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Sticking with what works

Lindy Ruff expected to roll with same lineup on second night of back-to-back

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

If it worked last time, why change? That looks like the approach Stars coach Lindy Ruff will be taking tonight when the Dallas Stars play the second end of a back-to-back in Edmonton.

Ruff is not expected to make any lineup changes - including in goal - as the Stars take on the Oilers at Rogers Place. Kari Lehtonen is expected to be in goal and Ruff is expected to go with the same 18 skaters he used in Thursday night's 4-2 win in Calgary.

Ruff does have the option of going with a rested goaltender in Antti Niemi and possibly bringing in a rested defenseman or two as the Stars play on consecutive nights and for the fifth time in nights.

"We're in early [after last night's game]. We had a day off before," Ruff said. "I know it's back to back, but feel if you look at the minutes we played and we divvied up on defense, nobody was overplayed. I don't feel there should be any fatigue in our game."

If Lehtonen does get the start, it will be his third straight. He was sharp in Thursday's win, stopping 29 of 31 shots. It would be the first time he has started on consecutive nights since March 2015 when he won at Carolina and at Washington, stopping 33 of 38 shots.

Jason Spezza (lower body) and Patrick Sharp (concussion) both skated today in Edmonton, but neither is ready to return for tonight's game. Spezza will miss his fourth straight game and Sharp his eleventh.

"Getting closer," Ruff said. "Sharp had a tougher skate yesterday and felt OK. When you haven't practiced for that long or gone through that, you're not going to feel great. We're going to try to push him even harder today. Spezza, we haven't been able to push hard. He's been really about at 50 percent. He's been going out there just to get a sweat and shoot some pucks, and sort of half speed. Until he can ramp it up, he won't be able to play."

The Stars are without six forwards right now and have lost 69 man-games to injury or illness coming into tonight's game. Ruff said the Stars can't dwell on the injuries.

"You've got to get the job done," he said. "You've got to look at the personnel you have, and you have to make it work. You still have games to win, and the personnel you have has to play well."

Oilers Watch

Cam Talbot is expected to start in goal for the Oilers, who are coming off a five-game road trip that saw them get five of ten points (2-2-1).

"I thought we had a good road trip, but it could have been a lot better than it was," forward Patrick Maroon told media this morning. "We made some mental errors that cost us some games. We're home now, and now we have to find a way to win at home and make teams that come in here not want to play us. We have to play our game and jump on them quick tonight."

The Oilers are off to a good start this season, leading the Pacific Division with a 9-4-1 record. Connor McDavid is tied for second in the league in scoring with 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists).

Tonight's Game

Who: Dallas Stars at Edmonton Oilers
Where: Rogers Place
When: 8:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Lauri Korpikoski
Antoine Roussel - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Curtis McKenzie - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie
Gemel Smith - Justin Dowling - Adam Cracknell

Dan Hamhuis - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak - Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Esa Lindell, Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Patrick Sharp (concussion), Jason Spezza (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)

Oilers Projected Lineup

Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jesse Puljujarvi
Milan Lucic - Leon Draisaitl - Tyler Pitlick
Anton Lander - Mark Letestu - Anton Slepyshev

Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera - Matthew Benning
Darnell Nurse - Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot
Jonas Gustavsson

Scratched: Dillon Simpson, Taylor Beck

Injured: Drake Caggiula (hip), Matt Hendricks (lower body), Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Brandon Davidson (upper body), Mark Fayne (lower body), Kris Russell (lower body), Zack Kassian (lower body).

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