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Morning skate: Niemi in goal, no lineup changes vs. Avalanche

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Antti Niemi was the first goaltender off the ice in Denver Saturday morning, so it looks like he will get the start Saturday night when the Stars take on the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

Niemi is coming off a 37-save shutout in his Stars debut, a 3-0 win over Pittsburgh in the season opener on Thursday night. He also chipped in two assists.

The Stars are not expected to make any other lineup changes for tonight’s game, going with the same 12 forwards and six defenseman used in Thursday’s win over the Penguins. The Stars likely will roll out the same forward lines, and defense pairs as the last game but there could be some tweaks.

“There’s been some thought to some subtle changes within the game, but it is hard to change. But not afraid to either,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.

Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak and Colton Sceviour all will sit out as healthy scratches a second straight game.

Saturday’s game is the Stars’ first versus the Central Division, against which they went 8-14-7 last season including 0-3-2 against Colorado. The Stars are 1-6-3 against the Avalanche over the past two seasons, including 0-5-0 in Denver where they have been outscored 22-10 in the five losses.

“The [Avalanche] can create offense. They have good speed. They have had some timely scoring against us,” Ruff said. “I think the one area we have been able to take advantage of is in the offensive zone, we’ve garnered a lot of the play, but their transition game has hurt us. “

Avalanche watch

Colorado will roll out the same lineup as Thursday when they blew a 4-1 third-period lead and lost 5-4 to Minnesota in Denver. Semyon Varlamov, who gave up four goals in a 5:07 span during the third-period collapse, will get the start in goal.

“The key for me, I want to see how we're going to bounce back,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said.

Saturday’s game

Who: Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver

When: 8:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennCody EakinTyler Seguin

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaPatrick Sharp

Antoine RousselMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Colton Sceviour

Injured: None

Avalanche projected lineup

Blake Comeau - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Alex Tanguay

Mikko Rantanen - Carl Soderberg - Borna Rendulic

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Jack Skille

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Nikita Zadorov - Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: Brandon Gormley, Mikhail Grigorenko, Brad Stuart

Injured: Jesse Winchester (concussion-like symptoms)

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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