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Morning skate: Seguin a game-time decision; Stars expect big push from Wild

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Here are the key news items from this morning’s skate as the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild prepared for Game 2 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

*Tyler Seguin will be a game-time decision.

*Kari Lehtonen is expected to get a second straight start in goal for the Stars.

*Minnesota’s Erik Haula will return to the lineup after missing game one with a lower-body injury.

On Seguin, he skated on the fifth line this morning with Travis Moen and Brett Ritchie. Seguin, who has been out since Mar. 17 after suffering a cut to his Achilles tendon, said he feels ready to go.

“I feel good, I feel like I am ready to play, but it is going to be a coach’s decision,” Seguin said. “I am prepared and ready.”

Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Seguin will be a game-time decision and then explained what will factor into if Seguin plays.

“Just how well we played last game and where he’s at,” Ruff said. “We’ll make that decision tonight.”

If Seguin doesn’t play, then it will be the same lineup as last game. The lines at this morning’s skate were the same as Game 1, and the Stars are expected to go with the same group of defensemen as well.

Lehtonen, who made 22 saves in the Stars’ 4-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday, was the first goaltender off the ice this morning for the Stars, so he is expected to get the start again. Lehtonen is 7-1 in his last eight starts – including both regular season and playoffs – with a 1.76 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and two shutouts.

“I think he has a lot of confidence in the way he’s playing and some of the adjustments he’s made,” Ruff said. “Obviously struggled through the year with some of the changes he went through, but I think he’s pretty comfortable with what he’s tried to change inside his game. To finish the way he finished and then to start the playoffs the way he started, all that just helps the confidence.”

The Stars had a strong performance in winning Game 1 of the series, limiting the Wild to very few scoring opportunities. The Stars expect a strong push back from the Wild tonight.

“I am sure we are going to see a much better effort,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I am sure they are going to play a simple game, get pucks deep and work our defense. We’ve got to be ready for it. Whatever they bring at us, we’ve got to counter back.”

“I expect the game to be nothing like Game 1, nothing like Game 1 at all. This is desperation time,” Ruff said. “In the history of going through this and losing the first game, you’re the visiting team, and you have one shot to win a game in the opposition building, you put Game 1 aside, and I just think it’s going to be a totally different game. And I expect to see their best. I expect to see them as physical as they can be and try to be as aggressive as they can be when it comes to creating offense because the talk has been there hasn’t been any offense for six, seven games. I’ve been in there, and I know what I’ve asked the team. You throw Game 1 out, and you can expect a totally different game from my front.”

Wild forward Erik Haula, who missed Thursday’s series opener with a lower-body injury, will return to the lineup tonight.

“I think [Haula will bring] speed, you seen a little bit of that lacking last game,” Wild coach John Torchetti said. “More possession time with the puck, we got to make sure that they have to defend us too. We didn’t do a great job of checking against them like we usually do. Getting him back in the lineup, it hopefully gives us more possession time and frustrates them a little bit offensively with some of their top-end players.”

The Wild are juggling lines in hopes of generating more offense. Among the moves, putting center Mikael Granlund on the top line as a left wing with center Mikko Koivu and David Jones.

“Just think gives us a little more offense since Zach [Parise] is out and [Thomas Vanek] is out, want to put a little bit of power on one line,” Torchetti said. “They did a good job with their matchup on it last game and we’ll have to do a better job with ours going into tonight’s game.”

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who did not practice Friday, skated this morning and will get the start in goal tonight.

Who: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars

Where: American Airlines Center

When: 7:00 p.m.

TV: FOX Sports Southwest/NBCSN/Sportsnet/TVA Sports

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Jamie BennCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselRadek FaksaAles Hemsky

Mattias JanmarkVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaStephen Johns

Kris RussellJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Tyler Seguin (Achilles), Brett Ritchie (lower body)

Scratched: Jordie Benn, Travis Moen, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak

Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu – David Jones

Jason Zucker – Charlie Coyle – Justin Fontaine

Nino Niederreiter – Erik Haula – Jason Pominville

Ryan Carter – Jarret Stoll – Chris Porter

Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella – Jonas Brodin

Nate Prosser – Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Zach Parise (upper body), Thomas Vanek (upper body)

Scratched: Zac Dalpe, Christian Folin, Jordan Schroeder

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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