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Spezza skates but won't play against Jets

Nemeth will play forward again, Lehtonen in goal as Stars continue road trip in Winnipeg

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

It appears Stars coach Lindy Ruff won't be making lineup changes when the Dallas Stars take on the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre tonight. Ruff appears ready to roll out the same lineup he used in Sunday's 4-3 overtime loss at Chicago.

That means forward Jason Spezza will miss a second straight game due to a lower-body injury. Spezza took part in this morning's skate but still is not ready to return.

"He skated, but I don't think he is close to 100 percent yet," Ruff said of Spezza. "But he is back on the ice, which is a good sign."

Spezza was injured in Saturday's game against Chicago at American Airlines Center. He left the game late in the second period and did not return.

With Spezza not playing, defenseman Patrik Nemeth is expected to play a second straight game at wing on a line with Devin Shore and Lauri Korpikoski. Nemeth was in on a couple of scoring chances in Sunday's game.

"He had a pretty good night," Ruff said of Nemeth. "We used him a little bit on defense killing penalties. He was in on two or three opportunities. I think he felt pretty comfortable there."

Nemeth's scoring chances came while crashing the net.

"That's the only thing I know," Nemeth said.

As for his comfort level at the forward position, which he hasn't played much, Nemeth said that was a work in progress during Sunday's game.

"It is hard," Nemeth said. "You almost panic when you are used to having everybody in front of you [as a defenseman] and all of sudden it's just two guys in front of you, and then you panic because you think it's going to be a breakaway. You feel a little bit nervous."

With Nemeth in at forward, Justin Dowling is expected to be a healthy scratch. Jamie Oleksiak is the expected scratch on defense.

Kari Lehtonen will make a second straight start in goal. Lehtonen stopped 29 of 33 shots in Sunday's game. He is 1-3-2 this season with a 2.86 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.

The Stars (4-5-3) come into tonight's game with a 1-3-2 record in their past six games.

Jets Watch

Defenseman Jacob Trouba, who signed a two-year, $6 million contract on Monday, skated with the team this morning but is not expected to play tonight. He could make his season debut Thursday. Trouba had requested a trade while in contract negotiations but said now that he is under contract, that request is out the window.

"When I signed that piece of paper, everything changed," Trouba told media this morning. "I am now part of this team and whatever I am asked to do while under contract the next two years, I am going to do."

The Jets activated defenseman Tyler Myers off injured reserve, so he is expected to return tonight after missing five games with a lower-body injury. The Jets will be without injured forwards Joel Armia, Bryan Little, Shawn Matthias, Drew Stafford and Mathieu Perreault. Connor Hellebuyck is expected to get the start in goal. The Jets (5-7-1) are coming off a 1-1-1 road trip.

Tonight's Game

Who: Dallas Stars at Winnipeg Jets
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie - Gemel Smith - Adam Cracknell
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Patrik Nemeth

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns
Dan Hamhuis - Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Justin Dowling
Injured: Jason Spezza (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness), Patrick Sharp (concussion), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)

Jets Projected Lineup

Patrik Laine - Mark Scheifele - Nikolaj Ehlers
Kyle Connor - Nic Petan - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Copp - Adam Lowry - Brandon Tanev
Marko Dano - Alexander Burmistrov - Chris Thorburn

Josh Morrissey - Dustin Byfuglien
Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers
Ben Chiarot - Paul Postma

Connor Hellebuyck
Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Jacob Trouba and Julian Melchiori
Injured: Mark Stuart (lower body), Mathieu Perreault (upper body), Joel Armia (lower body), Bryan Little (lower body), Drew Stafford (upper body) and Shawn Matthias (lower body)

This story was not subject to 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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