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Stars Look to Gain Ground in Playoff Race as They Take on Flames

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Another night and another big game for the Dallas Stars as they try to climb their way back into a playoff spot in the Western Conference. A win over the Calgary Flames tonight and the Stars will be within four points of the second wild-card spot.

It’s still a daunting task. The Stars have little margin for error, and they need some help. They got some help Sunday when Chicago knocked off Winnipeg, opening the door for the Stars to gain some ground. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said that provide some extra jump for the Stars.

“Well, the answer to that obviously is yes because we need that to happen,” Ruff said. “I think for both teams there might be a little extra step, so I think we’re looking at an opportunity to close the gap, and that’s the only thing we can hope for.”

The Stars have just six games remaining, starting with tonight’s game against Calgary. The Flames are battling for a playoff spot as well. They jumped back into a playoff position Sunday with a 5-2 win in Nashville. The Flames are in third place in the Pacific Division but are in the mix for that final wild-card spot as well. They are five points ahead of the Stars.

“We’ve got to win every game. We are going to take it one game, one shift, one period at a time,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “Our backs are against the wall. We’ve got to win every night. There’s no holding back. We’ve just got to go.”

No lineup changes are expected for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice this morning, so it appears he will make his eleventh consecutive start. He is 8-2-0 in his past ten games.

The forward lines and defense pairs are expected to be the same as Saturday’s game in Vancouver. Forwards Travis Moen and Colton Sceviour are the expected scratches. Jordie Benn will miss his second straight game with a back issue.

“He was hurt in Vancouver and couldn’t play. Tried it today and can’t play again,” Ruff said. “We’ll just wait and see. Just day-to-day for him.”

Flames watch

Jonas Hiller will get the start in goal for the Flames. He played Sunday in Calgary’s 5-2 win at Nashville, stopping 27 of 29 shots. This is the second of a five-game road trip for the Flames, who have a one-point lead on Los Angeles for third place in the Pacific Division. The Kings play at Chicago tonight.

“I know it sounds cliché but that’s going to be probably my favorite line until the end of this season, is it’s one game at a time,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “Last night, we gave ourselves a chance to stay in the picture, even to improve our situation. But like right now it’s a minute-to-minute watch. Like every game on our side is so important and at the same time, we appreciate any help that we can get from partners around the league. But on our side, I think that the most important thing is that we have to take care of our own business. There’s six games left this season. We need to win them. Like even if we get help, we don’t win our games we’re going to run out of time, we’re going to run out of space.”

Monday’s game

Who: Calgary Flames 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 BennCody EakinTyler Seguin
Patrick EavesJason Spezza- Ales Hemsky
Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerRyan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzieShawn HorcoffBrett Ritchie

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Patrik NemethTrevor Daley
Jyrki JokipakkaJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen
Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Travis Moen, Colton Sceviour

Injured: Jordie Benn (back)

Conditioning: Valeri Nichushkin

Flame projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Jiri Hudler
Lance Bouma – Mikael Backlund – David Jones
Mason Raymond – Joe Colborne – Josh Jooris
Michael Ferland – Matt Stajan – Drew Shore

Deryk Engelland – TJ Brodie
Kris Russell – Dennis Wideman
Raphael Diaz – David Schlemko

Jonas Hiller
Karri Ramo

Injured: Paul Byron (lower body), Mark Giordano (biceps), Mikael Granlund (illness), Ladislav Smid (upper body).

Scratched: Brandon Bollig, Corey Potter.

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 DallasStars.com 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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