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Seguin and Eakin expected to play, Niemi in goal vs. Predators

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

It would appear that Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin, who both left Saturday’s game due to injury in the third period, will be able to play tonight against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Seguin suffered a cut on his wrist when he was clipped by the skate of Washington center Nicklas Backstrom. Eakin suffered an undisclosed injury, leaving the game after a hit by Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

“With Eakin, it is whether or not the muscle can loosen up or not for him to play,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “Watching Tyler shoot, he should be fine.”

As for Seguin, he doesn’t expect any issues with the wrist.

“Should be fine,” he said.

With Seguin and Eakin both expected in the lineup, the Stars would roll out the same forward lines used in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Washington. Curtis McKenzie, called up from the AHL on Sunday, would be the healthy scratch among the forwards.

The Stars are expected to go with the same set of defensemen as last game, meaning that Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka will be scratches on the blue line.

Antti Niemi was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars this morning, so he should be tonight’s starter. This would be his first start since getting pulled after one period in the 5-1 loss to Chicago on Feb. 6. Niemi is 9-6-3 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in his career against the Predators.

The Stars come into tonight’s game on a three-game winning streak and with six wins in their past seven games (6-1-0), and they have won four straight on the road. They’ll face a Nashville team that is coming off a solid 5-0 win in Florida Saturday night and can be a tough opponent in their building.

“They play a real tight game, and it’s been hard to generate of lot of real good scoring opportunities,” Ruff said. “The obvious thing is they get their matchup right off the bat, and it makes it a little bit tougher on us.”

Stars center Jason Spezza, who has missed the past four games with an upper-body injury, skated in a red no-contact jersey this morning. He could be ready to return later this week, according to Stars coach Lindy Ruff.

“My forecast would be the end of the week, Thursday or Saturday. I am guessing probably Saturday,” Ruff said.

Carter Hutton is expected to get the start in goal tonight for the Predators. He is coming off a 22-save shutout in Nashville’s 5-0 win at Florida Saturday. Hutton is 6-2-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average and .924 save percentage this season. Nashville (26-21-9) comes into tonight’s game holding the second wild-card spot in the West and has a five-point lead over both ninth-place Arizona and tenth-place Minnesota.

Who: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators

Where: Bridgestone Arena

When: 7:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Valeri NichushkinMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky

Vernon FiddlerRadek FaksaColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Patrik NemethJordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Travis Moen (lower body), Jason Spezza (upper body)

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Jyrki Jokipakka, Curtis McKenzie

Calle Jarnkrok – Ryan Johansen – James Neal

Filip Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – Craig Smith

Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Viktor Arvidsson

Miikka Salomaki – Paul Gaustad – Austin Watson

Roman Josi – Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis

Barret Jackman – Anthony Bitetto

Carter Hutton

Pekka Rinne

Eric Nystrom (foot), Gabriel Bourque (upper body)

Scratched: Petter Granberg, Cody Bass

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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