Kari Lehtonen is expected to get the start in goal tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. It will be the second straight start for Lehtonen and the first time he has made consecutive starts since late December.
Lehtonen is coming off a strong 36-save performance in the Stars’ 4-3 overtime win at Minnesota Tuesday.
“I saw good goaltending,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “It’s the type of goaltending you expect, and I really like the way he played.”
The Stars held an optional skate this morning, so there were no line rushes. They likely will go with the same lines as last game except for Colton Sceviour replacing Radek Faksa on the fourth line. They’ll likely go with the same defense as well, meaning a fourth straight game with Patrik Nemeth and Jordie Benn skating as the third pair.
The Stars enter tonight’s game three points behind the Central Division-leading Blackhawks with three games in hand.
The Stars will look for a better performance than Saturday’s 5-1 loss to Chicago at American Airlines Center. In that game, the Stars gave up a power play goal, two shorthanded goals, and one four-on-four goal.
“I thought our five-on-five play was good but our special teams play allowed them a lot of energy and allowed them to win the game,” Ruff said.
Stars forward Patrik Sharp and defenseman Johnny Oduya will play in their first regular-season game in Chicago since being acquired by Dallas in the offseason. Sharp played ten seasons with Chicago, and Oduya played three-plus seasons with the Blackhawks. Sharp was part of three Stanley Cup championships in Chicago, and Oduya was part of two.
“You have a quick peek [at the banners] overhead but at the same time you know what you need to do tonight,” Oduya said. “It’s always fun being back, a lot of memories. It’s going to be a good night.”
Both Oduya and Sharp played a preseason game in Chicago back in October, so it’s not their first time back in a Dallas uniform.
“Lucky to play a preseason game here, so that took the weird stuff out of it,” said Sharp, who will play in his 800th NHL game tonight. “I am here to play a hockey game and enjoy the day. I know my dad is having a great time. He thinks he runs the United Center. I see him going around shaking everyone’s hand and seeing old friends from the Hawks, so he is having a great time as well.”
Corey Crawford is expected to get the start in goal tonight for Chicago. Crawford has allowed two goals or fewer in 31 of his 46 starts this season. Rookie forward Artemi Panarin did not skate this morning and will miss his second straight game due to illness. Chicago, which is coming off a 2-0 loss to San Jose on Tuesday, is 4-4-0 over its past eight games.
Who: Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks
Where: United Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Valeri Nichushkin – Mattias Janmark – Patrick Sharp
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Patrik Nemeth – Jordie Benn
Injured: Jason Spezza (upper body)
Scratched: Radek Faksa, Jamie Oleksiak, Jyrki Jokipakka
Andrew Shaw - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Richard Panik - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Andrew Desjardins - Phillip Danault - Teuvo Teravainen
Brandon Mashinter - Dennis Rasmussen - Jiri Sekac
Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Erik Gustafsson - Brent Seabrook
Trevor Van Riemsdyk - Michal Rozsival
Injured: Artemi Panarin (illness), Marcus Kruger (wrist)
Scratched: Rob Scuderi
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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.