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Stars look for more road success in Washington

Cracknell expected to return, Lehtonen in goal as Stars look for sixth straight win in Washington

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars wrap up a two-game road trip tonight against the Washington Capitals, who have the best record in the league and are on a roll at home with 15 straight wins at Verizon Center.

But the Stars have fared well against the Capitals over the years, posting a 9-0-1 record in the past ten meetings including five straight wins in Washington. The Capitals' last win against the Stars in Washington came in November 2006.

The Stars are 6-0-1 against Washington under coach Lindy Ruff.

"It's hard to point to one particular thing," Ruff said of his team's recent success against the Capitals. "We've played tight games with them."

Video: Ruff previews matchup with the Caps

The Capitals won the first meeting this season, overcoming a 3-1 deficit to beat the Stars 4-3 in overtime at American Airlines Center on Jan. 21. That snapped Washington's nine-game losing streak against the Stars and gave the Capitals their first win in Dallas since October 2008.

Dallas (26-29-10) has won four of its past six games (4-2-0) and enters tonight's game seven points out of a playoff spot with 17 games remaining.

"We're in a position where we need to win every game almost. You've got to approach it that way," Ruff said. "Tonight's a big a game as it comes. We gave a game away against the Islanders at home, won a hard-fought game in Florida and to stay within reach we have to win tonight."

The Stars are expected to get forward Adam Cracknell back tonight. Cracknell, who suffered a lower-body injury in the Feb. 18 game against Tampa Bay, has missed the past five games.

With Cracknell back in the lineup, Jiri Hudler is expected to sit out the game as a healthy scratch. That means Remi Elie, who was outstanding in his NHL debut Saturday in Florida, should be in the lineup for a second straight game.

Kari Lehtonen is expected to get the start in goal for the Stars. He is coming off a superb 41-save effort in the Stars' 2-1 win at Florida Saturday.

Greg Pateryn is the likely healthy scratch on defense for a second straight game.

Capitals Watch

The Capitals (44-13-7) come into tonight's game riding a franchise-record 15-game winning streak, outscoring the opposition 67-21 during the run. Braden Holtby will get the start in goal tonight. He leads the league in goals-against average (1.89), ranks third in save percentage (.931) and is tied for second in wins (34). But he has never defeated the Stars, posting an 0-3-0 record, 4.42 GAA and .852 SV% in four appearances.

Tonight's Game

Who: Dallas Stars at Washington Capitals
Where: Verizon Center
When: 6:30 p.m.
TV: NBCSN
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin
Remi Elie - Cody Eakin - Ales Hemsky
Curtis McKenzie - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Adam Cracknell - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Patrik Nemeth - Jamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Greg Pateryn
Injured: Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee)

Capitals Projected Lineup

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Jakub Vrana
Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braden Holtby
Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Nate Schmidt, Taylor Chorney, Paul Carey
Injured: Andre Burakovsky (hand)

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