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Stars look to continue late-season push

Lehtonen in goal as Stars look for sixth win in past eight games tonight vs. Senators

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars will look to make it six wins in eight games when they take on the Ottawa Senators tonight at American Airlines Center.

The Stars, who are coming off a two-game road trip that saw them knock off both Florida and league-leading Washington, are 5-2-0 in their past seven games, one of their better runs of the season.

"We have good battle," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "We have some scoring, really good goaltending and production from a lot of different people."

Offensively the Stars have been fueled by captain Jamie Benn (seven-game points streak), defenseman John Klingberg (six-game points streak) and Tyler Seguin (ten points in past seven games).

"When you get on a run, it's usually your big guys that carry you through," Ruff said. "And your goaltender is usually a part of that. Those players are part of the reason we've been able to go where we are going."

Video: Stars looking to close gap in playoff race

The Stars (27-29-10) come into tonight's seven points out of a playoff spot following St. Louis' 2-1 win at Minnesota last night. The Blues currently hold the second wild-card spot in the West. The Stars play tonight at home and then head out for another road trip, this one four games. So, it is a big game at home for the Stars as they try to hang around the playoff race.

"We know where we are at," Ruff said. "There was the desperation to get the road wins, and now we've got to come home and win before we head back on the road. We can't take anything for granted. It's going to be a tough test. It's an important game for us. … If you keep winning, the points will shrink."

Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 83 of 86 shots in the wins over Florida and Washington, was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars this morning, so it appears he will get the nod in net tonight against the Senators.

The Stars are expected to go with the same group of forwards and defensemen as last game, and there's a good chance it will be the same lines and defense pairings.

Greg Pateryn and Jiri Hudler skated late this morning, so they are the expected scratches tonight.

Senators Watch

The Senators (36-22-6) come into tonight's game riding a three-game winning streak and a 7-3-0 mark in their past ten games. The Senators will be without center Kyle Turris, who will be sidelined tonight with a finger injury. With Turris out, Senators coach Guy Boucher is trying to determine if he will plug in a forward or go with eleven forwards and seven defensemen. Boucher said that there are couple of defensemen dealing with illness, so that could affect his decision. Craig Anderson will get the start in goal. He is 19-8-1 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

Tonight's Game

Who: Ottawa Senators at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

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

Senators Projected Lineup

Alexandre Burrows - Derick Brassard - Mark Stone
Mike Hoffman - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Tom Pyatt
Ryan Dzingel - Zack Smith - Chris DiDomenico
Viktor Stalberg - Chris Kelly - Tommy Wingels

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf - Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki - Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson
Mike Condon

Scratched: Fredrik Claesson, Jyrki Jokipakka
Injured: Kyle Turris (finger), Chris Neil (finger), Bobby Ryan (finger), Clarke MacArthur (concussion)

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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