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Saturday Notes: Moving forward to Game 6

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Friday night’s 5-4 overtime loss to Minnesota was a tough one, but the Stars are putting it behind them and moving on to Sunday afternoon’s Game 6 at Xcel Energy Center.

“You’ve got to move forward,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.

The Stars missed out on a chance to close out the series Friday at American Airlines Center as Wild captain Mikko Koivu scored with 3:09 left in regulation to tie the game and then scored 4:55 into overtime to send the series back north.

“It’s a deflating feeling certainly,” said Stars forward Patrick Sharp. “Our fans were excited, we were excited, had an opportunity to move on in the playoffs and let it slip away, but that’s over with now. We still have a great opportunity in front of us; that’s the way we’re looking at it, and we’re excited for Game 6.”

The Stars can take some positives out of Friday’s game. They outshot the Wild 41-24 and had a 93-47 advantage in attempted shots as they rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to take a 4-3 lead. But mistakes were costly.

“The message is clean up some of the mistakes and play with the energy we played with,” Ruff said. “When you chase a game for 50 minutes, and we got back in it, I know it hurts to lose it. We didn’t give up a lot, really only gave up that last, the one coverage play and we end up letting them tie the game. We got to clean up those early mistakes and go from there.”

The Stars still lead the series 3-2 and have another chance to close out the series Sunday. This time, their chance will come on the road where they won Game 4.

“We know that we can go there and win a hockey game,” Ruff said. “We’re confident with the way we’ve played on the road.“

And once again, the Stars expect a strong effort from the Wild, who still sit on the brink of playoff elimination and will have plenty of desperation in their game.

“Their backs are against the wall, they’re going to play even harder,” said Sharp. “We’re going to do the same tomorrow.”

With the Stars coming off a loss in Game 5 Friday, it raises the question of what the Stars will do in net for Game 6. Stars coach Lindy Ruff was asked about his goaltending after Friday’s game.

“We’ll just evaluate and move on. We’ll just keep doing what we’ve done all year,” Ruff said. “We’re up 3-2, and both [Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi] won us games in the playoffs.”

Based on what the Stars have done often this season, there could be a change in goal for the next game with Lehtonen coming back in after backing up Niemi the past two games. Lehtonen, who started the first three games of the series, said if he gets the call, he is ready to go.

“You always have to be ready, but especially at this time of the year, so that’s it,” Lehtonen said after Saturday’s practice.

The Stars practiced Saturday afternoon in Frisco before departing for Minnesota. Ales Hemsky did not skate. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said it was a maintenance day. Travis Moen took Hemsky’s spot on the third line with center Radek Faksa and Antoine Roussel during practice.

As expected, Ruff said that Tyler Seguin (lower body) would not play in Game 6. Seguin, who is day to day with an issue related to his previous Achilles tendon injury, would not travel with the team, according to Ruff.

Here’s how the Stars lined up in Saturday’s practice:

Jamie Benn
Cody EakinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselRadek FaksaTravis Moen

Valeri NichushkinVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaStephen Johns

Kris RussellJason Demers

Jamie Oleksiak/Patrik NemethJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

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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