Baertschi - Adam Cracknell - Alexandre Burrows

Brandon Prust - Jared McCann - Derek Dorsett

Alex Edler - Alex Biega

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber

Luca Sbisa - Matt Bartkowski

Ryan Miller

Jacob Markstrom

Injured: Jake Virtanen (hip), Chris Higgins (upper body), Chris Tanev (hand), Ben Hutton (lower body), Brandon Sutter (sports hernia)

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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