Thursday update: Lehtonen returns, Cole on a line with Smith and Eakin

Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen returns for tonight’s game against Edmonton after missing the last five games with a groin injury.

“He brings a lot of stability, comfort,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “He stole a lot of points for us early. Just knowing he is back there, there is a lot of confidence in him. He’s on the top of his game right now, so you know what you are going to get from him every night.”

Lehtonen is 7-2-1 this season with a 2.12 goals against average and. 934 save percentage. The Stars were 2-2-1 in the five games he missed, and allowed 4.5 goals per game.

Erik Cole, acquired from Montreal for Michael Ryder and a draft pick on Tuesday, will make his Dallas Stars debut tonight. Cole, who is wearing No. 72, will play right wing on a line with Reilly Smith at left wing and Cody Eakin at center.

“From what I’ve seen of them, they’re in the category of a couple young guys that are playing real good hockey,” Cole said. “They’re not just guys that are out there to keep the puck out of their own net. They can make plays and have a good skill set to go along with the speed. And they can play at a good pace, so it should be good.”

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said he liked how the line of Antoine Roussel, Derek Roy and Loui Eriksson played in Tuesday’s game at Columbus, and wanted to give it another look.

“We’re going to take a look at this (Smith-Eakin-Cole) line here, put (Cole) in the spot that was vacated and move forward,” Gulutzan said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Matt Fraser, who has played the last two games, appears to be the odd man out as far as the forwards.

The defense pairings remain the same as the last game.

D Philip Larsen (shoulder), D Aaron Rome (foot) and LW Ray Whitney (foot) remain out.

Stars projected lineup

Morrow-Benn-Jagr
Roussel-Roy-Eriksson
Smith-Eakin-Cole
Nystrom-Fiddler-Garbutt

Dillon-Robidas
Benn-Daley
Goligoski-Oleksiak

Lehtonen

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