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Morning skate: Stars wary of struggling Ducks

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Anaheim Ducks are in town, and they are struggling. The Ducks are coming off a 1-0 overtime loss in Chicago last night, their fifth shutout loss in eight games this season. Anaheim, which is 1-5-2, has scored just six goals in eight games, an average of 0.75 goals per game.

All that has the Stars wary.

“They are going to be a desperate hockey team,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “I watched last night, and they were taking over the game. Their goalie is playing great. That’s a great team, and they are ready to explode. We’ve got to be ready for a good one.”

“You know what their game is going to look like. They are going to shoot everything,” Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “They are going to find ways to get the puck on net. We need to be ready for that, and we will be.”

Antti Niemi was the first goaltender off the ice at this morning’s skate, indicating he will get the start tonight against the Ducks. It will be Niemi’s fifth start of the season. He is 3-1-0 with a 2.37 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.

Defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, a healthy scratch in the last game, will be back in the lineup and is expected to be on the third pair with Jamie Oleksiak, who will play his second straight game after sitting out the first seven as a scratch. Patrik Nemeth skated late and is expected to be a healthy scratch. Jason Demers will sit out the second and final game of his suspension for elbowing Pittsburgh’s Nick Bonino last week.

The forward lines are expected to be the same as last game for the Stars, who are looking to bounce back from Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Florida at American Airlines Center.

“I think we have to play the game the right way. I think we got caught in some situations gambling too much and that hurt us,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’re just moving forward. We got plenty of chances to turn the tide in the game, but I think if you consistently play the game the right way, you’ll get rewarded.”

Ducks watch

The Ducks did not skate this morning, but they did hold meetings at the American Airlines Center. Although they lost 1-0 in Chicago last night and were shut out for the fifth time in eight games, the Ducks did see positives. They outshot the Blackhawks 39-24 and had several quality scoring chances.

“We had many chances to score whereas in the first seven games you could go through parts of the game and know that you didn’t have anything,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “To me, [Blackhawks goaltender] Corey Crawford had to really be good last night or we should have had three, four or five goals on him.”

It’s not clear who will start in goal for Anaheim, but there’s a good chance it will be Frederick Andersen. He has a 1.71 goals-against average and .940 save percentage, but his record is 0-3-2. The Ducks have scored just one goal in the six games he has played.

Tuesday’s game

Who: Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars

Where: American Airlines Center

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselCody EakinAles Hemsky

Vernon FiddlerRadek FaksaColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJordie Benn

Jyrki JokipakkaJamie Oleksiak

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Jason Demers

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth

Injured: Travis Moen (upper body), Patrick Eaves (lower body), Curtis McKenzie (hip)

Ducks projected lineup

Carl Hagelin - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Jiri Sekac - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Andrew Cogliano - Rickard Rakell - Mike Santorelli

Patrick Maroon - Shawn Horcoff - Chris Wagner

Hampus Lindholm - Kevin Bieksa

Cam Fowler - Korbinian Holzer

Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen

Anton Khudobin

Injured: Simon Despres (upper body), Josh Manson (upper body)

Scratched: Joe Piskula, Tim Jackman, Chris Stewart

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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