Thursday update: Stars look to stay alive in playoff race

The Dallas Stars are in a must-win situation tonight as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at American Airlines Center. The Stars, who are four points out of a playoff spot, need a win tonight over Columbus and some help from Nashville to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“It’s do or die,” said Stars forward Antoine Roussel. “We need to do it.”

“There’s still a lot of energy in that room and there’s still a lot of optimism,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “I know the room down the hall has the same thing, so it is going to be one heck of a hockey game tonight.”

The Stars have dropped three straight games (0-2-1) and are trying to bounce back from Tuesday’s loss in San Jose, where they gave up two quick goals late in the third period and saw a 2-1 lead turn into a 3-2 defeat that was a huge blow to their playoff chances.

“It stings but at the end of the day we just have to keep moving forward,” said Gulutzan. “We have today to look at and we can’t look back. We’ve got to get two points tonight and we need some help. That’s the reality, but we’ve got to help ourselves.”

The Stars need help from Nashville, which has to beat Detroit in regulation to keep the Stars alive in the playoff race. That game starts an hour before the Dallas-Columbus tilt. The Stars, of course, then would need to beat Columbus. That would push the race to the final day of the season for the Stars.

“We just need to focus on the game tonight,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “That’s the one that matters for us. We know we have to win this game and we don’t control what’s going on outside this rink.”

Injury/lineup notes

Defenseman Alex Goligoski did not skate this morning due to a fractured bone in his foot. Goligoski has been playing through the injury the past few games and is expected to be in the lineup tonight.

“He’ll be OK tonight,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “He has the same thing Ray Whitney had earlier in the season. He has a little bit of a spider fracture in his foot that he’s been playing with the last three or four games. It’s just a pain management thing for him, but he’ll play tonight.”

Right wing Alex Chiasson, who has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury, will not play tonight.

“He’s still a few days away from being cleared to play,” said Gulutzan. “But he’s skating, he can shoot and he’s getting better every day.”

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal tonight.

Matt Fraser and Jordie Benn are the expected scratches.

Stars projected lineup

Whitney-Benn-Eriksson
Nystrom-Fiddler-Cole
Smith-Eakin-Garbutt
Roussel-Wandell-MacDermid

Daley-Robidas
Dillon-Goligoski
Rome-Larsen

Lehtonen

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