Defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who hasn’t played with the Dallas Stars since Oct. 18, was on the ice this morning in Frisco and could play tonight when the Stars take on the New York Islanders at American Airlines Center.
The Stars on Monday recalled Nemeth from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, where he had been getting in some games to prepare for his return to the NHL.
“There’s a good chance [Nemeth will play]. We’re going to make that game time,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “We got a good report on him, a little bit up and down but we know what Patrik can bring. We’re going to get him in there and get him going.”
Nemeth suffered an arm laceration that required surgery in that Oct. 18 game against Philadelphia. The initial thought was that Nemeth was done for the regular season. But he battled his way back and began playing games for the Texas Stars in the AHL almost two weeks ago.
“Obviously it feels really good,” Nemeth said. “I didn’t even think I was going to be able to play here. To be able to play five games down there was good, to start playing hockey again. It’s just great to be up here.”
Nemeth said the first game with Texas was a challenge but things got better as he played more. And now he is on the verge of playing his first NHL game in more than four months. It’s been a long, hard road back.
“It’s been hard, to get an injury like that and to receive the word that the season is over,” Nemeth said. “Then after that, feeling pretty good and every day just try to push it forward a little bit. It’s a lot of hard work, the rehab and not cross the line. It’s kind of a fine line. It’s been tough, but it’s also been good times when you feel things are getting better.”
If Nemeth is in tonight, it’s not clear who will sit. Trevor Daley and John Klingberg, who did not practice Monday, skated Tuesday morning. Ruff said both were good to go.
Forward lines were the same as in Monday’s practice. That included a top line of Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.
Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so he is expected to get the start in goal.
Horcoff excited to stay with Stars
Monday was a day of waiting for Stars forward Shawn Horcoff. He knew that as a pending unrestricted free agent, the Stars could move him to a contender for future assets. But as the deadline passed Horcoff stayed put.
“Obviously I am happy to have not gone anywhere,” Horcoff said. “When you are in those situations, you try to stay 50-50 so whichever way it goes you are not totally disappointed. With my family liking it here and me liking it here and I believe in the team and the direction we are going, obviously I wanted to stay. This was on my mind for about a week and my family’s mind for a week. Now we can just rest easy and play.”
Resting easy wasn’t easy for a good part of Monday.
“Driving home my phone was on loud ringer and then the TV was on,” Horcoff said. “I was just sitting there. Sitting there waiting with my wife. We were just waiting. The worst time is when it hits 3 o’clock Eastern because you think it’s over but you know there are always a couple things that sneak in.”
He got the all clear when his agent called 15 minutes after the deadline to tell him he was safe.
Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal tonight for the Islanders. Halak is 33-13-0 with a 2.46 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Forward Tyler Kennedy, acquired from San Jose on Monday, will make his Islanders debut tonight.
“He’s an energy guy, plays the right way, does a lot of good things,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of Kennedy.
Michal Neuvirth, acquired from Buffalo on Monday, will back up Halak tonight.
Who: New York Islanders 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 Benn – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzie – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Colton Sceviour – Shawn Horcoff – Brett Ritchie
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jyrki Jokipakka – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Injured: Tyler Seguin (knee), Travis Moen (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)
Islanders projected lineup
Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey
Michael Grabner – Frans Nielsen – Tyler Kennedy
Nikolay Kulemin – Ryan Strome – Colin McDonald
Matt Martin – Brock Nelson – Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy – Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey – Lubomir Visnovsky
Calvin de Haan – Travis Hamonic
Scratched: Matt Donovan, Kael Mouillierat, Brian Strait
Injured: Eric Boulton (lower body), Casey Cizikas (lower body), Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Kyle Okposo (eye)
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.