Stars Look to Continue Playoff Push vs. Blue Jackets

Wednesday, 04.9.2014 / 1:40 PM CT / 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 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 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 13 5 10 2 15
J. Spezza 13 5 8 0 13
C. Eakin 13 1 7 -4 8
A. Goligoski 13 4 3 -6 7
P. Sharp 13 4 2 -4 6
P. Eaves 9 3 3 3 6
R. Faksa 13 3 2 2 5
M. Janmark 12 2 3 -3 5
C. Sceviour 11 2 3 1 5
J. Klingberg 13 1 3 -5 4
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 6 3 0 .899 2.81
A. Niemi 1 3 2 .865 3.29
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