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Stars Look to Get Back on Track Tonight vs. Penguins

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars will try to make it four wins in five games and six in the past eight when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at American Airlines Center.

The Stars will make a few lineup adjustments heading into tonight’s game. Defenseman John Klingberg, out the past three games with an upper-body injury, is back in tonight. He skated on a pair with Patrik Nemeth during this morning’s skate at the AAC.

At forward, it appears Ryan Garbutt will be back in tonight after sitting out the past three games as a healthy scratch. Garbutt hasn’t scored a goal in his past 31 games and Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he was looking for some production from the Dallas forward as he returns to the lineup.

“I’ve told him that the lack of production has got you out,” Ruff said. “I need you to play well inside his role from the penalty killing to the energy part of it and discipline inside of his game. But at the end, there’s got to be some production. That’s the part the player’s got to hold himself accountable for. If you’re going to be a positive factor, there has to be some production. Your line has to have some production. You have to be in on that production. I can even look at the third assist on a play as production. Was he in on it? Was he a factor on these plays? On the other end, don’t be that person that’s in on tough goals in the game.”

Garbutt skated on the left wing with center Vernon Fiddler and right wing Colton Sceviour at this morning’s skate.

Cody Eakin is expected to center the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on his wings.

Based on this morning’s skate, Patrick Eaves appears to be a healthy scratch at forward tonight.

Kari Lehtonen will get the start in goal tonight for the Stars, who come into the game eight points out of the final playoff spot with 12 games remaining in the season.

Penguins watch

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start in goal tonight for Pittsburgh. Fleury is 31-15-7 and ranks ninth in the league with a 2.23 goals-against average. The Penguins come into tonight’s game on a three-game losing streak, and they’ve scored just one goal during the slide. The Penguins are expecting a high-tempo game tonight from the Stars, especially right off the bat.

“They start fast, and they do play a pretty aggressive style, so if you’re not sharp, especially early you’ll find yourself kind of playing tentatively,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “So, just understanding that and knowing how they play, we like to pride ourselves on playing that game too, so just making sure we know that.”

Thursday’s game

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins 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
Antoine RousselJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Curtis McKenzieShawn HorcoffBrett Ritchie
Ryan GarbuttVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Jyrki JokipakkaAlex Goligoski
Patrik NemethJohn Klingberg
Jordie BennJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen
Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Patrick Eaves

Injured: Trevor Daley (lower body), Travis Moen (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)

Penguins projected lineup

Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – David Perron
Beau Bennett – Brandon Sutter – Blake Comeau
Daniel Winnik – Nick Spaling – Steve Downie
Andrew Ebbett – Maxim Lapierre – Craig Adams

Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Christian Ehrhoff – Ben Lovejoy
Rob Scuderi – Ian Cole

Marc-Andre Fleury
Thomas Greiss

Injured: Pascal Dupuis (blood clots), Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed), Evgeni Malkin (lower body), Olli Maatta (upper body)

Scratched: None

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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