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Stars Look to Continue Playoff Push vs. Blue Jackets

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 2:40 PM / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
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Stars Look to Continue Playoff Push vs. Blue Jackets
The Dallas Stars continue their push for a playoff spot when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at American Airlines Center.

The Dallas Stars continue their push for a playoff spot when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at American Airlines Center.

The Stars come into tonight with a two point lead over Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with both teams having three games left.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good spot. We are just going to take it one game at a time,” said Stars defenseman Jordie Benn. “We are pretty excited for tonight. Obviously we are down 1-0 tonight, but we’ve got 60 minutes to win a hockey game.”

This is the make-up game for the March 10 contest that was postponed due to Rich Peverley’s cardiac event on the bench. Tonight’s contest will be a full 60-minute game with Columbus holding the 1-0 lead it had when the March 10 game was suspended.

The first goal in a game often is key and could be even more important tonight.

“This one is huge. Obviously you don’t want to go down 2-0,” said Benn. “It’s a different scenario, never been in a game where a team is already leading 1-0. We just have to go in there like a normal game, even if they end up do scoring that goal, it’s not a big deal, we’ve got 60 minutes and we have enough firepower up front that we can score a few goals.”

With the league having to find a spot in the schedule to play this game, the Stars are having to play their fourth game in five nights. This will be the fifth in seven nights for Columbus. Both teams are on the second night of back-to-backs.

But finding a little extra energy shouldn’t be hard for both teams. The Stars and Blue Jackets both are zeroing on playoff spots. The Stars can move closer to that spot with a win, Columbus can clinch a spot with two points.

“We should be able to overcome [any fatigue] with the adrenaline rush of where we are at,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We know it’s tough, they played last night too. We just look at it as back-to-back games, we don’t want to be digging any further back than that.”

And they look at it as an opportunity to grab a big two points in the playoff race.

“We want this,” said Benn. “Every game is getting bigger and bigger. With only three left, this one is huge.”

The Stars held an optional skate this morning. The fourth line of Erik Cole, Dustin Jeffrey and Alex Chiasson, which saw limited time in last night’s game, skated. So did defensemen Kevin Connauton and Aaron Rome and goaltender Tim Thomas.

The Stars are likely to go with the same group of forwards and defensemen as last night, but Ruff would not make an announcement as far as whether Kari Lehtonen or Thomas would start in goal.

“I’ll either go with Lehts or Timmy,” Ruff said when asked about the goaltending for tonight.

There is no word on who will start in goal for the Blue Jackets. Forward Nathan Horton, who will be credited with the goal at the beginning of tonight’s game, is out. He did not travel with the Blue Jackets after leaving last night’s game against Phoenix with a lower body injury.

Wednesday’s game

Who: Columbus Blue Jackets 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 SeguinValeri Nichushkin
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour
Erik ColeDustin JeffreyAlex Chiasson

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Jordie BennBrenden Dillon
Patrik NemethSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen/Tim Thomas

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Matt Frattin
Blake Comeau – Artem Anisimov - Mark Letestu
Corey Tropp - Derek MacKenzie – Jack Skille

James Wisniewski - Fedor Tyutin
Jack Johnson – Dalton Prout
Ryan Murray - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky/Curtis McElhinney

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.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 63 41 15 7 191 151 89
2 ANA 64 40 17 7 189 177 87
3 STL 63 40 18 5 197 159 85
4 CHI 63 37 21 5 183 150 79
5 WPG 64 32 20 12 179 172 76
6 VAN 62 36 23 3 180 167 75
7 MIN 62 33 22 7 176 161 73
8 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
9 LAK 62 29 21 12 166 162 70
10 SJS 63 30 25 8 175 181 68
11 COL 63 27 25 11 167 182 65
12 DAL 63 27 26 10 196 210 64
13 ARI 63 20 36 7 138 214 47
14 EDM 63 18 35 10 143 208 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 63 23 37 -3 60
T. Seguin 55 29 30 0 59
J. Spezza 63 15 37 -5 52
E. Cole 57 18 15 4 33
T. Daley 60 16 17 -10 33
J. Klingberg 49 10 23 1 33
C. Eakin 60 14 14 -2 28
A. Hemsky 57 9 17 -9 26
A. Goligoski 63 2 24 1 26
A. Roussel 61 12 11 -11 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 25 13 10 .905 2.97
J. Enroth 13 25 2 .900 3.30
 
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