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Niemi in goal as Stars try to get back on track vs. Rangers

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars will try to get back on track tonight when they wrap up a three-game road trip against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Stars have hit a bump in the road, dropping four of their past six games (2-2-2). All four of those losses have come on the road, where they have lost four straight (0-2-2) and six of the past seven (1-3-3).

The Stars come into tonight’s game on their first two-game losing streak of the season.

“It’s been a mental issue with us,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of his team’s recent play. “We’ve taken penalties early in games. We’ve taken penalties on the first shift. The Islanders game (Sunday) we took way too many penalties. When there is a little fatigue in your game, your discipline goes. We’ve talked about cleaning that up.”

Tonight’s game will be the seventh in eleven nights for the Stars, and it will wrap up their three-game road trip to the New York metropolitan area.

“There’s more to dislike [than like about the trip],” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We got a point in New Jersey. In both games, we found ourselves down and almost came back in the last one. We want to find a way to play with the lead tonight. We know they are a desperate team and so are we. We definitely don’t want to lose three in a row here.”

Antti Niemi will get the start in goal tonight for the Stars. There are no expected changes on defense. Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak will sit out as healthy scratches. Oleksiak is sitting out a 12th straight game and Nemeth a tenth.

Ruff said he is still deciding on which forward will not play in tonight’s game.

“We’re going to make that a game-time [decision],” Ruff said. “We’ve got one guy that is a little banged up still.”

There was no supplemental discipline for Stars defenseman Jason Demers, who received a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck in Sunday’s game. Clutterbuck left the game briefly after the hit but returned and scored two goals in the Islanders’ 6-5 win over the Stars. Demers talked about the play Tuesday.

“I am glad there is no additional discipline. It was just one of those things. I just thought I was caught in my momentum. I saw him go down, and I tried to hold my elbows up on the glass. I don’t think I drove with attempting to contact his head. I felt it happened quick; maybe it didn’t. I watched the clip 50 times. I just felt I pressed him up, and I didn’t expect it to [do any damage]. If I contacted his head, it wasn’t my intention. I don’t know what happened in the room. I could have done something, and he still came back.”

Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in goal for the Rangers. Forward Chris Kreider is out with a hand injury. Forward Jayson Megna, who was called up from the AHL yesterday, will be in the lineup tonight. The Rangers come into tonight with five losses in their past seven games (2-5-0).

“We need to focus on our game. We know we are playing an elite team, one of the best teams in the NHL, so you’ve got to bring your best game tonight,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told media this morning. “We have to get the timely saves, timely goals, work your butt off, and that’s what we are going to try to do.”

Who: Dallas Stars at New York Rangers

Where: Madison Square Garden

When: 6:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselCody EakinColton Sceviour

Travis Moen/Radek FaksaVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth

Injured: Ales Hemsky (lower body)

J.T. Miller - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Jayson Megna

Oscar Lindberg - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast

Viktor Stalberg - Dominic Moore - Tanner Glass

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Emerson Etem, Dylan McIlrath

Injured: Chris Kreider (hand)

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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