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Stars Look to Get on Track Against Ducks

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The 2014-15 season is nine games old, and the focus for the Dallas Stars is looking forward and getting better. But tonight’s game will bring up memories of the past. The Anaheim Ducks are in town and the last time they were at American Airlines Center they eliminated the Stars from the playoffs, rallying from two goals down late in the third period of Game 6 and then winning in overtime.

“Well, I can tell you what kind of feeling we left with and that was pretty bitter with the way it ended,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Obviously, this is what rivalries are build off of, is a playoff series, bad feelings, tough losses. You’ve got everything there. Obviously, this year is different to start with, but at the same time you remember the past.”

“We’ve built a little bit of a rivalry with these guys,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “They are a top notch team and one of the best in the league every year for a reason. They’ve got some great players, they are coached well and play a hard game. It’s going to be a good test for us, and we have to get back on track as well. I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re worried too much about them. We’re worried about our own game and putting in a full 60 minutes.”

The Stars have had a hard time putting together a full 60 minutes at home this season. In three of the four games, they were unable to hold third period leads and then went on to lose in either four-on-four overtime or a shootout.

“We’re in a situation here where we got to get some wins on home ice,” Ruff said. “We’ve given up some overtime losses, got in some penalty trouble in overtime. We need a win. They played last night, and we’d like to get on it early.”

The Stars are expected to go with the same lineup as Tuesday’s game against St. Louis. Jyrki Jokipakka will be the scratch on defense. Kari Lehtonen will get the start in goal.

Frederik Andersen will start in goal for Anaheim. Mark Fistric, who suffered an upper body injury Thursday night in St. Louis, is out. Josh Manson, son of former Stars defenseman Dave Manson, will come into the lineup and make his NHL debut.

Nichushkin to get a couple games in AHL

*Valeri Nichushkin will play tonight, but he’ll be in the lineup for the Texas Stars when they take on Lake Erie in Cleveland. The Stars activated Nichushkin from injured reserve Thursday and assigned him to the AHL on a conditioning loan.

“He needs to play. For me, I just want to see him go and play well, play minutes and go and play well,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He didn’t get a lot of playing time in preseason. He missed a lot of days in camp, and he has an opportunity to get in games where at that level it’s a good league. He needs to get into the physical part. He needs to feel the pain of playing back-to-back and the endurance part of it. I really feel that the conditioning part is the part right now that will probably hurt him the most.”

If all goes well, Nichushkin will play Friday and Saturday with Texas, return to Dallas and be ready for Tuesday’s game against Los Angeles.

*Defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who has been out since the preseason with a fractured ankle, is getting close to getting in the lineup.

“He’ll be available I think as early as next week. It won’t be these two games, but next week is a real good possibility,” Ruff said.

Quotable: Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on how the Stars are different this season

“Well, they got at least one guy (Jason Spezza) that’s different. He makes a big difference out there. Seguin’s another year older. Benn’s his second year with the captaincy. They’ve always skated. We knew they could skate like crazy, and they were as fast as any team in the league last year. So, you add that other element, they’re way more dangerous and deep. They got goals on the fourth line. That’s pretty great depth for your forwards.”

Friday’s game
Who: Anaheim Ducks 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 BennJason SpezzaTyler Seguin
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Patrick EavesVernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Erik ColeShawn HorcoffColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Jordie BennBrenden Dillon
Kevin ConnautonJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

Scratched: D Jyrki Jokipakka

Conditioning assignment: Valeri Nichushkin

Injured: D Sergei Gonchar (ankle), D Patrik Nemeth (arm laceration)

Ducks projected lineup

Matt Beleskey – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Dany Heatley – Ryan Kesler – Devante Smith-Pelly
Andrew Cogliano – Nate Thompson – Jakob Silfverberg
Emerson Etem – Rickard Rakell – Tim Jackman

Cam Fowler – Clayton Stoner
Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Josh Manson – Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen
John Gibson

Conditioning Assignment: Bryan Allen

Scratched: William Karlsson

Injured: Mark Fistric (upper body), Ben Lovejoy (finger), Patrick Maroon (knee), Kyle Palmieri (ankle)

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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