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Stars Look to End Slide vs. Oilers

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

It looks like Kari Lehtonen will be in goal for the Dallas Stars tonight as they take on the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center.

Based on this morning’s skate, they’ll roll out of the same group of forwards and defensemen.

They Stars will be trying to end a six-game losing streak, the longest for the team since the 1995-96 season.

“We’re sticking together,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “You are going to go through adversity in any year, and we’ve hit it right now. The only way we are going to get out of it is to stick together and push through.”

With the Stars struggling, there were plenty of topics for discussion during head coach Lindy Ruff’s media session.

Ruff said the team’s power play needs to get on track. It ranks 29th in the league at 12.4 percent. In Sunday’s loss to the Islanders, it was 0-2 and didn’t register a shot on goal.

“Our entries, which were good at the start of the year, our execution, was very poor and once we get in the zone, when you struggle you’ve got to go with a shoot-first mentality,” Ruff said. “Even when we got to the zone and walked to the top of the circle and we had a wide open shot, we decided to pass it and my blood pressure went up a little bit.”

Ruff was asked if has considered splitting up Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Benn has one goal in the last five games and Seguin has no points during that stretch.

“Getting close to that and I think that they had six chances that line the other night. [Erik] Cole was in on a couple of beauties and Tyler had two and Benner had two. If the chances were down, you would probably go to that tonight,” Ruff said, “but I thought maybe one area they need to clean up is they had a few turnovers when they hit the opposition line that prevented them from creating some other opportunities. I think we wouldn’t even be talking about it if Coler finishes the breakaway chance that hits the crossbar and a couple other good chances.”

Ruff said rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin has been hurting recently and his energy level has been a little low.

“Val, he was hurting a little bit. Going into last game, didn’t even know if he was going to play,” Ruff said. “Even in the New York game, as a young player he just seemed tired. He was getting knocked down. Trying to keep him fresh, drop his minutes down a little bit, get more in less time but I’d like to see him battle through it. I don’t want to take him out of the lineup. He expressed that he was tired and didn’t feel very strong, but I’d like to see him battle through it a little bit too.”

Rome update

Defenseman Aaron Rome, who miss Sunday’s game with a lower body injury, did not skate Tuesday morning. Stars coach Lindy Ruff indicated Rome would be out a while.

“He’s going to be out a bit,” Ruff said. “He’s got a lower body and he’s got to get through it again.”

Tuesday’s game

Who: Edmonton Oilers at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinErik Cole
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Ray WhitneyVernon FiddlerAlex Chiasson
Shawn HorcoffRich PeverleyValeri Nichushkin

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Brenden DillonJordie Benn
Kevin Connauton
Sergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen
Dan Ellis

Oilers projected lineup

Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Sam Gagner
Nail Yakupov – Mark Arcobello – Jordan Eberle
David Perron – Boyd Gordon – Ales Hemsky
Luke Gazdic – Ryan Smyth – Ryan Jones

Andrew Ference – Justin Schultz
Nick Schultz – Anton Belov
Jeff Petry – Martin Marincin

Ilya Bryzgalov
Devan Dubnyk

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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